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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Hard reality

Everyone wants to talk about the NSA right now, which is great. Personally, I have been bouncing from one theory to another. But before we return to the bouncing, let's pause to take a look at some hard realities. And for many working people, there is no harder reality than Walmart.

The company is having a big corporate confab in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the entertainment is said to include Justin Timberlake (I believe that he is some sort of singer) and Beyonce (also a singer, and absolutely gorgeous). Perhaps someone should ask those two if they don't have more respectable gigs to play.

More importantly, representatives of working people will also be there, trying to make their own voices heard:
Lobby group Making Change at Walmart raised over $9,000 on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo to bring to the meeting Kalpona Akter, a former child textile laborer from Bangladesh. She is being accompanied by Sumi Abedin, a survivor of the deadly fire that killed at least 112 garment workers at the Tazreen Fashion factory on the outskirts of Dhaka last year.

Akter will call on Walmart to sign a legally binding agreement to improve working conditions in her country’s textile factories that many of the company’s rivals have signed following a building collapse in April that left over 1,127 dead.
Bangladesh’s textile workers work 11 to 14 hours a day, six, sometimes seven, days a week for $37 a month, says Akter. Conditions are dangerous. A total of 1,239 workers were killed in the recent building collapse outside Dhaka and a factory fire last year, and another 450 were reported ill this week, some hospitalized, after drinking unsafe water at another factory. “Whenever workers try to organise, they are threatened, beaten,” said Akter.

Workers have little choice but to put up with the conditions, she said. “There is truly no alternative,” said Akter.
Meanwhile, things are also pretty bad in the U.S. -- especially in the warehouses that supply Walmart stores.
Garcia, 20, has worked in a warehouse since February 2012. Though she dreams of college, she struggles to get by on just $8 an hour, with no benefits. That means she has to take tough choices as she raises her two-year-old son, Christian. “Gas is so expensive. Sometimes I feel that I am only earning enough to pay for the gas that allows me to drive my car to my job,” she said. “I do not earn enough. I cannot survive like this.”
It's a little hard to get the public to rally in favor of store policies that would have the effect of raising prices. In essence, though, this is what we need.

If you happen to know Timberlake or Beyonce, perhaps you could ask them to choose their venues a little more thoughtfully.
Justin Timberlake is also an actor, and Beyonce is not gorgeous. Nice body, but the face looks like someone is pulling it backwards.
Well, Stephen, your attitude, however unfathomable, may work to my advantage. When Beyonce asks you for a date and you refuse, her ego will be so crushed that I will be able to swoop in and tell her how lovely she truly is.

I suppose I should also say something nice about her voice. Is it any good? You know I don't keep up with pop music...
Beyonce cannot sing worth a damn. She draws crowds because of her beauty. Justin has real talent. He can sing. He can dance. A marvelous performer. He is also considered hot by the dames. So, you didn't really treat the two equally, just fell for the pretty face, as is your wont. Which is fine for you. For me, I'll take Justin.
Im with you on the importance of the Walmart issue and the Beyonce issue.

However i think Walmart shareholders might be sensible targets. The company is clearly having shelf stocking issues which i think are related to their abusive employment practices.

Management are onevtrick ponies and are destroying the company. But i dont own the stock and i will be glad when they go

Why would a crowd gather to see a beautiful woman from a distance when it's easier to look at pictures on the internet? Then again, I don't go to concerts because I have better sound quality on mp3s. They lip sync at their concerts anyway, so why go and stand in a crowd of strangers, trying to peer over the stinking throng as someone urinates on my leg so I can heard the same track I've got at home over the din of idiots trying to sing along? Beyonce and Timberlake are both passably good-looking and no-doubt adequate singers, and they both get professionals to give them make-up, haircuts, airbrushing, autotuning and so on. All the rest is hype. The other two out of Destiny's Child are better looking. And not just because one of them went on Never Mind the Buzzcocks with prominent visible nipples, either.

As for Wal-mart, they are a profit-making company. Not a Co-operative. One of the best things that could be done as an economic stimulus would be to raise the minimum wage substantially. That might also drive down unemployment, thereby strengthening the bargaining position of labour. High structural unemployment levels are an intentional right-wing policy.
I wish there was some sort of short term solution to Walmart and similar ilk. Nothing I can come up with passes the reality test. Wouldn't it be great if everybody bought ethical goods or if they can't afford them would buy used or make their own instead of resorting to cheap imports from a box store? Yeah, that's going to happen. I just have to settle for the idea that sooner or later the beast will starve itself and people will rediscover how to have a thriving local economy that feeds back into itself.
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