All Hail Wal-Mart!

The left’s obsessional hatred of Wal-Mart seems to be picking up steam. Now, there’s even a liberal anti-Wal-Mart documentary / political propaganda piece taking shots at Sam Walton’s baby:

“A documentary on the perils of runaway capitalism that spotlights Wal-Mart screened at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, and interest among European distributors and television networks has been strong.

The feature-length documentary focuses on working conditions at the U.S. retail giant and argues that the company treats its employees shabbily in pursuit of maximum profit.

“Wal-Mart is the poster child for the worst in corporate behavior,” U.S. director Robert Greenwald said in an interview after his film, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”, screened to a large and appreciative audience.

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“But it is not only Wal-Mart, it is these issues that affect all of us all around the world.”

…Greenwald’s film, which has sold 110,000 DVDs since November and been shown in a limited theatrical release in the United States, was quickly snapped up by distributors in Britain, Germany and Australia.

The film, which Greenwald partly financed, portrays Wal-Mart Stores Inc as a monster that destroys the fabric of small towns by killing off small business with discount prices, and as a firm paying poverty-level wages without adequate health cover.

Greenwald, who said he tried unsuccessfully to interview Wal-Mart executives for his documentary, shows how Wal-Mart moved into two small towns in Ohio and Missouri, among other places, and how family-owned stores folded after its arrival.

“Wal-Mart is on a rampage across America but no one is doing anything about it,” says hardware store worker John Faenza in the film. Greenwald reports that wages and property values fell when Wal-Mart came to town.”

I lived in a small town, Stoneville, population 1000 — Yee-Ha — from roughly age 7-18 and my first job after college was in a Wal-Mart portrait studio (which interestingly enough, wasn’t owned by Wal-Mart), so I can tell you a few things about this issue from personal experience.

First of all, everyone cries for these small mom and pop businesses that Wal-Mart is running into the ground. As someone who has had to shop at these local mom & pop stores before, let me tell you, they stink. They’re extremely expensive, the selection is very limited, and even if the service is good, it’s because they’re only about the size of your living room and the person running the store can’t get away from you.

But, what do people say when Wal-Mart moves into an area and puts them out of business? “Oh, what about poor Joe the grocer who’s going out of business after 40 years?” Everybody feels sorry for Joe. Nobody ever thinks about Joe’s 1000 customers who save $20 a week by going to Wal-Mart. How come what they want isn’t considered?

Oh, I forgot — it is being considered. You see, unions are the ones fighting the hardest against Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart doesn’t want any part of them and no company unfortunate enough to have a unionized work force can compete with Wal-Mart.

Moreover, all these complaints about Wal-Mart’s health care are complete bunk. If you compare apples to apples and look at other companies in the same field, Wal-Mart does offer a competitive health care plan. From Rich Lowry:

“And Wal-Mart offers health insurance to full-time and part-time employees, which is rare in retail. Eighty-six percent of Wal-Mart employees have health insurance; 48 percent through Wal-Mart’s plan.

Although The High Cost attacks Wal-Mart as a welfare queen, only about 5 percent of Wal-Mart employees are on Medicaid, the same proportion as other retailers.”

Here’s more from Wal-Mart themselves:

“Our health care plan insures full-time and part-time associates once eligible. Wal-Mart provides insurance to more than 1 million people and offers up to 18 different plans. Coverage is available for as little as $11 per month for individuals and 30 cents per day for children – no matter how many children an associate has.

Unlike many plans, after the first year, the Wal-Mart medical plan has no lifetime maximum for most expenses, protecting our associates against catastrophic loss and financial ruin.”

Does $11 a month sound unreasonable? Is 30 cents per day for kids too high? No. Especially since no business in America is under any obligation whatsoever to provide health care. None. Nor should they be.

Here’s the unvarnished truth: No one is forced to work at Wal-Mart, the company does offer health care, and if they run third rate local businesses into the ground, well, that’s progress. I’m sure the buggy whip manufacturers weren’t too thrilled with Henry Ford either.

To sum it all up, Wal-Mart is a fantastic company that saves American consumers enormous sums of money by providing quality products at cheap prices and they deserve to be supported against left-wing smear jobs.

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