Tag Archive: WalMart

A-C Meetup: Poor Lovers Like Us–Illusion, Japan, and the Wholly Walton Empire by Galtisalie

Some illusions are not good. Keeping up appearances can be dangerous. We should have the courage to admit that we or those we love or should love are in need. A political party that is too afraid to speak this message is nearly worthless.

I love the honest moment many critics hate in Akira Kurisawa’s One Wonderful Sunday (1947) when the director, through the female co-lead, confesses the act of creating for the public good by turning to us, the viewers, and begging for help for the poor lovers of post-WWII Japan: “There are so many poor lovers like us.”

Generations later, the Japanese left is by and large retaining its moral courage against a denialist onslaught that would have fit right in with Fascist days gone by. In a vicious campaign of moral inversion that would make Karl Rove proud, those who dare to stand by the historical veracity of the exploitation of “comfort women” are themselves scandalized. The current conservative Japanese effort to expunge from history the Japanese military’s mass brutalizing of women during WWII is, needless to say, itself deeply shameful. But this need for maintenance of societal illusion is by no means a new creation. Nor can the U.S. exempt itself from criticism with respect to its own deep and wide illusion at home and abroad, and in particular with respect to Japan.  

In these sad days it is difficult to remember except with sadness that not too long ago a first term presidency was won on a simultaneously discomforting and audacious vision

The title of The Audacity of Hope was derived from a sermon delivered by Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wright had attended a lecture by Dr. Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in the late 1980s, on the G. F. Watts painting Hope, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting – “with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God … To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope… that’s the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt’s painting.”

While “her” audacity is commendable, where is “ours”? Can we look on at a person in such a condition and not ask why and then do all we can to change those conditions?

This vision, which was ultimately an appeal to honestly assess the requirements of justice in the service of love, has been diminished through a societal psychosis brought about only in part by an opposition party strategically incapable of telling the truth on anything serious. The Republican Party is built on lying, to be sure. But it has received decades of assistance from the pathetic unwillingness of the U.S.’s so-called liberal party to have the audacity to honestly call even for old time liberal religion and from the pathetic unwillingness of the so-called liberal media to have the audacity to expose lies on a prolonged basis except of the inconsequential variety–such as the covering up of the pathetic sex life of a president with a consenting intern. While I hope most of us would agree that Bill Clinton was a putz, our collective political lives should not turn based on what he does with his. Had he turned to the camera and said “There are so many poor [so to speak] lovers like us” we all should have clapped, laughed, or yawned, but certainly immediately moved on.

It is worth pondering who is really running this sickly thickly syrupy daytime theatre of life in the U.S.–so comfortable with societal psychosis once reserved for dreams of a heavenly one–while we put on our daily generally modest costumes. We have lost the will to pray, oh Lord, for a Mercedes Benz or even a new pickup, although we may still feel this unexplained ungratified compulsion to purchase new gizmos with whatever is left over after the tank of gas that will get us from our trailer to our part time jobs if we can get them.  

It can sometimes be difficult, however, to tell the actors from the playwrights, for even the playwrights have to play dress up, or, more typically, dress down. When you are an imperial family, it is important to look the part, which will vary according to the needs of the occasion. If your power is mainly cultural, with pretentions of divinity, your plumage may need to be bold. While living large you may feel compelled to use your women and children more like props than actors on the stage of your pampered world.

If your power is economic, you may need to dress like regular small business folk on the way to the quaint grand opening of a new five and dime, complete with soda fountain. Your appearance should reflect the business needs of your milieu, even if that means you too must look like you eat tons of that processed corn-shit you sell to us at everyday low prices.

Before I come back to them, I want to mention the customers. You may wholly or partly not realize it, but, if you are reading this, you are likely sitting or standing (pray not driving) in the Wholly Walton Empire. You won’t actually get to “[m]eet the 6 Walton Heirs at the [t]op of the Walmart [e]mpire,” but it is important to their tight hold on power in the U.S. that you and hundreds of millions of species-beings like you remain alienated and not develop class consciousness of them and moral consciousness of the ends and means of their empire.

Now back to our story …

The Walton family are just regular folk, plus lots of money and power. They are at the pinochle of a homestyle capitalist family built on the illusion of choice. They are mere country vendors.

Other small town folk make the stuff that they vend, which we stuff into our bodies and souls to the limit of our credit and physiological and psychological capacity to intake stuff.

