Walmart is the poster child for how huge corporations have undermined people’s ability to make a living. It does this by sending manufacturing abroad to countries where labor is cheap, at the same time paying its own employees less than a living wage, using other unfair labor practices in numerous locations in the United States, and undercutting locally owned enterprises right out of business.
Why I Avoid Walmart
I have given WalMart a wide berth for many years. I can still see the face of the lady who greeted me at a Michigan Walmart. She was neat as a pin, and greeted me with a sweet smile. Still, I could see she was exhausted and broken-spirited. There could be many reasons for that, but my intuition suggested I never shop Walmart again – for her sake, and for workers like her.
Other retailers may not be much better, but Walmart has set the standard for low wages. In any case, I prefer paying a little more and buying a little less – somewhere else.
I make this small sacrifice by choice. But honestly, I can understand why people with larger households choose to shop at Walmart. They believe they are saving a significant amount of money. Sadly, that is only true in the short run.
Adverse Effect on the Economy
Walmart’s business practices have an overall adverse effect on the U.S. economy. What people may save at the cash register, they pay out in other ways.
- Stagnant, low wages give Walmart employees less buying-power every year; that’s rough on them, and it’s also rough on the businesses who lose sales from these workers. Stagnant wages contribute to a downward economy.
- When low-wage earnings stagnate, middle-wage earnings stagnate, too. Thus, the “disappearing middle-class” phenomena. As inflation marches on, everybody earning stagnate wages is getting poorer!
- Too many Walmart employees are forced to draw on government social services, paid for with tax dollars.
- Walmart undercuts their competition, often driving them out of business.
But that is not all.
- Walmart is a huge supporter (again, leading the way) of sweat shops around the globe. In this way, Walmart contributes to untold and unnecessary worldwide misery.
We Are All in this Together
We are all part of the economy, whether you look at it from an American or global perspective. We are in this together, and we must stand together.
First, we need to understand that workers do not merely deserve more pay. Rather, we need to fully comprehend that workers have already earned more… than they receive in wages. A greater percent of workers’ earnings go into the corporate profit pot each year. Thus, you have the “inflated corporate profits” phenomena.
Second, we can plot and plan to make wise shopping choices. Make it a game. It’s fun to nab genuine bargains, and great sport to outwit greedy corporate bullies.
Ways to Save Money & Support the Economy
I have a few cunning ideas for saving money and supporting my local economy at the same time. I’m sure you have some inspired tactics, too (please share them in the comments).
- Buy jeans and t-shirts at second-hand shops, like The Salvation Army; you can find designer quality, and they’re pre-washed!
- Buy your good clothes from small local shops; they’re much more unique.
- Buy Made-in-America products whenever possible; if you can’t, go online to see what companies implement fair labor practices overseas (currently, Apple is the only technical company that does).
- Cancel your cable service; have the family read the classics aloud; gather around the radio to listen to NPR while knitting or doing other crafts.
- Quality time spent together
- Learning and creating
- Tried and true stress-busting
- Support your public library; borrow books, music, and DVDs; attend classes and book clubs; take the kids.
- Start a small garden, even if it’s on the patio or window sill; your friends will love it when you give them fresh herbs and veggies!
- Stop buying snacks; eat baked potatoes when you get a chip attack; eat bread and jam when you feel like a sweet; you’ll save so much money you may splurge on real butter AND you won’t have to shop at Walmart!
- Pack your lunch; a hunk of cheese, handful of walnuts, and an apple is all you need.
- Much healthier and cheaper than fast-food
- No after-lunch-fog
- Fast to assemble; take enough for a few days; leave in the fridge at work
- Likewise, eat a high protein breakfast at home; hard-boiled egg, Rye Crisp, juice, and tea or coffee.
- It’s economical, healthy, and you’ll lose weight
- Breakfast keeps your spirits and creativity high
- Research online to find out fair rates, then buy local.
- Buy produce from your local farmers’ market; apples and honey from local orchards; etc.
- Bank with a local credit union or bank (avoid large financial institutions that invest largely outside your community).
- Enjoy a stay-cation; visit restaurants and tourist attractions in your own community (you know you’ve been meaning to!).
- And, finally, figure out some things you can do without! Over-consumption is wasteful and bad for the environment.