loaded up and truckin’

I don’t know if you’ve been following along, but some of us have been having a little bit of a fight over in the last Wal-Mart thread. It seems that not all of us agree that Wal-Mart shouldn’t be able to subsidize their non-sustainable business practices with tax-payer dollars. On a related note, one of the pro-Wal-Mart contingent recently suggested that American corporations, like Wal-Mart, should be able to do whatever they damn well please; that the minimum wage should be repealed and that other worker protections should be rolled back. He claimed to be of the opinion that the competition of the open market would quickly eliminate companies for whom no one wanted to work, do business with, etc. (And, I would assume, if he were to meet the ghosts of the 140+ women that died in the Triangle Factory Fire, he’d say it was their fault for not having found better jobs with things like fire exits, and, while we’re at it, higher wages.)

Essentially his argument was that companies should have a free hand and that there should be no oversight or regulation. A corporation, like Wal-Mart, in his opinion could do no wrong that would not be addressed in the American marketplace (in its god-like glory). And, it would follow, the people most harmed by these companies (the workers) would be “asking for it,” as they didn’t just find employment elsewhere… Well, I’ve got a new news story today, and this one isn’t about Wal-Mart using illegal migrant labor, or locking people in their stores at night, or paying wages that put their employees beneath the poverty line. No, this one pertains to something that might actually affect those people, like our Wal-Mart defending friend, who have been smart enough up until now to navigate the system and stay out of the Wal-Mart workforce. It seems that Wal-Mart is lobbying to amend the Federal Highway Bill to extend the time that truckers can sit behind the wheel to 16 hours (as long as they take a 2-hour unpaid break). This, I would think, would put even the most successful family with the biggest SUV as risk…. The mm.com SUV-driving trolls have often pointed out that they’d kill me, in my little hybrid, if we ran into one another on the highway. I wonder how their rugged off-road vehicles would fare against a solid wall of metal being piloted by a wired long-haul trucker though…. Like it or not, the actions taken by Wal-Mart do ripple through society. And, cheap toilet paper, my friends, does have a cost.

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25 Comments

  1. Posted March 9, 2005 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Quick, blame the truckers!

  2. chris
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Walmart is as Walmart does. For that guy that shops at Walmart, what does he buy there? I am so curious…the one that had a huge portion of his budget going there. See here’s the thing. Where else can you get an 80 pack of corn dogs to feed the kids, 20 lb bags of those big semi-pony cans of Heinies, videos of Veggie Tales, and Green Day CDs? (of course, how can you equivocate patriotism w/ censorship? But I futiley digress) WHAT, dear God, what is it that you need there?

    They have got to have Walmart because you just CAN’T find that shit anywhere else. Let them have it, I really don’t care. Actually, I do.

  3. JF
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Veggie Tales videos ROCK! And Chris yes I buy at Wal-Mart and Sams Club to buy in BULK!! The price per unit is so much less and saving money (what the government ALLOWS me to keep) is quite important to my family. Now that they have groceries there we go at least once a week. Any other questions?

    And yes Mark I do support getting rid of minimum wage and allowing it to be a contract between the employee and employer.

  4. stella
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    You could buy in bulk at yer local co-op too.
    Also, Im told Costco has somewhat reasonable employment practices, if one just must have their fill of cheap, Chinese, plastic, crap

  5. chris
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    What are you buying though? I’ll tell you my shopping list if you tell me yours.

    Actually, I am kind of freaked at my monthly grocery bill.

    You know JF, this could be a kind of cool comparison

  6. chris
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Stella, I don’t think he means that kind of bulk (you know the kind that takes cooking beyond a microwave or LOTS of boiling water). But bulk like 200 count “pearl” (ie-plastic) applicator tampax, 5 pound box of honey nut cheerios, and a 5L bottle of dioxin.

    BUT I really don’t know, I’m guessing. Are you curious, I am? Hey Mark, are you the blogger that linked to a website having found shopping lists?

  7. JF
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    I am freaked by my monthly grocery bill as well. I wish I knew all of the things my wife buys there. I would have to say it is the one stop shopping mentality. I know we do buy those weenie things and corn dogs you mentioned as well as a monster box of Gogurts.

    JF

  8. mark
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Jerod, I think you missed my point. I was suggesting that Wal-Mart and its practices might affect YOUR family, and that not even your giant SUV would save you.

  9. Ken
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Why have any wage at all? It IS what made cotton king. (The government has to subsidize the shit out of that, now.) How long until Walmart’s corporate practices catch up to it and the government (instead of just letting it die) has to bail it out. We’ll all be paying for that cheap toilet paper then.

  10. Kristin
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Why don’t people who advocate a free market economy realize that that is exactly what generated organized labor, which lead to minimum wage and safety standards? If you eliminated those things the market would just generate them again. The economy spawns attitudes, behaviors, regulations, and systems as well as products and jobs. It’s organic.

