Monday, September 28, 2009

Wal-Mart, Symbol of America

I am horrified, although I don't know exactly why, I shouldn't really be all that surprised about what I read in the paper this morning. About half of the respondents in a new poll chose Wal-Mart as the institution that best symbolizes America today. Personally, I think Wal-Mart is the institution that best symbolizes what is wrong with America today, but I guess that is just my opinion. What do I really have to say about this? Don't the findings speak for themselves? Yet, some people still need to ask why I am a cynic? The article pointed out how other companies like Google, Microsoft, and Goldman-Sachs were "left in the dust" on this one. I would like to point out that the companies that were "left in the dust" are also companies that have a more educated work force than Wal-Mart, they are also companies that do much of their hiring from overseas, does anyone besides me see a correlation here?

Despite its reputation for good bargains, Wal-Mart makes me think of things like labor exploitation and forced price cutting. Are these the "values" we want to continue to be known for throughout the world? Like our primary education system, the focus seems to be on mediocrity. No longer a nation known for the futuristic foresight of innovative greatness, no not us, our symbol of "success" according to some Americans lies in amassing cheap quantities of materialistic goods that can be consumed in the moment. This points to a value of success not based on quality, but based on our ability to bulldoze the competition and live cheaply in the moment.


Secret said...

Karen, you are so right! While the Wal-Mart of Sam Walton's day may have been something Americans could be proud of (remember when they had "Made in USA" signs everywhere?), the Wal-Mart of today is a symbol of capitalism without morality, of rampant consumerism.
Middle- and low-income consumers flood Wal-Mart for their cheap goods because they think it's a good thing they can afford to buy so much crap there. Only they have no concept that it's that very same "bargain" that's keeping them in that income bracket, and could even put them out of a job one of these days. But don't worry, if they lose their job in the manufacturing plant, they can always get a job at Wal-Mart.

This video from The Jay Leno Show is kind of long, but if you go to about the 3:25 mark, you'll see a joke that sums up the state of things pretty well.

Pete said...

They monopolized many essential goods, no good for small time businesses!