Bob's Links and Rants

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Friday, December 19, 2003

There's an ad on TV now which shows a seventh-grade class deciding to help a needy family for Christmas. They raise money through odd jobs and bake sales and such, and then they go and buy presents--at Wal-Mart. The same Wal-Mart that has done so much to increase poverty in this country. Heck, the mother of the needy family may actually WORK at Wal-Mart! Or maybe she lost her job at the textile mill because Wal-Mart buys mostly from China.

So Wal-Mart is using the good intentions of school kids to promote their vile brand of commerce. They're also promoting the insidious notion that there's nothing sadder than Christmas without crappy presents. Why not just give the money to the mother and let her pay the rent or buy the food her family really needs?

Bah humbug.

(Warning: Half-formed thought follows)

I'm thinking about Wal-Mart, and about Henry Ford. Henry Ford was an interesting individual, a bizarre collection of great and terrible ideas. He was an innovator, an anti-Semite, a pacifist, a failure, and an amazing success. And while in his later years, during the 1930's, he was vehemently anti-union, he also had some interesting ideas in the labor field. One for which he is best known is the $5 work day, which I believe he introduced around 1914. This was a substantially higher wage than most laborers could get at the time. Ford's reasoning was that his workers had to be paid enough to be able to buy his cars. I'm not sure that the logic was really sound, but it was an interesting concept.

What strikes me now is that Wal-Mart takes the opposite approach. By keeping wages low, they make it so that the only place people can afford to shop is Wal-Mart.