Home > Wal-Mart > Walmart Blacklisted By Major Pension Fund Over Poor Labor Practices

Walmart Blacklisted By Major Pension Fund Over Poor Labor Practices

Via Huffington Post:

A major pension fund and longtime investor in Walmart has blacklisted the retailing behemoth, citing poor labor practices and the company’s anti-union stance as the driving force behind its rejection.

Walmart typically shrugs off criticism of its labor practices as union-driven propaganda and insists that its employees are happy and well-managed, but investing experts say that when one of the largest pension funds in the world divests, the company would be wise to listen to the message. It’s the same message the American labor movement has been pushing for decades.

On Tuesday, the Netherlands’ biggest pension fund, Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds, with more than $300 billion in assets, announced that it was blacklisting the largest retailer in the world for noncompliance with the United Nations’ Global Compact principles. The Global Compact presents a set of core values relating to human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption efforts. Sixteen other companies were blacklisted along with Walmart, nearly all of them excluded for producing chemical or nuclear weapons that violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

More.

  1. SNaFU
    January 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Don’t like WalMart?
    Wanna boycott ‘um? >>
    Don’t go to work there & don’t shop there.
    End of problem.
    Home Depot is next on the menu.

  2. January 6, 2012 at 8:29 am

    God bless the Dutch.
    Hey Tra and the rest of the Fake Dunies, go try to pull their fore dunes.
    They know how to treat both their land and their people.
    They would throw you in jail so fast your head would still be spinning.

  3. Mitch
    January 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

    This is really good news; perhaps it will shame American labor’s huge pension funds into action. The Netherlands and Scandinavia seem to be some of the last places where “American values” still flourish.

  4. High Finance
    January 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

    If my pension funds were in Algemeen I would be stomping mad furious.

    Pension funds are supposed to maximize their investors pensions and not play politics.

  5. Mitch
    January 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

    You’re right on schedule. I’d be sure no one was dumb enough to comment as frequently as you do without getting paid, but then… doh!

  6. January 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Money, money, money, money.
    Corporations are people.
    Money is free speech.
    HiFI wants more more more

    Traitor- intellectually and economically.
    No wonder we are sinking.

  7. Mitch
    January 6, 2012 at 9:13 am

    In case it’s not obvious, one of the fatal flaws of modern corporate capitalism is that it splits decisions about the “best” use of capital away from the values of the investor. “Best” is defined very narrowly as “best risk/reward ratio,” where external risk is not taken into consideration, because it doesn’t enter into the stock price.

    Child labor bad? Not if it’s in a country where you won’t get sued for it!

    Destruction of the environment bad? Better do something — hire a few more lobbyists!

    These are the principles by which we’ve all seen the American labor movement capitalize its own destruction.

  8. January 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

    and you all are suprised by this?

  9. January 6, 2012 at 9:34 am

    and you all are surprised by this?

  10. Anonymous
    January 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    What a fantasy, (but who am I to say impossible) that maybe a few more of the right people can squeeze into a few more of the right positions to make a few more small differences, such as this.

    Everybody who takes in over $100k annually is scared shitless. It has nothing to do with how they get the money. The more money they make, the more frightened they are. When the money disappears, it never comes back. Everybody’s 100% expendable in somebody else’s money pyramid.

  11. Anonymous
    January 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Walmart is a losing proposition to begin with, they only bring financial benefit to a handful of their uppermost investors. A constand shuffle of everybody below rank, increasing workloads and decreasing compensation. How is it a surprise that other millionaires aren’t throwing money at them anymore? Over 90% of their merchandise is outsourced to sweatshops, and the quality of the food they carry is as meager as the law allows.

    Walmart knows they are the bottom of the retail barrel. They created a viral megahit with their “people of walmart” web campaign, but as time goes on the old saying rings true “you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people.”

  12. January 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    it should say low wages, No Morals!

  13. January 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    “The perception used to be that socially responsible investors were hippies,” Edmans said. “But they aren’t tree-huggers. They are active money managers with lots of money.” Who happen to have realized that treating employees right is good for business. Something Walmart doesn’t get now and probably never will.

  14. walt
    January 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Just curious, Hi-Fi: if it was found that your retirement fund invested in meth production and sales, would that be OK, too?

