Lower prices or higher wages?

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Lower prices or higher wages?

Post by Librarian » Sun May 15, 2005 2:27 pm

Here's the ethical dilemma.

Do you shop at Walmart? How do you feel about getting a lower prices while your neighbor loses their job?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0516/p13s01-wmgn.html

Please read the above link before replying.
Who profits from rock-bottom pricing?

They pay low wages and force local shops to close. But discount chains help the poor make ends meet. Do they belong in your portfolio?

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Some recent research suggests the low prices and job opportunities offered at a new Wal-Mart store don't alleviate a community's struggles with poverty over the long term. Wal-Mart workers in California, for example, annually seek $86 million worth of public assistance, according to a 2004 study by the Labor Center at the University of California at Berkeley. If other big retailers in the state follow suit, the study projected, California taxpayers would have to foot another $410 million in healthcare services, food stamps, and other public costs.

This "race to the bottom" in labor costs also seems to rub off on a surrounding area, according to research from economists Stephan Goetz and Hema Swaminathan at the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State University. While the national poverty rate dropped 2.4 percent between 1990 and 2000, the rate fell by just 0.2 percent on average in counties that added a Wal-Mart. One theory: Although Wal-Mart creates jobs, the company also eliminates jobs by putting others out of business.

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Post by morgana » Sun May 15, 2005 6:56 pm

I am guilty for occasionally shopping at Walmart, though it's only once in a blue moon when someone else needs to go and decides to take me with them. This article reminds me of that South Park episode about the Wall-To-Wall Mart being built and then controlling people's thoughts to make everyone shop there.

Anyway, retail in general pays like crap. My best paying retail job thus far started me off at $7.50/hr. Of course none of them were full time management positions, but still, gods forbid I should ever have to try and LIVE off of $7.50 an hour, cuz it just wouldn't work. I think that if big corporations are gonna take over the smaller privately owned stores, they need to pay at a rate that it is possible to live off of without having to have a second job. For example, my assistant manager only makes about $8/hr so she needed to get a second job waitressing just to make ends meet. Then, the manager started getting angry because she didn't like having to schedule around the girl's waitressing job (at which she was making far better money in tips anyway). It just seems like common sense to me, if you want an employee to devote the maximum amount of time to your company, then pay them enough so it's worth their while! Anyway, that's just my little rant and if it doesn't make sense, it's cuz I'm sick and my head is completely stuffed up. :roll:
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Post by FyreGarnet » Sun May 15, 2005 9:24 pm

I agree with morgana. I make little, and was totally messed up with the last raise I got. I ended up getting the supervisor position, and wound up getting the yearly raise, but nothing more for the extra title. It will be two years here for me this september, and if it weren't for the fact that I make enough to cover tuition payments, and they work with my school schedule, I'd be looking for something else.

It's not just the money, but also how people are treated. If people are treated well, which includes being payed enough to live off of, good benefits, good working conditions, and such, people are going to be happier, more productive people. But with corporate getting so big anymore, it's hard for the lowest rung to keep on living in a world where some people spend a thousand dollars for a stupid dog collar.

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Post by Rain ForestMoon » Mon May 16, 2005 1:14 am

Greetings:

Seeing that I do not live in the USA I cannot talk about Walmart specifically, but I would like to make a comment or two about that sort of retail organism generally:

When they talk about "creating" jobs this simply is not true. In the immediate area there may be a transfer of retail jobs from other businesses. But places like that tend to have a fairly large "catchment area" of shoppers. Within that catchment area there will in invariably an overall reduction of retail jobs. And there will also be a correspondent increase of traffic.

While it may be true that goods are "cheaper" in Walmart-like shops (and therefore more affordable to persons on low incomes) there is another aspect to this: Some of these more affordable goods are really simply unnecessary crap. And sometimes they are purchased simply "because I can afford them" rather "because I need them.

Having said all that, I am of the opinion that the principles of evolution apply in the corporate world as well as in the natural one.

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Post by Librarian » Mon May 16, 2005 8:27 pm

Morgana:

You made perfect sense.

RFM:

Don't you have Tesco? BTW, W-M has been fighting on the continent with Tesco and others. I heard in Germany they were fined for their business practice of selling below cost for a short time in order to drive competitors under.

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Post by Debbrah » Mon May 16, 2005 9:24 pm

It is a really ugly trap.... Person A can't afford to shop places other than Walmart, because they don't get paid enough. Walmart gets bigger, competitors have to try to lower prices to compete, their employees get wages cut, have to shop at Walmart. Walmart gets bigger, competitors go out of business, walmart cuts wages further because only one offering a job.

Walmart can sell for less in part because it doesn't pay well. But because it doesn't pay well, less is all its employees can afford.... I wonder if the early theorists of capitalism would have seen this coming, or if they assumed people would have been self-protective enough to forcibly object long before it got to this point.
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Post by Stormy » Tue May 17, 2005 8:39 am

Debbrah wrote:I wonder if the early theorists of capitalism would have seen this coming, or if they assumed people would have been self-protective enough to forcibly object long before it got to this point.
Forcibly object at ANY retail establishment these days and you will be fired - they will find a way to do it that is "legal" even if it means setting you up for the fall.

