[Homestead] Saying it like it is: Don't Blame WalMart

Clansgian at wmconnect.com Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Mon Feb 28 09:40:18 EST 2005


Gene asks:


> How do you guys feel about 
> these things? Do you shop at WalMart and Home Depot? How do you feel about 
> the values dilemma?
> 

I shop at WalMart and Home Despot basically because I am an evil person.  I 
was concerned that I wasn't quite evil enough, so I switched my ISP to WalMart 
Connect.

First as to WalMart paying low wages:  maybe.  Wages are pretty low in this 
area to begin with.  But Gene being in the real estate business, I've often 
pointed to a certain house and said "That house positively is NOT worth $500K" 
which often follows with the observation that it is worth whatever someone is 
willing to pay for it.  Fair enough.  But that applies to wages as well.  A job 
is worth what someone is willing to accept to do it.  To say this or that job 
SHOULD pay $15 and hour with health insurance is as meaningless as for me to 
say that house SHOULD sell for $100K.  (This is the same argument used for why 
teachers SHOULD get higher pay and it is absurd for the same reason).

Secondly there's this:  My last trip to Lowe's and the Home Despot I was 
looking for some hardwood dowels for making a 55 gallon palstic drum into a pork 
salting chamber.  Last summer I bought 5/8" dowels for about 59 cents each.  
Everyone I found last week at both stores were $2.79 each!   I got the idea of 
using wooden screen door spline instead .... 32 cents a foot!   I asked on of 
the lumbermen there and he told me what I highly suspected.  For whatever 
reason, right now millwork isn't being done in China as it had been.  The 
difference between a 59 cent dowel and a $2.79 dowel is the difference between paying 
American wages and benefits and shipping the hardwood to China, having it 
milled there, and shipping back the dowel.   My point is that we are living in the 
Land of the Lotus Eaters, and have been for some time.  Does refusing to shop 
at WalMart and Home Despot have anything but token value?  I'm thinking not.  
If that is our conviction and we bought only things that were made by workers 
paid wages comparable to our own, we would immediately become very 
impoverished.  The ratio of cost represented by my dowels would be reflected in clothing, 
manufacured itmes, electronics, etc.   Most of the people on lists such as 
this could not afford a computer and so wouldn't be on lists like this.

The influence of WalMart is like the influence of taxes and oil, it permeates 
everything.  Even if you shop at Honest Joe's instead of WalMart, Joe buys 
much of what he needs in his business from WalMart and Sam's.  And he's able to 
pay more modest wages because he and his workers can also shop at Home Despot 
and the Mart.  There's no real escaping it unless you creep back into the 
mountains and become a total Ludite.   Like me.  I've always said I was your best 
example.  Now, I've got to go ... the weather is turning cold and I want to 
get some more plastic sheeting from WalMart to cover the flats in the green 
house.  

James



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