  15. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Give it up HH ! Your obsession with WalMart (and Arkley)is not attractive

  16. Decline To State
    January 7, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Our conservative brothers and sisters here really need to step up their game on this thread. Hi-Fi’s insistence that pension fund investors should be only about making money (I thought the allusion to selling meth was right on Walt) and Anonymous @ 12:02 suggesting that we should give up our ideals, values and morals because they are

    not attractive

    are really beneath the usual level of discourse I’ve come to expect here on the Herald.

    Come on guys, challenge me with arguments a bit more reasonable and give me a reason to think would ya?

  17. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 7:25 am

    How does this hurt Walmart?

  18. Mitch
    January 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

    713,

    That’s really an excellent question. Given that there will still be plenty of pension funds and others willing to buy Walmart stock, it probably doesn’t have any immediate or medium-term effect on the corporation.

    But someone always needs to be first. In a society that even gives lip service to values like human rights, it eventually becomes embarrassing to be invested in a pariah. This fund’s action publicizes some conflicts between Walmart and European human rights standards; it also demonstrates that at least one fund feels it is necessary to take action based on this conflict.

    The publicity may also cause others to think twice before shopping at Walmart; anything that has an impact on consumer choice will have an eventual impact on stock price. If the stock price begins declining due to an increasingly poor reputation, top management is eventually confronted by the board of directors, at least in theory.

    Money is such a bizarre entity — “work” is always a reflection of some individuals abilities, interest, and values. Then, in modern society, it gets exchanged for this neutral thing called money that has no history and no values.

    Most of us, most of the time, act as if it doesn’t matter how a person came to get money — all that matters is that they have it, and can exchange it with us in return for something we can provide.

    That has many real advantages for a society — if you are black and have money, your money can be just as good as a white person’s money. But it also has real disadvantages: money washes away the human history behind it. Once someone has it, someone who wants it no longer needs to think about whether the other participant in the exchange came by their money by mugging someone or by inventing a vaccine. Strange thing.

  19. Dave Kirby
    January 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Its not just Wal-Mart we need to be concerned with. Down here in So Hum we have Rays and Shop Smart markets. Both run by C&K out of Brookings. Their prices are outrageous and they treat their employees like sh@t. Then up north you’ve got outfits like CVS and Walgreens. Other than a few loss leaders their prices are predatory. By the way the company that made its fortune by moving into small markets…undercutting existing locals until they closed and then raising their prices when they had no competition is Safeway. Take a tour of rural CA and see.

  20. High Finance
    January 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Meth dealing is illegal and kills people. WalMart is perfectly legal and helps poor people by bringing lower prices. Comparing the two is silly Walt.

    I want my retirement fund managers to invest where the rate of return is highest and NOT to invest in PC nonsense.

    It is a different world today. The days when the small local grocery store with Stan the butcher cutting the meat to your order while Sally waited on you behind the counter and Sammy the delivery boy delivered your groceries to your home is gone.

    You may look back on it fondly but you have forgotten that the selection was limited, prices were higher and they had limited hours. It is impersonal now but the advantages are there.

    Besides, it is here whether you want it or not. Also gone are ice boxes, the ice cream trucks playing songs through our streets, Howdy Doody and playing cards slapping on our bicycle wheels.

    Live with it or you’ll start muttering to yourself like our grandparents did decades ago longing for the days of horse & buggies complaining about the dag napped cars.

  21. WhatNow
    January 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

    “Besides, it is here whether you want it or not”

    The same was said about:

    The bubonic plague
    The Caliphate in Spain
    Herod
    Vichey France
    Polio
    The Soviet Union
    American Armed Foces in Viet Nam

  22. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Seconded, re: dave kirby.

  23. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Mitch, I would say it doesn’t hurt them at all, probably won’t even hurt the shareholders as it is around .05% of the value of the company. I don’t even think if everybody sold all their Walmart stock it would hurt the company because once the company sells their initial public offering, they don’t get any more money out of the stock unless they hold treasury shares or sell additional shares.

    The only way I could see anything like this doing anything would be if they drove the price down so low somebody could take over the company and replace the board. That would take most of the current shareholders to try and sell their shares and not find any buyers – and them being able to stomach billions in stock losses for their clients.

    Good for them if they don’t want their money at Walmart, but I’m with Hi Fi – my investments are for making money. Donations are for feeling good.

  24. January 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Dave Kirby says:
    January 7, 2012 at 8:15 am
    Its not just Wal-Mart we need to be concerned with. Down here in So Hum we have Rays and Shop Smart markets. Both run by C&K out of Brookings.

