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It Is Going to Be a Wal-Mart Christmas

Wal-Mart is the only store where hard-squeezed consumers can afford anything, and so it keeps posting big profits amid the retail bloodbath.

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In June, the National Labor Relations Board found that Wal-Mart illegally fired an employee for union organizing, and determined that the company had illegally threatened employees with a loss of merit pay during a unionization drive.

The company that is now the biggest private-sector employer says the average hourly wage of its workers is $10.86. Wal-Mart has said it considers a 34-hour week as full time, though it declined to respond to my questions about this and other employment issues. Assuming the full-time week is 34 hours, a full-time Wal-Mart "associate" averages $19,200 a year. That's about $2,000 below the 2008 federal poverty level for a family of four.

So, it is going to be a Wal-Mart Christmas. Because we have become a Wal-Mart country, and we are all laid low.

(c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group



Marie Cocco is a prize-winning syndicated columnist on political and cultural topics for The Washington Post Writers Group. She is a frequent commentator on national TV and radio shows.

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