There was this ominous thudding sound. It was rhythmic; it shook the house. I wondered if we were finally gearing up for our 9.0 earthquake. Then I figured it was pile-driving somewhere nearby. Finally I realized it had to be Godzilla. Thud. Thud. Thud.
I was right the third time. Says here in the paper that Walmart wants to jam in seventeen new stores near here and wipe out all the other grocery stores. No, I’m not making that up–they admit it right up front. It’s the kind of thing you can do when you’re city-stompin’ size.
As a liberal, I protest. That’s what liberals do: we protest. We’d be so much better off if we just started packing like everyone else, made up shit and blasted it through the internet. Not us. We mass together politely like large outdoor book groups and we yell “What do we want?” Fair trade clothing, a living wage for all, sustainable agriculture and universal health care! “When do we want it?” We’d like it now if it’s not too much trouble! We’re pathetic.
Why do liberals hate Walmart? No matter what you’ve heard, it has nothing to do with arugula. That’s the line: liberals are such snobs that they only want to patronize stores with arugula and wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart. We think we’re better than everyone else. We’re elite.
By “elite” they mean “effete.” The subtext is that arugula is an effeminate form of iceberg lettuce. And that drives us liberals nuts, because then we have to counter that it has nothing to do with arugula, and even if it did, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with being effeminate, if that’s the way we roll, and now you’ve got us talking about that, and before you know it they’ve got us so worked up we end up calling someone a Philistine, and that’s it, game over, Walmart wins. Thud. Thud. Thud.
So that’s the narrative. Liberals hate Walmart because they’re snobby arugula-eaters and they don’t really give a damn about poor people who might appreciate always low prices, always. It’s a deliberate smear and there’s plenty of money behind thinking it up. It’s propaganda, and it works, as propaganda is meant to do. But it isn’t any more truthful than the Democrats’ idea that there is a Republican War On Women. That is total hyperbole. Plenty of Republicans like women just fine, either one at a time or several on the side, and the ones who don’t are willing to maintain one as a spousal avatar. War On Women, indeed. At worst they might be getting a little woody, thinking about bunching up the attractive ones in an internment camp, but war? No.
Liberals hate Walmart because it got way too big and powerful, big enough to re-write the rules in their favor, bigger than entire countries, and they had most of the economic marbles. And instead of trading them, they set them rolling until they’d all reached the lowest point on the planet. They found a bunch of people who would work for practically nothing and didn’t need insurance and scoffed at environmental controls and bingo, that’s where they got things made cheap. Then they brought all that back to America and sold it real cheap to this huge market of people who weren’t doing as well as they used to because their jobs, directly or indirectly, went to China. It’s a genius move, really. You shear the sheep and then you sell them cheap wool sweaters. If they’re cold enough, they’ll even be grateful.
A good liberal pays attention to the true cost of things, and adds up the environmental cost, and the social cost, and the cost of war, and spends his money accordingly even if it means he doesn’t get as much stuff; and the rest of us at least aspire to doing that much of the time. And we won’t pay Godzilla to stomp our town. Not even if he starts selling cheap arugula.
"You sheer the sheep and then you sell them cheap wool sweaters." Best line ever to describe what has happened. Wal-Mart, aka The Company Store, as in "sold my soul to the company store." This is a great reminder as to why we buy at local businesses, despite the cost. Thank You. Very much.
Yep, same here. We buy local and I am proud to say I eat arugula that is made right here. Godzilla has never gotten a dime of this liberal's money!
A huge walmart recently opened in central austin, and the uproar ahead of time was mighty. Unfortunately, all the protests, meetings, and human chains didn't make a difference.
But I have sworn I will never shop at that store. It's the least I can do.
… have been avoiding/boycotting Walmart for years…. no service/no choices/ and it really isn't cheaper. Quality is it's own reward, it durability, functionality and performance. Little of that exists at Wally-World.
Nice to know I'm not the only one who objects to Walmart. Oh, wait, I have to pick some arugula out of my teeth.
We fought off Godzulla in our neighborhood. I can be done, but it's a LOT of work, and now the lot is still vacant. The local wildlife couldn't be happier. Happy ducks, geese, possums and hoboes. The local grocery stores are happy, but since they're all big chain stores, I don't know if that counts. And the local Liberals have learned how to work together for good. Portland IS wierd! Roxie
"You shear the sheep and then you sell them cheap wool sweaters. If they're cold enough, they'll even be grateful."
Oh Murr, you are a freaking genius. Someday you'll have to do a post about why liberals are so funny and conservatives are pretty much…not.