    Grocery workers in California have an excellent opportunity to ORGANIZE.
    50% plus one worker will get the Retail Clerks AFL-CIO
    at your door.
    Teamsters will not cross Retail Clerks- workers can make this happen. Do it.
    Should have been done long ago..

  25. Mitch
    January 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    713,

    There are ways to invest without completely denying your values, at least in my opinion.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t intentionally hire a child laborer personally. If you intentionally invest directly in Walmart, you are just letting someone else hire the child to earn you money. It’s less clear if you invest in a fund that buys Walmart, but there are funds specifically for people who don’t want to own what they consider “evil” companies.

    The argument that post-offering share price doesn’t matter to a company is, well, interesting. That must be why no corporate managers worry about the share price. Right?

  26. Apologist Not
    January 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    “Pension funds are supposed to maximize their investors pensions and not play politics”.

    I have to agree with “High Finance” on this one.

    Only a fool would invest massive public funds in a guaranteed, unsustainable failure.

    Imperialist economies are not sustainable and every one of them has historically entered a high-risk period of decline. How they treat their own citizens is an early indicator of eminent collapse.

    Rest assured, Walmart and the the Dow Jones will be whistling Dixie right up until the last second.

  27. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Mitch Google Johnson and Johnson credo…

  28. Mitch
    January 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    713,

    It’s a great credo.

    http://www.jnj.com/wps/wcm/connect/c7933f004f5563df9e22be1bb31559c7/jnj_ourcredo_english_us_8.5x11_cmyk.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

    I know zilch about J&J, but I’ll assume you cite it because you feel the company puts their words into action.

    Do you think Walmart stands by the same values?

    Do you think the typical corporate manager from the Fortune 500 could honestly say the J&J credo applied to their company and to their actions within their company?

  29. Mitch
    January 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    While I’m asking, do you think those are the values of Goldman Sachs, etc…?

    On a different level entirely, what about Coast Central? Are they putting their members first?

  30. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Mitch,
    I was just making the point about share prices. The companies who obsess over share price while ignoring customers and employees are probably not well run. If they run the business well the share price will follow, not the other way around.

    I think Walmart goes for the cheapest, most efficient deal they can because that is what their customers demand. So they are taking care of their customers – otherwise they wouldnt have any. The employee and human rights debate is tiresome because it depends on who you talk to and their circumstances. If you are out of work and have little or no experience, Walmart is probably a good way to get yourself working again. Would I leave my job to go work there? No way, but if I didn’t have a job, I would do any job to support my family. Probably two.

    I think the only reason you hear about Walmart so much is because of their beef with the unions. I don’t see people bitching nearly as much about the “chinese junk” apple or amazon brings in. Costco too, for that matter. I guess it is only the poor people who aren’t supposed to use chinese goods.

  31. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Mitch I don’t like the banksters either. I think many of them are crooks. I don’t know about coast central, I don’t bank there. It is a little ironic to me that people have been advocating credit unions over banks because “b of a” didn’t pay any income taxes – when credit unions never have paid income taxes. Don’t you think that is strange?

  32. Plain Jane
    January 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    There was a carpet manufacturer featured in the documentary “The Corporation” (can’t remember which) with similar beliefs as J&J’s. Corporations don’t have to be predators but their executives are rewarded for being so and their shareholders don’t seem to care about the harm their policies are doing to the country in the short run and their own economic sustainability in the long run. Some people.

    Credit unions are nonprofit so they don’t have any earnings to pay taxes on, 713.

  33. Plain Jane
    January 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    The difference, 713, is that Walmart, being the largest retailer in the world, has the power to force their suppliers into cheaper and cheaper labor markets and all the other retailers selling the same products have no choice but to buy from the same manufacturers that Walmart pushed offshore.

  34. SmokeMonster
    January 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Costco has been selling dog chicken jerky from CHINA that has led to many animals demise, any complaints from Jane? none yet

  35. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Steve Strombeck/ Hi Fi …
    Says it all in his first comment. The only thing that matters is his money and he’s willing to compromise anything for it. It would be like taking donations from businesses that are supposed to be for the church and than selling them..Thats OK to, right Steve? I honestly have never heard one person when they mention Steves name say they like him! Including people who work for him..He doesnt offer a pension program. If you have ever seen how his son acts you could probably guess what kind of conversations are had around his dinner table.

  36. 713
    January 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    PJ what is the difference, it’s all coming from china. You think apple doesn’t have the same juice?

  37. Apologist Not
    January 8, 2012 at 12:25 am

    The U.S. imperial economy has been largely self-censored by the U.S. “free-press” since the end of the Civil War.

