Good morning. I'm away on my annual Wildacres Writer's Retreat atop Pompeii's Point in North Carolina. I've been reading Fred Goldstein's Low-Wage Capitalism and thought his "Why the bosses need Walmart" is instructive. Enjoy Part 7:
On the home front, Walmart tracks every item rung up on every cash register by every cashier. It has central communications and its loading workers wear headsets for perpetual monitoring. It own the largest private satellite communications system in the United States and links every store location to its central office. Combining communications technology with software, Walmart tracks every item sold. It compels many of its suppliers to adopt similar technology in order to speed up workers -- what the bosses call achieving efficiency -- so the suppliers can come in with the lowest prices. Walmart and its capitalist admirers continually wax eloquent about the company's low prices, as if it were giving away money to the masses. ?The estimates of how much money consumes save goes all the way from $100 billion a year to $300 billion a year, depending upon which authority is used. All the bourgeois experts say it's a tradeoff, low wages for low prices. Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott bragged, "In effect it gives them a raise every time they shop with us." But this argument flies in the face of intuition. After all, if every time workers shopped at Walmart they were getting a raise and saving so much money, then why are the vast majority of workers who shop there living from paycheck to paycheck? Why are so many of the customers of Walmart (and other low-price discount retailers) in personal debt? I fact, CEO Scott contradicted himself in virtually the same sentence when he declared how much of a benefactor his company was to the working class. "These savings are a lifeline for millions of middle- and lower-income families who live from payday to payday," he declared. Customers shopped at Walmart 7.2 billion different times in the year 2006. The masses should be rolling in wealth if they got a raise every time they went there. The fact is, however, that the average annual income of the people who shop at Walmart is $35,000 a year. An article in the Washington Post that reported this figure called Walmart a "force for poverty relief," saying its "$200 billion-plus assistance to consumers may rival many federal programs."
Previously... Yes, I realize that Goldstein as leader and member of the secretariat of the Workers World Party has a point of view anathema to the majority of people in the United States, but he consistently raises points that I think important and worthy of deep discussion concerning our present economic hierarchy in general and Walmart in particular. I sincerely hope that when I return from my retreat I'll find the beginning of discussion that brings a thoughtful, large and varied voice to The Writing On The Wal. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.


  1. […] ON LOW-WAGE CAPITALISM, PART 7… On the home front, Walmart tracks every item rung up on every cash register by every cashier. It has central communications and its loading workers wear headsets for Keep reading… Posted in Walmart No Comments » […]

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