Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New feudalism?

December 28, 2005


To the editor:

The letter in the Journal-World Dec. 23 by Stanley Rasmussen compliments Wal-Mart about its recycling program. However, he overlooks the problem Wal-Mart has created for all citizens. Those stores require shoppers to drive their cars several miles on each trip.

I am reading a book, "Sprawl World," which describes how big retailers have affected the lives of all U.S. citizens. The book tells us that "we are allowing large corporations such as Wal-Mart to limit our self-determination and become our new feudal lords. The money we spend there deprives small shops and farmers of the revenue they need to survive. We can keep the spirit of freedom alive by shopping at farmers markets and local stores. This will keep local small farmers and shopkeepers economically viable and help them to make a stand against the oligarchy of corporate feudalism that is dominating our country."

I believe citizens of Lawrence should pay close attention to where they do their shopping so that our city will become a more healthy and friendly city.

Lester C. Marsh,



Ember 12 years ago

Ya know, if you have a beef with Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target or any of the other stores along those lines, perhaps you should simply come out and say that you, personally, have an objection about their 'practices'.

Their 'practices', or business style if you'd rather, is simple capitalism at it's finest. The age of the Five and Dime stores is slowly drawing to an end. They have served their purpose, and served it well, but there is no reason to continue their use when they are frequently overpriced in comparison to the larger stores.

It is simple business economics. You want to sell more to more customers than your competitor. Were Wal-Mart to put Target out of business, for example, would anyone raise a protest?

Being a small business owner is definately difficult in this day and age, but there is also such a thing as not beating your head against a brick wall.

Farmer's markets are nice, but they can't serve everyone's purpose. Some do not stock the produce that many look for, since a great deal of it is seasonal. The one here in Lawrence is basically dead during the winter months.

Specialty shops are only good for specific needs.

There is nothing wrong with the business practices of Wal-Mart. There is a lot wrong with people demanding that Wal-Mart change it's business plans to suit their desires, instead of those of the directors and CEO.

Would you enjoy someone telling you how to run your business?

If you said yes, then you have no business running a business of your own.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

I'm with Lester. To assume that Wal-Mart is a bargain across the board may not be smart shopping. Recently I spoke with a Kroger/Dillons employee who shopped Wal-Mart grocery due to logistics. For whatever reason she decided to run a price check on her latest purchases. The discovery... Wal-Mart was higher on the greater majority.

Wal Mart does a huge business with the Chinese government who is not nice to people.

Ragingbear 12 years ago

What we should do man, is like have a huge music festival, and with the power of song we can bring 'em down.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Pilgrim wrote a book about it--"Shopping Made Simple for Those Who Don't Like to Think." But don't worry, there is no text-- just pictures.

sweetpeagj 12 years ago just like to critic everyone don't you? Everyone else is false and you know it all. Wow..wish I was just a know it all, done it all like you. You sure you didn't use to have the screen name ku-law?

bettie 12 years ago

you may have more in your pocket at the end of the day after shopping at wal-mart, but what about in your savings at the end of tax season?

there is something wrong with the business practices at wal-mart. they can afford to keep prices low because of the money they save on employee compensation and healthcare. for example: wal-mart reports that it insures 48% of its workers, compared with an industry average of 62%. a large chunk of the wal-mart employees and their families turn to public assistance (i.e. food stamps, medicaid, free school lunch programs, S-CHIP, housing assistance, and energy assistance).

the cost is passed onto the state and federal governments, and the taxpayer in turn. so while you may be saving a few dollars in the checkout line, we're all paying the price in a big way. looking at the big picture, the estimated total amount of federal assistance for which wal-mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. ["Harper's Index," Harper's Magazine, Vol. 310, No. 1858, 3/2005]

craigers 12 years ago

I try to not shop at WalMart besides late at night when nobody else is there. I do go there to get a couple things that are cheaper than other places, but generally speaking they are at the same price levels as almost every other retailer of that size. Target rules!!!! The atmosphere is so much nicer, cleaner, and less cluttered.

Godot 12 years ago

"there is something wrong with the business practices at wal-mart. they can afford to keep prices low because of the money they save on employee compensation and healthcare. for example: wal-mart reports that it insures 48% of its workers, compared with an industry average of 62%. "

I challenge you to canvass every small business in Lawrence and ask them 1) do you provide healthcare benefits to your employees, and what do you charge them for it, and 2) what do you pay unskilled labor, such as retail sales clerks?

Let us know what you find out.

mermily 12 years ago

the cost of shopping at wal-mart isn't simply what is listed on the price tag and that is the problem with happily chalking their practices up to capitalism. happenings like subsidies for doing business in a town and full-time employees on tax supported welfare need to be taken into account when pricing a store.

if you buy a sweater for $5, you can't truly believe there aren't other costs somewhere else!

Ember 12 years ago

Sweetpea, I have never, and will never, claim to have done everything.

I, however, see no reason to withhold my own perspective when I have one.

It is not my fault that you take offense to the fact that I have done more with the time I have lived than you. Perhaps you should go do more, instead of lambasting me for my own life.

bettie 12 years ago

i should have been more specific. when i said, "industry average," i was referring to large retail firms, that is, those with more than 200 employees. these large firms operate on a different scale than small businesses. (by the way, employees in large businesses are generally more likely to be covered than their counterparts in small businesses, so wal-mart being one of the biggest employers in the nation doesn't exactly get it off the hook.)

it's an interesting point you bring up, though. if the attitudes of the public are at all represented by the posts on this forum (which i suspect they are), most people will shop wherever they can save a dime here or a quarter there. when small businesses have to compete with wal-mart prices, they can pretty much choose between cutting that portion of prices that provides decent wages and health benefits or go ahead and close the doors. (ever notice that ghost-town phenomenon that seems to follow wal-mart wherever it goes?)

*for those of you who, like me, want to know where these numbers came from, they're from the national bureau of labor statistics

Godot 12 years ago

Small businesses have never been able to afford big salaries and health benefits. Those things have always been the purview of large corporations and government.

If you want us to stop shopping at WalMart to further your pro-union agenda, you are going to have to fabricate more plausible arguments and offer more incentives. What's in it for us? The fact is, unions have forced American businesses into a position of being non-competitive. Walmart is successful, in part, because it has been able to keep the unions at bay.

Ember 12 years ago

Excellent point, Godot.

Unions, while serving a useful role in business, have also hijacked quite a few industries and forced a number of items and services to skyrocket in price.

Been a few years since I looked into it, but I know back int he 90's, UAW members starting pay was roughly 25 bucks an hour, back when minimum wage was 4.75, or something right around there. Like I said, my memory is exactly crystal clear on this.

A union strikes, and cities fall into chaos.

Case and point, New York with the transit union strike.

The do keep workers from getting shafted, but frequently, they do the shafting themselves to the employers.

And, as always, the costs are passed on to us.

wonderhorse 12 years ago

And, as always, Walmart will go out of business if there are no consumers (buyers). People work for Walmart because they can, if they didn't, Walmart wouldn't be in business. Face it, Walmart lives because the people of the US support it. Once they stop, Walmart will go out of business.

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