The secret of Wal-Mart's success

News & Politics

Here's a sad reminder from Oakland of the reason why Wal-Mart continues to thrive:

"I needed a job ASAP, and they had their doors open," said Virginia Ford, 19, of Oakland, who had applied for 25 jobs in three months before she landed one as a cashier at Wal-Mart in Oakland on Tuesday. ...
The Bay Area also has lost hundreds of jobs to outsourcing and offshoring, compounded by all the jobs that never came back after the local economy collapsed.
"It's not about Wal-Mart -- it's about the rest of the labor market," Levy said. "If the rest of the labor market was strong, you wouldn't have 11, 000 people applying for 400 jobs." ...
"It's simply a comment on how many people are willing to apply for that kind of job now," Levy said of the surge of applications at Wal-Mart. [LINK]
It doesn't matter how much pressure activists put on the retail chain, as long as people are unemployed and desperate, its business model will be difficult to challenge. An effective strategy to prevent the Wal-Mart-ization of America has to include a larger vision of economic prosperity in a globalized world -- the kind that will offer Virginia Ford the opportunity to not just earn a living wage, but work towards creating real financial security. In other words, we as a nation need to make significant and targeted investments in new technologies, industries, education, and job training. Otherwise, we might as well be tilting at windmills.

On a more heartening note, it's good to know that Wal-Mart does offer its employees the benefit of cheerleader training: "(W)orkers gathered together for daily meeting filled with motivational speeches and a Wal-Mart cheer, which involves a few loud hoots and a wiggle." Who needs health insurance anyway.

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