I despise retailers in general, big retailers specifically, for the very reasons already stated - they treat employees like crap and pay nothing because they know that there will be someone else standing in line to take the job.

What does it say about our country when they have proven and released the data that shows that a person making minimum wage cannot pay rent on a one bedroom apartment - That a person making $8 an hour still can't afford to do anything more than simply exist from paycheck to paycheck, having just enough money to pay for some hole in the wall apartment and for transportation to the job that doesn't pay them enough to even buy decent food to eat - and yet the country does absolutely NOTHING to change it? Really, anyone who is in a minimum to just over minimum wage job is nothing more than a slave to the system - they live to work and they work to live.

What is really sad in all this is that my husband has what is considered a "good" job with "good' wages - he is responsible for production, personnel, scheduling, trouble shooting, shipping, etc. but he is NOT paid for it as he should be, he's paid for it just enough to make it more than a "better" retail position. I think it is pathetically sad that Americans have come to look on wages as "I could have less" rather than "I deserve more" and that we so fear (with good reason) not being able to find "more" that we settle for "less".

In the case of my husbands company, they cleverly found a way to deceive ALL the employees the last time they did reviews by saying "This is the rate that you are eligible for, is this acceptable?" and when the person said "yes" and signed the paper work they laughed behind their hands because when it came time for the raises NO ONE got "what they were eligible for" because, "Oh, you all misunderstood, that was the MAXIMUM amount you could make in the position you hold, NOT what we were going to give you." AND THIS ISN'T A RETAIL COMPANY. Sadly, it seems that ALL companies are of the mind set that their employees are something to be screwed over as much as possible, not something that actually makes their business run that deserves to be treated as such. The dollar is God and the people who work for you are nothing but the dirty crap that is going to take some of those divine dollars and you gotta make sure they take as few as possible.

All that said though, I am guilty of shopping at Walmart - I'm of this mind set:

The number of people who will shop at Walmart will always be high enough to keep them open - not enough people will ever band together to boy cot them because not enough people can afford to pay higher prices elsewhere - they (we) are ALREADY caught in the sticky, nasty web that has been spun by big retail and Walmart specifically - if you struggle against the web you'll just attract the spider all that much faster, the "spider", in this case, being what comes to bite you when you have spent more than you can afford shopping at other stores and don't have enough to pay your bills anymore.

Eventually, it will all catch up to us like the super giant star which expands so far that it's core can no longer support it and it collapses. The process of collapse releases enough energy to rip the star's outer layers to bits and that's what will eventually happen to the American economy, IMO, but when? I don't know. In my lifetime? In yours? But the fact is that the star has begun to expand, it is past the point of no return, nothing is going to stop the current trends in retail until they stop themselves.

So I am a pragmatist - and a hypocrite because of it - but I'd rather be a hypocrite that shops at Walmart and can pay all my bills because of it, than someone who deludes myself into thinking that anything is going to change until it has no other choice - the collapse I spoke of.

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Post by FyreGarnet » Tue May 17, 2005 10:38 am

Lucky for me, my family makes just enough that we don't have to shop at walmart. We did one time, not that long ago, and the things we bought were total pieces of junk. So we are never going there again. That's another reason why prices are so low, often. You get what you pay for, in a sense. The cheaper things are often not made well. I'm not saying to go out and buy the most expensive items, like crystal encrusted cell phones (Paris has way too much money and time). I'm just saying that if you are going to shop at stores with lower prices, make sure you are getting your money's worth. For if you buy a 5 dollar shirt, and can only wear it once because it completely falls apart, it's better to buy one for 10 that you can wear for a year.

Oh yeah, and there are thrift stores out there, like Goodwill and ARC. I've been known to get shirts there for 3 and 4 dollars, and they are in good shape. Some one probably outgrew them, or shrunk out of them, as I've been known to do.

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Post by Stormy » Tue May 17, 2005 11:17 am

FyreGarnet - that is a very good point about quality - I should clarify though that the things I buy at Walmart are 99% "necessity" items - food, deoderant, shampoo, soap, paper towels, etc. It makes no sense, financially, for me to pay $4.99 else where for the same deoderant that I can buy at Walmart for $2.49.

If we need something like a table or stero we go to a better (more expensive) store, because, as you said - pay for cheap and you get cheap.

I also agree fully with the statement:
...sometimes they are purchased simply "because I can afford them" rather "because I need them.
I believe that most people in America today buy much more than they need - why else would there be such a big business in Self Storage. IMHO, if you need to rent a little room to store all your extra stuff in, YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!!!