    The average American nine year-old would find the working conditions of the world’s children repugnant and would demand their parents to boycott Chinese products…if we told kids the truth.

    While the right-wingers demand that the working-poor count their blessings for employment, (like the slave-owners and commie dictators of the world always do), American families are kept wholly ignorant of the reasonable Tariffs, job training, placement, free universities, and housing programs that were proven long ago to raise the living standards of American families, a fundamental pillar of a nation’s security.

    It cost tens of thousands of dollars for Eureka to hire professional economists that concluded Eureka was saturated in low-wage employment over a decade ago!. Since then, part-time, temporary, low-wage jobs have been the fastest growing category in America, spreading limited social service and welfare subsidies thinner every year.

    It might take 46 million more Americans working full-time in poverty, but the lesson is unchanged: Walmart’s “every day low prices” come at a substantial cost.

  38. Anonymous
    January 8, 2012 at 12:37 am

    With Steve Strombeck on the board of the local Salvation Army, why wasn’t their roof repaired by now?

  39. January 8, 2012 at 7:37 am

    This has always been the plan of the capitalists.
    Ship the manufacturing jobs (with all their pesky unions) overseas where dictatorships guarantee a compliant, low-wage workforce; and steer the American worker into non-union service jobs at minimum wage.
    We will see the return of manufacturing jobs once the American worker is willing to work for starvation wages and has lost all sense of worker’s-rights.
    I can’t believe the brain-washed, “Jew-for-Hitler” anti-union attitude of some folks. it goes sort of like this:
    “How dare you try to improve the quality of life for me or my children? Who do you think you are? I don’t want good wages! I don’t want health-care! I hate job-security! People like you are responsible for America losing “good” jobs!”
    What a bunch of morons. House-slaves taking us all down with them.
    “Civil War ll” coming to a community near you. The only difference is that the “Slavery” involved this time around is economic and cultural as opposed to a purely racist type.

  40. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 7:49 am

    713, Apple products are sold at Walmart too.

    Well said, Moviedad. Modern slavery is much more profitable because they don’t have to buy people, shelter them, keep them healthy or even alive. Now if they could only revoke all the tax payer funded programs which do, they could be forced to work for even less and starve faster. There’s more where they came from.

  41. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 8:10 am

    713,

    “I think Walmart goes for the cheapest, most efficient deal they can because that is what their customers demand. So they are taking care of their customers – otherwise they wouldnt have any.”

    You see, this is the sort of argument that makes that very honorable credo you cited turn out to be worthless. Does “taking care of the customers” allow for moving production to places where a supplier can still get away with child labor and poor working conditions? If so, it becomes a meaningless phrase.

    The nice thing about J&J’s words (and perhaps actions) is that they recognize that there are many values that need to be balanced against one another.

    I’ve never argued that capitalist competition (as opposed to kleptocratic connections) is incapable of lowering prices. It is! It does! But lowering prices is not all that matters. The job is to lower prices without causing greater external harm and without reducing the actual usefulness and longevity of the goods being produced.

    Capitalism as practiced by Walmart is like someone (call him Hi Fi) coming to you and getting your permission to dig for diamonds in your back yard. You give him permission and come back the next day and he’s brought in backhoes, undermined your house, dug under your neighbor’s houses, one of his backhoes has run over the neighbor’s pet, and it’s being driven by a terrified 10 year old being paid $5/day. But the guy found $10,000 worth of diamonds, more even than he’d promised you. You complain to Hi Fi, and he says, “what, didn’t you want the diamonds?”

  42. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Good analogy Mitch.

    There’s an excellent book that’s been available for years, “How Walmart Is Destroying America,” that lists the many tactics they use to force wholesalers offshore and undermine the profitability of those who won’t go. Walmart uses its purchasing power to demand the lowest per unit price possible and then returns unsold items, including those which can’t be resold due to expiration dates and damage from improper storage, and demands full refunds with no price change due to volume actually purchased as opposed to the amount they claimed they would buy (and sell) in contract negotiations. Suppliers can’t afford to refuse to do business with Walmart and they can’t accommodate Walmart’s unethical business practices, pay decent US wages and stay in business. Sick as it is, Walmart profits by driving domestic wages down because it increases the customer base of people who believe they can’t afford to shop elsewhere.

