There has always been a taint of elitism wafting from the opposition to the construction of a Wal-Mart superstore in Pullman. Most of the time, the ironically misnamed Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) concealed its snobbery behind concerns for local businesses, most of which did not ask for PARD’s protection, or in the form of complaints that Wal-Mart would not compensate its employees to PARD’s standards.
Never mind that those who choose to work for Wal-Mart would be deciding for themselves that the compensation was satisfactory. But knowing what’s best for you even if you don’t is central to elitism.
The problem with this argument should be obvious. People don’t accept low wages because they’re satisfied with low wages. They accept low wages because they need to put food on the table. In other words, the bargain between employee and employee is not brokered on equal terms. And does anybody doubt that a Wal-Mart worker who complained about their wages would be fired instantly?
The author then goes on to make the classic What’s the Matter With Kansas? argument, using the same story Robin does as proof:
But now it seems that Wal-Mart has adjusted its business model to satisfy the underlying concerns that animate its opponents…Once the Wal-Mart is built, the tweed-jacketed PARDners will probably be able to purchase $500 bottles of wine or belly up to the sushi bar and treat their palates to raw fish and seaweed. That’s because Wal-Mart has decided to modify what it offers within its walls to conform to the specific cultures of the communities it serves.
This should go a long way toward addressing one major concern of Pullman’s Wal-Mart opponents — that Wal-Mart would invite the “intrusion of undesirable social elements” into the community…While the wienies and french fries sold at the Lewiston store might satisfy that demographic’s tastes, PARDners will be satisfied with nothing less than croissant and bean sprout sandwiches, or spicy hummus and water crackers, washed down with a Starbuck’s green tea frappucino chaser.
I certainly hope the bit about “undesirable social elements” is a reference to the well-known argument that Wal-Marts are crime magnets. Yet either way, this is nothing but a blatant attempt to switch subjects from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart opponents. The author of this editorial has nothing to say about China, or Wal-Mart draining Medicaid spending or Wal-Mart’s consistent lawbreaking regarding everything from the environment to immigration. All he’s interested in is calling people like me names.
I also think these Wal-Mart defenders are confusing shopping with love. Just because you shop at Wal-Mart doesn’t necessarily mean you like it. Go read BBCAmerican’s hilarious blog “Behind the Counter” in which he deals with a steady stream of unhappy Wal-Mart customers and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Or better yet, consider the results of this poll commissioned by Wake-Up Wal-Mart:
Fifty-six percent of Americans said Wal-Mart is bad for America, agreeing with a statement, “It may provide low prices, but the prices come with a high moral and economic cost for consumers.”
Thirty-nine percent agreed with the other side that Wal-Mart is good for America, because “it provides low prices and saves consumers money every day.”
Other results include that six in 10 Americans view Wal-Mart as a retail monopoly that threatens the American economy and 61 percent are concerned that Wal-Mart is too powerful an economic force in America. Sixty-three percent said elected leaders should investigate the impact of Wal-Mart’s business model.
Looks like the cultural elite in this country is getting bigger all the time.