These ultra rich “regular folk” use slick mercenary politicians from both U.S. ruling parties to carry out their policies in exchange for chump change and neoliberal-circumscribed political power implemented through the kabuki theatre of “aw shucks, pass me them taters” known as U.S. “democracy.” A broad spectrum of “regular folk,” sometimes already wealthy but usually not “ultra rich,” compete within this mercenary class. Enter folks like Jeb (make no mistake, Jeb does not come to Arkansas because he cares about education)

and “our” very own HRC.

Now what in tarnation does this have to do with Japan?

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Need to Support Walmart Workers’ #Ride4Respect by JayRaye

forrespect

#Ride4Respect

Right now as you read this, Walmart Workers are on buses and they are caravanning from various cities to Bentonville, Arkansas where Walmart will be holding its annual shareholders meeting on June 7th. They plan to make their presence known by urging Walmart to stop its retaliation against associates who dare to speak out about working conditions. The #Ride4Respect uses the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement for inspiration. Completely appropriate, in my book. The fight for our rights as workers is a struggle for civil and human rights. Workers are American Citizens, and we are human beings. We don’t stop being Human Beings and Citizens when we pass through the doors of our place of employment.

One of the rights guaranteed to working people by U.S. Labor Law, is the right to speak out about the conditions of labor, and to do so without retaliation from our employer. That retaliation is illegal! Walmart’s retaliation has not ceased, in spite of denial that it exists, and in spite of promises to stop this retaliation (which they deny exists!) This is where the Unfair Labor Practice Strike comes into the picture. Striking Walmart Workers are a big part of the #Ride4Respect. This strike is historic as it will be the first prolonged ULP strike made by Walmart Workers. They are taking OUR Walmart’s fight for respect to another level.

Lisa Lopez walks and gives notice of ULP strike.

A Woman of Courage has put on her fighting clothes!

Mother Jones would be proud!

Walmart Black Friday Strike

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving. It marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season with grand bargains and the feeding frenzy of consumers to find the best price on the most desirable gifts for the holiday. The term originated in Philadelphia as a description of the crowded stores and heavy traffic the day after Thanksgiving. It later took on the meaning that it was the day retailers begin to turn a profit and are “in the black.”

It has taken on a new meaning for retail workers in the “big box” stores, who are now being forced to work and forgo their Thanksgiving holiday evening because the largest retailers, specifically Walmart, decided to open at 8 PM on Thursday. Most of these retail workers barely make a living wage, the typical employee is paid $22,100 a year, slightly below the federal poverty line for a family of four (which is at $23,050 in 2012). Walmart workers, although not unionized, have banded together to strike the retailer on Black Friday. Here is why:

   – WHY WORKERS ARE STRIKING: Workers – organized by non-union OUR Walmart – are protesting that Walmart continues to pay low wages and cut benefits, even while it is making billions of dollars in profits. The strikes that have occurred are the first in the 50 year history of the company. Workers have demanded “more-predictable schedules, less-expensive health-care plans and minimum hourly pay of $13 with the option of working full-time.” The company is increasing employee contributions towards its health plan in 2013. Walmart made $15 billion last year, and paid its CEO $18.1 million.

   – WALMART’S RESPONSE: The company has claimed that it is “not aware of any major disruptions that are going to happen Black Friday.” However, it has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the protests are being orchestrated by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which Walmart claims is a labor law violation.

   – WHY NOW?: Black Friday is not only one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but Walmart and other large retailers have steadily increased their Black Friday hours to extend into Thanksgiving Day. This year, Walmart’s “Black Friday” starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, so workers will miss Thanksgiving evening with their families. Employees claim “they weren’t given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning.”

The argument that Walmart cannot afford to raise pay and benefits claiming it would hurt their ability to keep prices low has quite a few holes. A study made by Demos show that by increasing wages not only do the workers benefit but so does industry and the economy as a whole:

   A wage standard at large retailers equivalent to $25,000 per year for full-time, year-round workers would increase GDP between $11.8 and $15.2 billion over the next year.

   As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.

   Effects on Retail Sales: Increased purchasing power of low-wage workers would generate $4 to $5 billion in additional annual sales for the sector. Much of the increased consumer spending by low-wage workers after the raise will return to the very firms that offered the raise. The average American household allocates 20 percent of their total expenditures toward retail goods, but for low-income households that proportion is higher. A raise for workers at large stores would bring billions of dollars in added retail spending back to the sector. Our study finds that:

   Assuming that workers do not save money out of their wage income, the additional retail spending by employees and their families generated by the higher wage would result in $4 to $5 billion in additional sales across the retail sector in the year following the wage increase.