  43. 713
    January 8, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Mitch, you should target the customers then. I don’t think Walmart has the same credo. I think theirs is “low prices, all the time” or something like that. You and maybe half of everybody might want to pay more to have a company live up to your values and morals but the other half either dont give a shit or can’t afford to.

    Pj, all those wholesalers made choices.

  44. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

    713,

    “You and maybe half of everybody might want to pay more to have a company live up to your values and morals but the other half either dont give a shit or can’t afford to.”

    This is an argument that can be made against any law or regulation. I will abbreviate your first 15 words as “YAM…HAC” and your last 13 as “but…”

    YAM…HAC put seat belts in cars, but…

    YAM…HAC be saddled with overtime pay, but…

    YAM…HAC clean up their toxic waste, but…

    etc., etc…

    Societies pass laws and agencies produce regulations despite YAM…HAC. For a couple of generations starting in the 40s, America was able to build up a middle class by doing so. Then came “free trade.” Because our laws and regulations don’t extend beyond our boundaries, the flight of capital will continue until we insist that our laws and values be fully honored by those producing goods we consume.

    That’s simple reality.

    Where fantasy enters in is when such behavior is masked behind “credos” like “put the customer first.” No car company selling products in the United States can “put the customer first” by saving them money on seat belts.

  45. SmokeMonster
    January 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Just went to read a story on the Humboldt Sentinel and before I could view the story a pop up survey ad for WalMart popped up so I could win a $250.00 gift card,Hopefully H can get in on this action as well. I’m sure PJ would love it

  46. Anonymous
    January 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I think we can all see with our economy as a whole that greed doesn’t work. STOP government subsidization of all these big corporations and let them pay for all their employees insurance just like small business does and then lets look at their PL statements. Just another way for big corporations to make big donations to campaigns and politicians to vote the way of their pockets.

  47. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

    PJ,

    Walmart is a symptom. The disease is in our political system.

    Generations ago, the IWW had the right idea — you need a worldwide movement that truly leaves no child behind. What we got instead was trade-based unions like those in the AFL-CIO. The IWW got bashed heads and a bad reputation, the former courtesy of the uniformed enforcers of the time and the latter courtesy of the mainstream media of the time. Sound familiar?

    Today’s unions are far better than nothing, but they are easy to play against one another. As long as the UAW salaries were high, you couldn’t really expect UAW members to spend much time worrying about the fate of some ten year old fellow worker in Malaysia. The local government employee unions worry about wages and have done a good job of raising them, but they don’t seem to care much whether the people County employees are supposed to serve actually get served.

    I think Occupy has the right idea — not specifically occupying public spaces, but insisting that the time has come for these issues to be pushed to the forefront of the discussion, with or without media participation.

    I’d love to see the sort of constitutional change that Move to Amend is pushing, though I think they need to pay more attention to the impracticality of some of their “campaign influence” wording.

    In my particular fantasy world, I would see an additional Constitutional amendment like the following:

    “The human rights enumerated in this Constitution and its amendments belong to all human beings, not solely to American citizens. Trade across the United States boundary must conform itself to these inherent rights. No trade may be allowed with organizations or jurisdictions which violate the human rights of their citizens or employees.”

    People would scream, of course, that it was an attempt to extend US jurisdiction across the world, but it isn’t. It’s merely acknowledging that human rights apply to humans, not just Americans, and that those wishing to conduct trade with the US must honor the “floor” to rights that we expect for ourselves. Other countries with higher floors would face no difficulty in trading.

  48. Apologist Not
    January 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

    713 argues that half the people chose Walmart employment and products because they can’t afford not to. I argue that this is the same sophistry used by slave owners for eons.

    If Americans were informed about the costs of living in an imperialist economy, as often as they are brainwashed by the benefits, they would make better choices, unionize Walmart, and protect their community’s qualities that attract capital investment.

    Had they been informed, they would never have allowed their bay to be surrounded in brownfeilds, subsidize the cleanup, and allow poverty-wage jobs to fill the void.

  49. jr
    January 8, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I concur with Mitch about the Occupy movement. I have never seen such a movement based on egalitarian principals take off so quickly; there are now something like 2500 Occupy movements worldwide. Check out the various web sites and see democracy in action. Besides the “mother ship” (www.occupywallst.org), check out http://www.occupysac.com where the facilitator posts her report of their G.A. meetings in a video, http://www.occupyoakland.org with their G.A. meetings usually steamed online, http://www.occupyportland.org, and http://www.occupymedford.org. This budding movement is now too large to “go away” without systemic societal changes.