  11. Teddy Glass
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    This time, it’ll be different though, Kristin. This time they have riot police, urban assault vehicles, rubber bullets, and private security armies that put the Pinkertons of old to shame. That’s what they’re banking on.

  12. brett
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    “they have riot police, urban assault vehicles, rubber bullets, and private security armies “

    Teddy- The odds seem daunting, yes, but there’s always hope, as I believe history shows:

    “In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem. If no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire, The A Team.

    [Machine gun fire]

    [Jeep crashing]

    [BA kicking wooden door in]”

  13. JF
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    I got your point. I drive a Maxima so either way I am toast. Actually I agree that some of the things that Wal-Mart (and others) is down right wrong. Your over the road trucking example is a good one. I also disagree with their involvement with eminent domain issues where they get the government involved to secure land from unwilling persons to build their super centers:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/LAW/02/21/scotus.eminent.domain/

    But do believe employment contracts are between the employer and employee and not the governments domain.

  14. chris
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Last year, on the BQE, a truck fell over and squashed and killed a couple in their SUV. The BQE!!! ie-not a lot of reckless driving as too many cars.

    I hear next they are going to allow triple trailer hauling. See Hunter S. should have stayed alive for this-crank, triple haulers, and decreased down time. (Have you ever seen film footage of these land behemoths screaming sown the highway in Australia-even in 2 dimensions it is a bone rattling site).

  15. Posted March 10, 2005 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    If only they could figure out a way to attach several hundred trailers together, and move them all at once. Maybe they could put the wheels into some sort of a ‘track’ so that it wouldn’t be as dangerous. They could call the whole thing a ‘train’.

    Now, let’s talk about commuting, so I can reinvent the interurban trolley system.

  16. Posted March 10, 2005 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Brett, we could run the “trains” through some of the long, narrrow parks that have been appearing for no apparant reason.

  17. Posted March 10, 2005 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    steven- that sounds perfect. Now for the question of who will build the system.

    I propose the government establish some sort of a ‘Works Progress Administration’, which could bring jobs to the economy and improve the infastructure at the same time.

  18. Ken
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Let’s still call it the WPA but since it will be used exclusivly by Walmart, we will call it the Walmart Product Accelerator. The government can subsidize the building of this infastructure since it will be used by all of us in the form of stocked shelves and it will keep the price of toilet paper at a current levels. It may EVEN make it cheaper. The stores can be run by those Gannon-bots that Mark invented. Walmart can keep the oil and electicity that they require to a minimum because, fuck them, they’re robots.

  19. Posted March 10, 2005 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Ken- I see one problem, namely that of Asimov’s third law of robotics kicking in.

    I don’t think they (the robots) would regard providing frozen corn dogs as really ‘protecting humans from harm’ (in fact it’s potentially the opposite), so there might be a loophole of self-preservation in which they might actually rebel more quickly than their human counterparts.

    I realize you could argue that the three laws needn’t be hard-wired into their positronic brains, but to me that’s just asking for trouble.

    For more information, please see Philip K. Dick.

  20. Dave Morris
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I think the reason that Wal-Mart and many other companies are pushing for the longer hours is to keep the merchandise constantly en route. Many companies are using shipping containers and semis as moving warehouses. It seems like the logical extension of making the warehouse into a retail store.

    Here is a clip from an article on the subject:

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1316/is_4_36/ai_n6006917

    By the way, I think it is interesting to note that 5 of the top ten richest people in America are Waltons. At what point is it enough? It seems that the free market favors efficiency monsters that think only of growing and protecting the corporate body at the expense of the individual rather than the benevolent monarch who balances the needs of the leviathan with those of the individual.

  21. chris
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Dear Brett,Ken, and Mr. Morris,

    Your level of humor interwoven w/ both political astuteness and postmodern American history acumen is truly awesome (not skater vernacular awesome but real awe).

  22. Ken
    Posted March 11, 2005 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Dave, that is an interesting aspect of the supply chain that I didn’t realize was being exploited. It seems more retail warehouses would be an answer but probably not one the large retailers would want use. It probably comes down to the price of real estate vs. the cost of shipping something, which they have to do anyway. I would imagine that zoning for warehouse space in an area that would be optimal for retail would also be a problem for them.

  23. Posted March 11, 2005 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    You know now that the truckers are drug-tested it’s much harder to pull those 20-hour shifts. Perhaps in conjunction with lengthening their shifts, Walmart could lobby to repeal drug laws so it can save a few dollars per haul.

  24. mark
    Posted March 12, 2005 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    “Who are we to tell children that they can’t work in coal mines?”

    – Brett, channeling the mm.com trolls, last night at the meeting of the Ypsi Arbor Progressive Book Club

  25. Ken
    Posted March 12, 2005 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    “Ypsi Arbor” reminds me of the bowling alley up on Washtenaw. I googled it and the book club comes first followed by the lanes.

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