American Consumers Say No to Walmart!

Given the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, you may not have heard that Walmart has been losing money. Walmart reported a two percent drop in revenue in the fourth quarter, continuing a steady downward spiral for their sales in the United States.

This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time.

I like a bargain as much as the next person. It’s fun to find good deals, to spend less and get more. But I don’t shop at Walmart because it is truly one of the worst companies on the planet.

Every time you “save” money by buying something cheap at Walmart, you contribute to human and environmental suffering in America and around the world.

I could write a book about Walmart’s nefarious business practices. But several people already have, including Al Norman, a community activist and friend who lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts, who has written both Slam-Dunking Walmart and The Case Against Walmart, and Bill Quinn, who’s book is called How Walmart is Destroying America (and the World).

Instead, I’ll just give you some highlights on why Walmart is a terrible company:

1) Walmart does everything it can to avoid paying employees a fair wage and benefits. Since employees make so little at Walmart they are often forced to go on food stamps. Walmart is glad to help them and at one point had instructions on how to apply for government assistance on its own letterhead. For a first-hand account of just how awful it can be to work at Walmart, read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

2) Walmart moves into a town, puts every other small retailer out of business, and then will routinely close the store that it built in order to force people to drive to a different store, 30 or 40 miles away. When mom and pop shops go under employees at Walmart’s corporate headquarters celebrate by eating cake.

3) Walmart takes government handouts in a variety of ways. A conservative company, they are glad to accept corporate welfare. Many cities pay for the retailer’s water and sewer bills, for example.

4) The cheap goods that Walmart sells are often made overseas in terrible working conditions. When I was working in human rights, I saw footage of Chinese workers who were locked into dormitories at night, of Indian workers living in unimaginable poverty and misery, and of 12- and 13-year-old girls in Bangladesh sewing “Made in America” tags on goods to be sold at Walmart.

There was a time before Walmart, and there will be a time when Walmart doesn’t exist. The world will be a happier and more prosperous place when Walmart goes out of business for good.

You can help! You already are! All you have to do is stop shopping at Walmart.

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on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 am and is filed under social change.
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