What is the point in having more than you can use, especially when it comes to furniture, clothing, bedding, etc.? Ken and I have enough clothes to get through about a week and a half before washing and that's too many as far as I'm concerned. I have 3 sets of sheets, two blankets, and one electric blanket for winter- I used to have only 2 sets of sheets, but had to buy a new one because one was just too old and ratty - it's now on "standby" in the closet until I decide if there is something else I can make from it or use it for. I see no point in having piles and piles of linens when I have only one bed. I have just enough cooking pots to make a full meal, just enough cookie sheets to rotate while baking. We have one loveseat, no couch, no chairs - why would I need them, there are only two of us and we usually sit on the floor? I have just enough shelves to hold my books, just enough towels to last 5 days before washing. Basically, in this house we only get "just enough" and when it comes to things like clothes and towels and linens, we use them up completely, until they are falling off our backs or full of holes, before we buy more. Over consumption doesn't just apply to food in American - it applies to everything.

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Post by morgana » Tue May 17, 2005 5:24 pm

Stormy, I really liked your speech on how retailers treat their employees. I almost liked it so much that I wanted to print it out and send it to the corporate office of the retail store I work for! Now if only they were human enough to read what you wrote and feel sorry for what they have done. Yeah right, that'll be the day...

Someone mentioned something about getting what you pay for at companies like Walmart that sell things for so cheap. What's worse than that, is the companies that sell absolute junk that falls apart instantly for rediculously high prices! This is how it is with the company I work for. I have literally sold someone a piece of jewelry and had them bring it back a minute later saying that it broke. Yes it is fake jewelry, but should anyone pay $14 for a rhinestone necklace when the rhinestones are just going to fall out, or the chain is just going to break? Even more disturbing is the fact that the jewelry is so poorly made that it has a tendency to tarnish while hanging on the wall! Also, I found out the hard way that while we are supposed to claim that our 14k gold earrings are 100% 14k gold, the backs of the earrings are not, as the BACKS of my ears got infected when I had them pierced at my store. Crappy merchandise for cheap prices is one thing, but crappy merchandise for rediculously high prices is another thing entirely. I also have numerous angry stories about pricey clothing that has fallen apart within a few times of wearing, but I'll save those for a later rant, lol.
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Post by Librarian » Tue May 17, 2005 9:12 pm

If you want a real scare, check out the produce sections in some discount stores.

Don't even think about what that really is in the meat section.

So you've got low quality goods and food being sold to people who can't afford better, but are the most in need of it.

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Post by Kobak » Thu May 19, 2005 7:04 am

reading the book Nickel and Dimed really turned me off to Wal*Mart. (not that i cared much for the store to begin with.) actually, it pretty much turned me off to capitalism in general.

i never shop there. i can get necessities (soap, junk food) even cheaper at local dollar stores, and clothes at the Salvation Army and Goodwill. sometimes a friend will drag me along to Wal*Mart, but i very rarely buy anything. last thing i bought was a kitschy t-shirt with a map of PA on it because i thought it was hilarious.
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Post by Kystar » Thu May 19, 2005 8:06 am

Wal-Mart has its uses.

Personally, I'm waiting to see if they're actually going to go through with building one in my neighborhood...not with any real JOY mind you...but there used to be a KMart and an Ames here...and both branches went belly up...so either I have to go 20-40 mins out of my way for any little clothing item...or I have to pay higher prices for crap at the Waterfront, the nearest shopping complex that has stores.

Really and honestly, the department chain I absolutely MISS is HILLS. They got bought out by Ames which sold cheaper stuff. They had nice cloths at good prices that were durable.

I hate the way WalMart screws people...but I have been known to shop there for some things regliously...mainly costume making and weapon-making materials for the old battle simulation game. THey had the best prices on basic cotton and duct tape around...not to mention contact cement and foam! LOL...ah, the olden days when I would get high building a sword the ngiht before heading out of town for a campout! LOL

But their policies are CRAP! I'd rather go to Ebay sometimes then deal with them.
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Post by Lotus » Sun May 22, 2005 6:02 pm

The other day I needed some bath supplies and tried to go to Walgreens. I walked in and started to get the stuff I needed but, put everything back when noticing the prices. They were double the price for everything I needed (sometimes triple)
I just could not justify paying 4 dollars for a pumice stone to scrub my feet. Nor 9 dollars to pay for my razor refills. It shocked me that even the generic brand face cleanser was close to 5 bucks. My list was long with stuff I needed (not wanted mind you).

Promptly I left the store and went to Walmart just so I could not pay over 30 dollars for what I needed when I had only 30 to spend.
A piece of pumice was a buck and a half, my razors were 7 dollars, face cleanser 3 and a half dollars. I got all I needed plus, a few on my maybe list while still on my budget of 30 dollars.

I buy these sort of little things at walmart not something that I need to hold up.


I could have only spent my money at the other store and got only half of what I needed but, It did not make sense.

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Post by scoia » Sun May 22, 2005 10:10 pm

I watched a documentary on Wal-Mart and it scared the crap out of me. I'm not from the U.S., but it does concern me. Our local version, K-Mart is owned by Wal-Mart, which is no surprise really, as
Wal-Mart are an enourmous corporation.

At the moment, I'm a firm believer of controlling the amount of imports we can receive. Globalisation and the beginnings of a free market economy have disastrous effects on workers, and only when people actually assert their rights can we stop these practices.

Trouble is, that 'we' must include the government when the corporations in question are so huge.

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