Different take down here in Corvallis – see we love WalMart primarily because they built one in Lebanon (OR). It draws the dull denizens of Albany AWAY from Corvallis like files to, uh… you know. It worked so well that Trader Joes planted a store here in Corvalls. Hell, Joes can't restock the arugula fast enough for us.
Whether Wal-Mart gets to do its thud thud thud here in my town is being put to a vote in just a few days… we'll see.
WalMart is my last, last choice for shopping. But then, I'm a liberal.
Right on, Murr! Brilliant! Did you know that there is not one single Walmart inside the beltway? Land prices are too high I suppose. Recently, they decided to drop their bid to put in a store on the edge of the Bull Run Battlefield in Manassas; maybe too much trouble to fight all the bad publicity + negative local sentiment they were generating. Target is now carrying groceries…Elaine
This is an excellent example of why it helps to be a Gemini. All you have to do is pick the phase of the moon to decide where you will shop. the conservative side of me drives me to places like Dollar General when purchasing things such as household cleansers and coon food. Yes, that's right, coon food. Cheap dog food I use to feed the raccoons. After all, the poor devils are just trying to make a living like everyone else and I do what I can to help. The liberal side of me wouldn't be caught dead in a place like that except when, like now, I'm out of bird seed and I'm on my way to Walmart because that's where it's cheapest. After all, what's a little hurt pride in the face of saving wildlife?
We must sometimes be conflicted liberals, buying birdseed at BigFatMart. You can tell we're still liberals because we feel bad about it.
So how do we grow enough liberals (aka people who care about others and the environment and think about the consequences of their actions)to save our individual cultures and have a world that will give pleasure to our grandchildren.
Interesting perspective. In our city, WalMart is the only company that employs seniors who need help making ends meet.
Is it wrong of me to say I love you? Cause I really, really do. Shearing sheep, indeed!
I know, Margie, that's what can happen when you're the only game in town. That also allows them to do great things–like sell pharmaceuticals cheap, which they can do for the same reason the government could if we had a single-payer system. They's BIG.
Now pardon me while Swamp and I have a little quiet time…
Ah luvs ya', Murr.
I remember when the Rite-Aid moved to town and put our local family-owned pharmacy/everything shop out of business. Then came Long's and Albertsen's. Fortunately, we still have a lot of local businesses and people in this comparatively small community value and support them. If Walmart ever shows its ugly face around here, I will resort to violence. Good post, my friend.
I love your comment, "You can tell we're still liberals because we feel bad about it." to Mr. Charleston. I hear what you're saying, I believe what you're saying, but have recently moved to a teeny tiny town with NOTHIN' around for miles. Been here for two years and soooo happy they are putting in a Walmart soon! But you can tell I'm a liberal because while I am happy…I feel bad about it.
Says here in the paper that Walmart wants to jam in seventeen new stores near here and wipe out all the other grocery stores.
Walmart grocery departments fucking underwhelm me. But luckily I can still buy gun powder in the sporting goods department in case things go to hell and I have to blow things up.
Bless your heart! Best post ever. Makes me feel not so alone. I am watching my tongue in my family—I've already alienated most of them and the elections are still in the future. Heaven knows how much damage I could do giving my opinions before then.
Politics can't be all good when they divide families and the country! Please keep writing—it's a bright spot in my day!
…and then there's Target. I don't know if they have arugula, but their ethics are commendable.
We now live in a small city within walking distance of several stores. I buy meat from one store, bread from another, pizza from the local non-chain restaurant. We get fresh veggies delivered to our door from a local farm May through December. My way of NOT supporting the WalMarts of the world.
I don't shop at Voldemart but I have used their washroom. The revenge of the liberal!
Aww, Tiffin. You peed at Walmart. That's okay.
MerCyn, THAT's the way it's done! Good for you for living in such a spot. This is something Portland works on–being walking distance from what you need. It's important, and it needs to be thought out.
Brilliant! There was a time in my life when pennies felt like dollars, and I would pray for the day when I could afford my morals and not shop at that store. Thankfully a job finally came along, and I drive the distance to SuperTarget or shop at the mom/pop shop nearby. We had a beautiful wildlife sanctuary near my home – it tweren't big, but I'm sure the animals who lived there thought it was. The evil Waltons convinced our county commission that their tax dollars would be better for the bottom line than a wildlife sanctuary. I shed a liberal tear the day that battle was lost. We had a little town in South Florida with a nice selection of farms and mom/pop stores and a not-too-big non-chain grocery store. The evil Waltons decided to move in. It literally killed the town, and once everyone had moved away, even the Walmart closed down. Driving through there is sad now – no gas stations – no sandwiches – nothing but empty buildings.
Thank you for sharing your brilliance.
Totally right on! The whole Wal Mart thing is like Faust story.
Joe Bagaent wrote in his book "Deer Hunting with Jesus" that in his hometown in Virginia the Rubbermaid company had a long history of paying good living wages, health benefits, and a more than decent working environment. Wal-Mart approached them several years ago saying unless they lowered the prices on their products they would cancel their contracts and switch over to another company with factories overseas that charged only a fraction of what rubbermaid did.
This forced Rubbermaid to change the relationship with their employees to the point the factory in Joe's hometown, while still there, pays far less, does not have anywhere near the same benefits, and the work environment sucks.
The middle class just has no idea how all that cheap Wal-Mart crap they are buying is the same as slitting their own throats.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. Many people are familiar with the undercutting at the local level–the driving out of other stores. But they started at the manufacturing level. They're probably the most important factor in eviscerating the middle class.
OMG, Murr….someday I will have to tell you about my experience WORKING (briefly) at that horrible place. Thank you for this one!
Mr. Charleston: I will personally send you a check for the difference between Horrible Place bird seed and the next higher priced store for as long as it takes if you promise not to go there ever again.
I'd offer to buy gun powder for BBC but that's a whole other issue for me…..respectfully speaking.
I just got a note from a friend in Germany. She took parental leave just before her first child was born from the German division of IBM, eleven years ago. Her youngest (of three) is now six, so she now has to decide if she wants to resume her job. By German law they had to hold the position for her. Eleven years. Now that's a country that values families. Makes all that lip service to family values here sound pretty damn cheap.
The thing is, if you let them do whatever they want, Walmart is what you end up with. Once the unions were busted, the writing was on the wall. The Waltons aren't especially evil, they're just efficiently working the system that a generation of not enforcing labor-organizing protections has created. American workers now are possibly the most timid & cowed & docile in the world.
Oops. The leave was from German IBM. The child was born from her. Just to be clear. 🙂
I haven't set foot in a Walmart in years–for all the reasons that you cite. But I think we need to revisit some of the old arguments, because in some cases, they're no longer so true. Walmart isn't any less evil; they're just less obvious about it–and we need to acknowledge that.
Keep 'em out, girl, whatever it takes. Down the road from us, Pawleys Island did practically illegal things to keep Walmart out and, when challenged on it, they rewrote their zoning laws entirely just to that end.
It worked so well, Fresh Market decided to bless them with their presence and it gets no holier than that in retaildom, unless it's Trader Joe's. Love that Two Buck Chuck. And the white bean and basil hummus? Why, I could expostulate on it ad infinitum. So lovely to take along for Prius-gating picnics at the outdoor Shakespeare Festival And Book Fair…
Sprawl-Mart has a lot to answer for… and it's not an arugula snob thing. It's about ruining the small business owner and then treating their own workers poorly.
Urgh, well-timed post. Walmart's a-moving in down here in SA. News just broke that they've done some deal with our government and will be rolling out stores next year.
A sad day for the libs, but the poor are rejoicing in the streets … in a developing country I can't see the way round this conundrum.
They broke ground yesterday (June 2) on new Walmart here in Rapid City. Problem here is that the Big Boxes (Walmart, Lowe's, Best Buy)limit your choices, you get to buy what they offer, they make the choices of what to stock, not the consumers. Clerks rarely know their product lines as well as you do (you did your research before setting out to buy product). Very frustrating.
We do much on line buying of certain things, not because we don't want to support local businesses, but because they are no longer in business. No genuine camera store closer to us than Denver or Minneapolis ( a day's drive away)for example.
Now Husband Dan has always ranted against Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the vast amount of money going into conservative causes. Then we visited my son in Charleston and NHD went to Wal-Mart and bought several tee shirts. I asked him what happened. He said, "They were really cheap."
Great post! On the other side of the Atlantic the whole Walmart issue seems a bit surreal to us… but we've had similar issues here with the giant supermarkets Carrefour etc… Fortunately there are enough of them (and regular supermarkets) to keep each other on their toes… and many people don't go anyways because they prefer shopping in their neighbourhood. Advantages of living in a place where you can get around without a car.
Mom and Pop stores tend to be not much more than one step away from slavery either. Long hours and low "pay". Stores of any kind exist to serve customers as efficiently and effectively as possible. When they no longer do that, they go out of business as profit is simply a measure of how well you serve your customers and how long you will be able to continue to do so.
Where Wal-Mart and others like it get lost is that they only think they need to answer to their shareholders who happen to be the only ones with a hammer. The other two members of the triple bottom line, Community both global and local, and Environment are not able to speak for themselves. Wal-Mart could be a tremendous force for good and still be profitable – if they chose to.
I am a proud "arugula-eater"…I avoid WalMart by growing my own…