  50. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Brilliantly written, Mitch. Remember when the Nixon administration sold trade with China as a path to freedom for the Chinese people? We didn’t know he meant the freedom to make all our stuff for pennies an hour.

  51. Percy
    January 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Once again hifi is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    “Playing cards slapping on our bicycle wheels” are not gone forever. I predict they will make a strong comeback with the advent of fuel cell powered Harley Davidsons.

  52. Anonymous
    January 8, 2012 at 11:41 am

    …and NAFTA was no surprise in that same sense, jane…the beginning of a predictable expoitation process that ramped mexico into the prosperity of sharing half cents on our dollar, and producing all the pollution the government doesn’t allow within these borders. And outsourcing jobs etc. The government isn’t going to change, it’s a scam from the top down. There is no hope to change the federal government. Everybody’s being lied to…there is no “president”, there is no “senate”….that’s a face we’re trained to relate to, and it shows how either gullible or desperate people are to think anything’s going on but a single push for global control by a handful of people, fuckall us beneath them. My dad was in vietnam watching planes bomb the jungle on the horizon literally while listening to Nixon on the radio tell the nation with a straight face “we are NOT in vietnam.”

  53. January 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    When I was a kid I wanted the loudest Harley possible; now that I’m old I want the quietest Motorcycle they make.

  54. walt
    January 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Walmart IS a symptom, but I think it’s important to realize people don’t buy there because Walmart sells what they need, but because they are brainwashed to want the crap Walmart sells, from pet rocks to Air Jordans. Advertising drives consumerism, just like campaign “donations” are the mitochondria that drive our “government.” Walmart thrives in this environment while humans get stupid, fat, atherosclorotic, and eventually extinct.

  55. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hilarious Percy!

    Looks like fascism-lite to me 11:41, but getting heavier. The provision in the defense funding bill that allows the military to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens (even inside the US) President Obama’s signing statement notwithstanding, feels even heavier when I think of a Gingrich or a Santorum wielding that power not even constrained by a promise not to use it. Just how opposed to dictatorial power are the elites when they prefer the government control over labor in China to our system?

  56. Anonymous
    January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    annon 11:41 is right on..But, when it hits the fan, that green paper aint gonna save em..Signing a law that can keep us in prison indefinitly in the name of TERRORISM is and has been the deciding factor that what you said is true. Obama isnt in charge of anything except doing what hes told. I’m beginning to lose all hope.

  57. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    11:41 & 1:43, I think that goes too far. There are powerful groups competing for the implementation of their agenda who do so by getting politicians elected who will pass their legislation. Thanks to Citizens United, they have even more power to manipulate our elections with inundations of misleading ads. Most politicians belong to one or more of these powerful groups, many of which have some goals in common. Universal health care, financial reform, and tax increases on the rich are examples of policies that the majority of the country supports but too many representatives won’t turn off the gravy train from the groups who oppose these policies by actually representing their constituents. They can distract enough voters with abortion, gun rights, wars on religion, welfare queens, gays, etc. to keep their votes no matter what else they do.

  58. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    walt,

    You’re pointing out a critical part of the mess we’re all in: “…[we] are brainwashed to want the crap Walmart sells…Advertising drives consumerism…”

    I believe this is truly critical because it points to things people can do with or without organizing: turning off TV, or at least turning off advertising, and pausing and thinking before each purchase.

    One thing user interface designers and product marketers are taught is the critical importance of default behavior — the vast majority of users will never change from default settings, so as a designer you’d better make sure the defaults are set to what you think will be the most satisfactory behaviors.

    Most of us, most of the time, don’t seek out what we most need, we get the default. The simple act of pausing and asking oneself “why?” when you are making a purchase can be revolutionary, and it doesn’t require assistance from anyone else.

    Advertisers understand the critical importance of making their products familiar defaults; that’s why most of us can sing advertising jingles from memory, that’s why vendors pay for up-front locations in supermarkets, and that’s why banks are willing to offer you $100 or more for opening an account with them.

    For anyone who wants to try looking at and perhaps breaking out of their patterns, here’s a really simple first step I invite you to take right now. The trick is to remind yourself of your intentions. Write “Why?” on two sheets of paper, put one on the door from which you exit your house and the other on the inside of your car’s driver door. Then write “Why?” on a small piece of paper and put it in your wallet or purse.

    You’ll change the world.

  59. January 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Mitch, the “why” exercise is great, though I don’t write it on paper, I ask myself it every day.