The wage increase would hardly effect prices:

   The potential cost to consumers would be just cents more per shopping trip on average. If retail firms were to pass the entire cost on to consumers instead of paying for it by redirecting unproductive profits, shoppers would see prices increase by only 1 percent. But productivity gains and new consumer spending associated with the raise make it unlikely that stores will need to generate 100 percent of the cost. More plausibly, prices will increase by less than the total amount of the wage bill, spreading smaller costs across the entire population of consumers. The impact of rising prices on household budgets will be negligible, while the economic benefits of higher wages for low paid retail workers will be significant. Our study finds that:

   If retailers pass half of the costs of a wage raise onto their customers, the average household would pay just 15 cents more per shopping trip-or $17.73 per year.

   If firms pass on 25 percent of the wage costs onto their customers, shoppers would spend just 7 cents more per shopping trip, or $8.87 per year.

   Higher income households, who spend more, would absorb a larger share of the cost. Per shopping trip, high income households would spend 18 cents more, for a total of $36.80 per year. Low-income households would spend just 12 additional cents on their shopping list, or $24.87 per year.

As David Dayen noted reporting this at FDL News:

I would personally rather pay 15 cents more per shopping trip rather than pay the costs of a working individual who nevertheless has to go onto Medicaid or collect food stamps. What’s more, as a result of the economic boost from higher wages, I would probably make more money myself, so this would all come out in the wash. Prosperity for retail workers would really mean more prosperity for all.

Up with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes discussed the Black Friday strike by Walmart employees with guests Greg Fletcher, a Walmart associate in Duarte, CA; Heather McGhee, vice president of Demos; Raymond Castillo, a member of Warehouse Workers United; and David frum, CNN contributer.

My Little Town 20120523: My Dad the Salesman

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Dad was a born salesman.  He could sell anything to anyone just about.  It took him some time to find that calling.  Before sales he pumped gasoline, worked odd jobs, trained as a jewellery designer and maker, and even tried farming.  He hated farming.

But it was sales that Dad was the very best.  Different people have different talents for different things.  I did some direct sales at summer jobs at a paint store and at a small engine repair shop and lawnmower store, but in those jobs the customers came to you.  Dad went to the customers.

Internationally Trans

I figure international news includes the United States.  There’s a pretty even split between stories from other countries and national stories, presented so the public might know a little better what’s happening of interest to people in the trans community.

Poland

Anna Grodzka, 57, became the first ever Polish lawmaker to have had sex reassignment…which makes her the only current transsexual national legislator on the planet.  Spain’s Carla Antonelli is transgender, but has not had sex reassignment surgery.

Grodzka runs Trans-Fuzja (website is in Polish), a foundation which supports Poland’s transpeople and says she decided to run in order to promote the work of the foundation.  She won 19,451 in the Krakow II electoral district, making her the top vote-getter for Palikot’s Movement in that district and thereby winning one of the 460 seats in Poland’s lower house, the Sejm.

The world’s first transsexual MP was Georgina Beyer of New Zealand’s Labour Party, from 1999 until she resigned her seat in 2007.

Today, Poland is changing. I am the proof along with Robert Biedron, a homosexual and the head of an anti-homophobia campaign who ran for office in Gdynia.

–Anna Grodzka

Grodzka says that the time has come for sexual minorities to enjoy equal rights in Poland.

Enough of this concealing of the truth.  This group of people, even if small, has its rights and they should be respected. They should not be pushed into oblivion.

On her to-do list are legal partnerships, job security, and state funding of sex change procedures.

Assange is a High-Level AQ Operator

So I made the mistake of going into a Walmart today. First off, I ask God for special dispensation when I go through the doors. Let’s face it, the company is built on slave labor. Shopping there is morally abhorrent. The conditions of its Chinese laborers alone is a sufficient abuse of human rights to have the whole fucking Walton family and their heirs imprisoned for life. Then there’s the abuse of American Walmart employees who are paid so little that they can’t afford the cheap crap they sell. They don’t get health care. They’re taught how to sign up for Medicare. Food stamps. Fuel assistance.

Anyway, it was on the way home, it was late and the only food store open. As I’m parking my car I’m noticing all the security cameras – light poles, on the building, going through the door, in the store in each aisle. I had enough cameras on me to produce a 3D documentary of one man’s quick stop to get some late dinner fixings.

