Only Terrorists Support a Living Wage: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Wal-Mart
My friends at Wake-Up Wal-Mart and I have seen something remarkable:
In what we might presume to be the most bone-headed, most egregious iteration yet of the right-wing media's effort to convince us all itself that Wal-Mart = America, and that those who fault the company are in fact terrist sympathizers who no doubt also hate baseball and apple pie, this weekend the New York Post provided us with a nearly three thousand-word manifesto on Wal-Mart's unassailable decency, penned by intrepid regurgitator Charles Platt.
But surely I'm being hyperbolic here! I mean, we have differences of opinion in this country, but it's not like anyone's comparing workers' rights advocates to the Taliban. Right?
Yet still the company is rebuked and reviled by anyone claiming a social conscience, and is lambasted by legislators as if its bad behavior places it somewhere between investment bankers and the Taliban.
Uh, okay. So rather than positing an exact comparison, he's actually invoking the Taliban as something that other people invoke, as an indication of their irrational thought processes-- a sort of inverted strawman argument. Let's consider a couple more turns of phrase from the master's down-and-out-in-Flagstaff experience, slumming through a period of employment with America's largest retailer.
Regarding his impression of the Wal-Mart employee temperament:
Anytime I shopped at the store, blue-clad Walmartians encouraged me to "Have a nice day" with the sincerity of the pope issuing a benediction.
Regarding the Wal-Mart manager who trained him:
In fact she projected the feel-good sincerity of a Baptist running a bake sale.
So we see a pattern: the guy just enjoys religious imagery. And paint-by-numbers metaphor-making. But why should that affect our appreciation of his steel-trap logic? Well.
Regarding Wal-Mart's hiring process:
The personnel manager told me she had received more than 100 applications during that month alone.
. . . .
A diabolically ingenious quiz probed for my slightest hesitation or uncertainty regarding four big no-nos of retailing: theft, insubordination, poor timekeeping and substance abuse.
Thus establishing that there are more people applying than there are getting hired, and that Wal-Mart is weeding out those unlikely to fall into step with its program.
Regarding Platt's estimation of the applicants against whom he was competing for a job:
A future at Wal-Mart may sound a less-than-stellar prospect, but it's a whole lot better than no future at all.
Thus establishing that the vast pool of his fellow applicants primarily comprises people with no place left to go.
Regarding Wal-Mart's infamous health options:
Still, my fellow trainees assured me that health plans at other retail chains were even worse...
--and its payment plan:
Coworkers assured me that the nearest Target paid its hourly full-timers less than Wal-Mart, while fast-food franchises were at the bottom of everyone's list.
Thus establishing that, of those with no place left to go who are deemed likely by Wal-Mart's selection process to be psychologically inclined to go along with Wal-Mart's program, as far as any of those folks are aware and willing to share with a fellow trainee they've just met during the training process, Wal-Mart's payment and benefits packages are totally superior to those available at any of those other jobs they can't get in the current economy, especially those other (unionized) jobs which, were the trainee to be heard discussing during the training process, would render that trainee psychologically unsuited for work at Wal-Mart.
Unpaid overtime? Maybe it happened at some stores in the past, but an instructional video warned me that if anyone in management ever encouraged such a heinous transgression, I should report him to his superiors immediately.
Thus establishing that those 63 separate cases in 42 separate states are actually mere figments of the fevered imaginations of America-haters, because if the company would go so far out of its way as to inform an entry-level trainee that managers aren't supposed to do that which managers are actually trained to do during the management training process, well, LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
Despite (or because of) a free public school system, millions of teenagers enter the work force without marketable skills. So why would anyone expect them to be well paid?
You see? It's because we insist on educating our youth that we have so many people unworthy of being paid for the work that sustains our beloved über-corporation.
I think that many of the "mom-and-pop" stores so beloved by activists don't deserve to remain in business.
You tell 'em! Those local, community-sustaining businesses never got the memo about people not deserving to get paid!
Wal-Mart is not the enemy. It's the best friend we could ask for.
Uh-huh. Survival kit contents check.