  60. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Once you’ve achieved Doug’s habit, you can recycle the paper :)

  61. 713
    January 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Mitch,
    I agree with you on the advertising thing.

    You assume that if people had more information or knowledge, specifically, if they only knew what you knew, they would make a different decision, one that agrees with you. That is lofty thinking, to say the least. I don’t know if it is unique to the left, but many arguments I have with my liberal friends often end with the assertion that people (or me I guess) who disagree are either naive or too stupid to understand the subject matter. To me, that is dangerous thinking.

  62. walt
    January 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Mitch, I don’t think it’s coincidence that the BBC and NPR are being privatized: if the only source of money is corporate, that’s the only source of information, too. Walmart, BP, Bank of America (which started out as Bank of Italy) and Cargill make damn sure the programming they “underwrite” paints them in a favorable light.

  63. Plain Jane
    January 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I think Mitch has a more positive view of humanity than you do, 713. He assumes that if they were informed they would care and you assume they are informed and don’t.

  64. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    713 writes,

    “You assume that if people had more information or knowledge, specifically, if they only knew what you knew, they would make a different decision, one that agrees with you…That is dangerous thinking.”

    Hmmm. I did believe that once, and perhaps it still leaks out.

    If I may go all Clintonian for a moment, it sorta depends on the meaning of “know.”

    I think lots of people “know” that Walmart etc. is made possible by child labor in places we’d rather not think about. One of the tragedies of the human condition, IMO, is that there’s knowing and then there’s knowing. If you get what I mean.

    We are well-distracted.

    I agree with you — assuming others would agree with you if they just “knew” is very dangerous thinking. But, on the subject of dangerous thinking, taking a deep breath and asking “why” is even more dangerous. It can force someone to transition from knowing to knowing, and it’s harder to deny the truth once you know.

    There’s that cliche about it being hard to explain something to someone whose income depends on their not understanding. Yup. Dangerous, too.

  65. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    PJ,

    I can safely say I do not have a more positive view of humanity than anyone, 713 included.

  66. High Finance
    January 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    The left must think everybody who disagrees with them to be morons.

    WalMart is succesful and not because they have “brainwashed” anybody. They provide products that people want & need at a price lower than elsewhere. They help those poor you all pretend to care about. Use of the word “brainwash” exposes you as an elitist snob who thinks they are smarter than the great unwashed masses. What makes you any less of a snob than the Ingomar members you sneer at ?

    There are different types of advertising. One is alerting people to the prices or service you provide, another is to try & drive demand for your product. WalMart doesn’t try to convince you of your need for Air Jordans, that company does that. WalMart tells you how low their prices are for products that people want.

    While many of the jobs they provide are lower wage, many others are higher paid. But even the lowest wage jobs are better than unemployment or welfare. Those “studies” you all love to cite that say net jobs actually decrease have been discredited here as not pertinent to Eureka. The Bayshore Mall, Costco, Target, K-Marts have already occured here.

    The “Occupy” movement has disintegrated into bunches of the usual protestors who protest everything mixed in with homeless bums who get free meals and have nothing else to do. Nobody but the furthest left are even paying attention to them anymore, their 15 minutes was up months ago.

    Need proof ? Look at the bums & the trash & graffiti in front of our Courthouse. They are convincing nobody, they are pissing people off.

  67. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    PJ,

    HiFi is humanity.

  68. 713
    January 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Mitch, Go re-read the cave. You assume the masses are chained to the wall and you have been out to see the light. Probably not too far from the truth. Other people may have seen a different light but are no less informed, just different.

    Be careful, the prisoners did not like the truth.

  69. jr
    January 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    To “know” and “knowing” is hard work because it forces people to realize that their decisions have consequences. One of the reasons why advertising is so successful is that products–things–can be bought to create a life style. Advertisers use events such as sports to hone in on this message. The average person then buys into the hype of the event and the advertised products and are distracted from what is really going down. Basically the concept of bread and circuses–if the populations has food and entertainment, corporations can dictate the government’s agenda.

  70. jr
    January 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    There is some truth to Hi Fi’s comments re: the occupy movement vis a vis the Eureka Courthouse, but check out what other occupy movements are doing and how committed to the goal of individual empowerment each seems to be. Occupy is democracy in action because actions are not taken without discussion and consensus of the group in General Assemblies. How often does Occupy Eureka convene a G.A.?

  71. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    713,

    Thanks for the cave suggestion. The literature that generally sums up politics for me is Ibsen’s Enemy of the People. I see the entire cast of characters in Humboldt, all the time. I think Dell Arte should put on an adaptation as a summer comedy.

  72. Mitch
    January 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Incidentally, An Enemy of the People is available free online through Project Gutenberg.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=1629441

  73. Jack Sherman
    January 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    “(Walmart) provide(s) products that people want & need at a price lower than elsewhere”. “High Finance”.

    This is another excellent example of someone being effectively brainwashed, despite his “knowledge.”

    When you include the costs of environmental degradation, poverty, uninsured illness, lost productivity, military intervention, and the plethora of other “externalities” associated with an imperial economy, the price of that crap people think they need is extraordinary, economically unsustainable, and environmental suicide…literally a culture against mankind.

    If media told the truth about these costs, you could make the claim that American consumers were informed and had a choice.

    Despite readily available economic analysis, they have no idea that the reason they aren’t paying $15 a gallon for gasoline is because they already subsidized $11!

    A similar story applies to Walmart’s “every day low prices” and it is NOT BEING TOLD.

    It won’t matter soon enough, as tens of millions more join the tens of millions of Americans working all day in poverty.

  74. January 10, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I don’t always agree with HiFi, but I think he is pretty much right on here with his view of Wal-Mart, and Eureka’s Occupy movement.

  75. Apologist Not
    January 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Indeed Doug. I too must agree, but, for different reasons.

    When push comes to shove, people don’t just shop and work at Walmart out of desperation.

    As we see in Eureka, they’ll form small businesses that are proliferating in predatory industries exploiting families falling into poverty.

    In the 1930’s there was no shortage of people willing to participate in entire industries formed around the hair, gold-teeth, personal belongings, and hard-labor of German prisoners.

    FDR proved the effectiveness of investing the nation’s wealth in its working people…it benefits every class that rests upon them. The alternative is the resurgence of a very old tyranny that will always have its supporters who complain of “stealing” from the rich, even as the rich have their hands deep in the public’s pocket.

  76. Alas
    January 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Every homeless person, veteran, debt-ridden student, every uninsured, unemployed, foreclosed, bankrupted and angry American should be supporting the Occupy movement. Even Eureka’s police chief claimed to support this movement…except for the “offenders” he claimed to have spotted in their ranks. Too bad he isn’t equally angered by the EDD’s lack of job training and placement for willing workers.

    The right-wing always seeks to blame the victims of U.S./corporate tyranny to discredit every historic movement.

  77. High Finance
    January 12, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Every “homeless person, veteran, debt-ridden student, every uninsured, unemployed, foreclosed, bankrupted and angry American” should be supporting the job creators and not the job destroyers.

  78. Alas
    January 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

    After INTEL received its bailout funds they opened a computer component cleaning facility 5-football fields long in Vietnam, where the average age is about 15.

    Care to revise your deception?

  79. November 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Total BS! This entire anti-Walmart fisaco is all about the Union’s latest scam to get workers for Walmart involved in the Unions so they can contribute to the pension fund to pay for underfunded pensions of current union members; long enough so that enough time will go by so current union bosses will have long retired and can brush their hands of the problem of funding the remaining workers pensions. It’s a true Ponzi Scheme! The Union’s are merely trying to get more people in to pay for the pensions of other people and while those workers would be paying money in, the likelihood of them seeing any pension themselves is Nil! By that time, they’ll need to find another Walmart type of business to get their workers involved with some phony labor problems just to get them to fund more unfunded pensions. No matter whether you believe Walmart has labor issues or not, the end-result would mean workers would be required to pay for the pensions of others leaving their own pension in peril. Incredible!

  80. November 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    People on this list need to read this: It’s hard for busy people in a busy society to get around those who have been indoctrinated by a Gov run operations such as public education, indoctrinated by a bunch of rich uneducated Hollywood actors/actresses, indoctrinated by the media who developed to the point that a conservative might as well not even apply for a job as a journalist or TV anchor, and learn what reality is all about. For libs who think they have the answers, but are really just regurgitating the lib line verbatim, you need to read this and wake up! http://www.amazon.com/Where-Keynes-Went-Wrong-Governments/dp/1604190442/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353817651&sr=8-1&keywords=keynes+wrong

  81. Mic
    November 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    This is where union crap is leading us as well. Future Union Members, expect to los your pension while your expected to support the pension of others with your ‘forced contributions.’
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-09-18/greece-cuts-union-leader-pensions-as-budget-cut-hunt-continues

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