Being the techie I am I wander to the back of the store to check geek and LCD prices. There at the back of the store is a wall of screens with the same loop running over and over…


The Department of Homeland Security this week stepped up its “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, but you won’t be seeing more ads in New York City subway cars. No, the public service announcements will be featured in a far different location: Walmart.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano recorded a video clip that will be looped over and over again at a total of 588 Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

“Homeland security begins with hometown security,” Napolitano says in the clip. “That’s why I’m pleased Walmart is helping to make our communities more safe and secure. If you see something suspicious in the parking lot or in the store, say something immediately.”

I stood there in shock and awe. As in “Awe, fuck!”

12 Hump Day Headlines: Hey Chi Town, are You Fired Up ? He’s Ready to Go!

Wednesday, Sept 22, 2010  Headlines, we have headlines….

1. Rahm Emanuel Could Leave White House In October.

I’ve always wanted to type this, and now I can:



Anonymous White House Aide says Anonymous White House Aide might be leaving the White House.


If he chooses to go forward with the mayoral race, Emanuel intends to be sensitive to the fact that his dual role could create the appearance of using his government office to his personal advantage, say two people familiar with internal deliberations.

__

The aide says Emanuel will not make a decision about whether or not to run this week, but was otherwise vague about when the decision would be made – or exactly when he might step down.

2.  Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council, to Leave White House After Election

Again, the 3 anonymous Horsemen of the Impending Electionypse were quoted:


…. according to three people familiar with the matter.

His departure would leave Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as the only member of President Barack Obama’s original top-tier economic team. Summers, 55, and the president have discussed his future plans, according to one person.

Administration officials are weighing whether to put a prominent corporate executive in the NEC director’s job to counter criticism that the administration is anti-business, one person familiar with White House discussions said. White House aides are also eager to name a woman to serve in a high-level position, two people said. They also are concerned about finding someone with Summers’ experience and stature, one person said.

Dear White House.  

About that token genderism thing.

We are not fooled by how the present is wrapped if we’re still finding it still doesn’t fit.  

So that’s Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, Larry Summers, and perhaps Rrrrahmbo Anonymous gone.  That leaves Timmy Geithner.  Who now has to look at Elizabeth Warren.  

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Last Edition

Crossposted at Daily Kos.  Look in the Comments Section of Daily Kos for more cartoons on the economy and sports.  Somehow, I couldn’t fit them in the main text of the diary.

THE WEEK IN EDITORIAL CARTOONS

This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Glenn Beck’s Fear and Paranoia



Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com

Celebrate the new Madison Avenue pseudo-holiday: VALKYRIE FRIDAY!

Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Valkyrie Friday (well, this year it’s Friday) is the day after Christmas! The shopping mall battlefields are strewn with the dead and wounded misfit toys that didn’t make the cut while the wild-eyed mobs ran through the aisles like the bulls at Pamplona. Fly, fly, my sisters and brothers, and rescue the heroic offerings presented to you by a desperate consumer kingdom as is your sacred duty!

While those who have fulfilled their glassy-eyed Christian obligation to obtain material goods by a certain morning rest at home, replete with sated consumerism and shaking the blood of WalMart employees from their shoes (PAAAA-RAIZZZE JEEZUS!), those of us who have resisted the multi-limnal marketing bombardment of the previous weeks for whatever reason now have our chance.

Everything is half price! Some stuff is less than half price! This is all the STUFFFFFFF!!!!! that didn’t move, and now it can be YOURS!!!!! Can I get a “HOI KRIEGER!” everybody! Heed the wise post-9/11 words of Der FucktardFuhrer and GO SHOPPING!

Local First This Holiday Season

It’s ironic that WalMart has become an iconic symbol of the very same small towns that they’ve destroyed.  Main Street sits, rotting if even in a beautiful way, as a vacant reminder of the not-too-distant past when we built walkable communities that worked.  Places worth caring about, aesthetically pleasing mixed-use human scale neighborhoods that grew organically over time as the need arised.  Buildings designed and built by real people, kept up with pride by the business owners who lived in an apartment on top of the store itself, or in a house a few blocks away.  One with a long porch, on a street with sidewalks…so they could greet their neighbors as they walked by on a Sunday morning.

I’m not gonna think that I can influence the shopping habits of America with one blog post, but I am going to ask you the favor of at least considering what I have to say.  If you’re gonna shop tomorrow, at least consider our neighbors and our neighborhoods.  America is in the late stages of a serious disease, but fortunately there’s a cure…