Monday, November 26, 2012

The great Walmart debate

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Walmart image

With another Black Friday (er, Thursday) in the books, the national media has Walmart on the brain, but this year it’s not just stories of deal-seeking grannies elbowing their fellow citizens out of the way. With nationwide protests over Walmart’s labor practices, the talking heads are taking stands — is the retail behemoth an economic force for good or an exploitive villain?

After an interesting discussion on MSNBC’s "Up With Chris Hayes," Reason's Peter Suderman gave a 17-point Twitter defense of Walmart (basically, he argues low prices for low-income folks is good; Walmart’s labor practices ain’t that bad). Kathleen Gier of The Washignton Monthly, meanwhile, counters that because Walmart is so big and its “ideology is so passionately anti-labor, it has been one of the driving forces in our economy that has been disempowering and immiserating American workers and accelerating economic inequality.” The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann is similarly harsh but lays the blame on all of us as consumers. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post takes the middle road:

Whether Wal-Mart has been, on net, “good” or “bad” is a complicated question to frame and a devilishly tough one to answer. Soon, I’m sure, the question will be whether Amazon.com has been good or bad. I wish I had a definitive answer. All I’m certain of is that Wal-Mart has been — and Amazon.com will be — economically transformative.

Were the protests a success? Depends on who you ask. Gier called it a “rousing success” while the Daily Beast’s Megan McArdle labeled it “underwhelming.” Strike organizers claim that protests took place at more than 1000 Walmart stores and hundreds of workers walked off the job; Walmart officials call this “grossly exaggerated” and claim that less than 50 employees took part, about the number that missed their scheduled shift last year.

Matthew Yglesias at Slate suggests that workers and unions have too much at stake to mount an action that would move the needle:

To create a situation in which politicians fear creating a bloody massacre, the workers have to be motivated and prepared to risk a bloody massacre. That's a high bar.

What say y'all?

Tags: ,

Favorite

Speaking of Walmart

Comments (26)

Showing 1-26 of 26

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-26 of 26

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Over? Did you say over? David Koon comments on Election 2014

    David Koon issues a battle cry for Tuesday's losers. It's Bluto-worthy.
    • Nov 6, 2014
  • Arkansas cities lag in 'equality index' for LGBT people; Fayetteville leads

    The Human Rights Campaign has assessed treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 353 cities, including five in Arkansas, and the result puts Fayetteville on top of those studied in Arkansas, though all fall below the national average score.
    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Homicide victim identified as TC Edwards, local musician

    Little Rock police are still withholding identification of a man found shot to death early Sunday on Howard Street, but multiple reports on social media are tying the death to that of a well-known figure on the local music scene, TC Edwards. The suspect in a criminal case brought over crimes against Edwards will likely be reviewed for potential involvement in his death.
    • Dec 8, 2014

Most Shared

  • Lawsuit filed over settlement in forum-shopping class action case

    The lawyers facing disciplinary action by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith over their settlement of a class action lawsuit against the USAA insurance company have a new legal headache.
  • Cherokee tribe backs the casino amendment

    NOW, I get it. The group circulating petitions for a constitutional amendment to establish casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties reveals that the deal anticipates operation of the casino in Washington County by the Cherokee tribe that now has casino operations in Oklahoma.
  • A modest proposal for charter schools

    It was just a little over a year ago when Baker Kurrus was hired as the superintendent of the Little Rock School District. With new Education Commissioner Johnny Key there was a strong concern that the Little Rock school system would be converted to all charter schools and the entire public education system would disappear.
  • Highway Department: Key parts of new Clarendon bridge installed upside down.

    The future of the old Highway 79 bridge at Clarendon is uncertain, but it's a good thing the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department didn't jump the gun on demolishing it.That's because the new bridge at Clarendon — or at least the western approach, which is elevated over U.S. Fish and Wildlife wetlands — is snakebit.
  • Mansion wars

    It has never been as consequential as Versailles, which helped trigger the French Revolution, but the royal palace of Arkansas's First Family has always been an object of political intrigue.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation