From a blog post by a seminary student. A+ for the lamprey simile.
In my view the Walmarts of the world represent a society willing to exploit cheap labor in a distant country, cheap labor of their neighbors, and even their faith to save a buck. The problem isn’t just Sam Walton attaching himself to Christian culture like a lamprey and sucking monetary wealth out of it, the problem is the culture that told him they were fine with that.
On a related note, lampreys are terrifying:
The Walton family, the richest family in America and majority owners of Walmart, says its goal in education “philanthropy” is to improve schools for poor kids. (The reality of the family’s education work is slightly more complicated, however.) Walmart Board of Directors member Marissa Mayer and her husband support a non-profit that wants to “break the cycle of poverty for good.” Another director, Aida Alvarez, is chair of the Latino Community Foundation, which supports “equitable access to educational, economic, and health success.”
With these Walmart leaders voicing support for fighting poverty, you’d think that ending poverty wages at Walmart ought to be a snap, then, right? Unfortunately, when the rich and privileged of Walmart are confronted with actual Walmart associates who are calling on them to use their position to end poverty wages, skimpy benefits, and unpredictable scheduling at the world’s largest private employer, they won’t literally put their money where their mouths are. Instead, by refusing to act, they are perpetuating poverty for hundreds of thousands of Walmart associates and their families.
They have sat by silently as Walmart has engaged in an illegal campaign of retaliation and intimidation against associates who are taking a stand for better wages and benefits. (And now a federal agency has issued a complaint against Walmart for violating labor law.) They have ignored countless direct appeals from Walmart associates to hear out what the associates themselves have to say about working at Walmart. Marissa Mayer even publicly mocked protesting Walmart associates.
The Walton family is the majority owner of Walmart, and as members of Walmart’s Board of Directors, Aida Alvarez and Marissa Mayer are leaders at the company. They have the ability to influence Walmart to change its ways and show respect to all 1.3 million associates in the U.S. by making sure they all earn a living wage. If they are really serious about breaking the cycle of poverty, they could take a huge step toward making it happen. What’s holding them back? What—or who—are they afraid of?
Ever bought a rare vintage Ferrari for $12.1 million and tried to get the government to let you import it from Italy duty-free, only to have that pesky Customs & Border Protection come along and ruin everything by making you pay a 2.5% tariff?
…yeah, us neither, but it happened to Rob Walton.
Rob bought a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa in 2009 for $12.1 million, then the world record price for a car sold at auction. His lawyer tried to get CBP to allow the car to be imported to the U.S. duty-free, as a special type of collector’s item. Unfortunately for Rob, CBP was apparently not impressed by the lawyer’s argument, and issued a ruling stating that the Ferrari was to be imported as a regular old motor vehicle, subject to an import tariff of 2.5%.
On a car purchased for $12.1 million, the 2.5% tariff amounts to nearly $303,000. Luckily for Rob, he collects about $25,000 a minute in Walmart dividends, so he was able to take care of it by merely owning Walmart stock for about 12 minutes. Back in the world of normal people, there are Walmart associates like John Paul Ashton, who is forced to rely on food stamps because he doesn’t earn enough at Walmart to feed his two kids.
Here’s Rob and his wife Melani enjoying the $12.1 million car on the open road. John Paul has to walk 45 minutes to work—do you think Rob and Melani might be able to give him a ride sometime?
The Arkansas Times recently reported that Alice Walton’s art museum, Crystal Bridges, bought a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house and is moving it from New Jersey to Bentonville. Here’s what one Times reader had to say about the purchase:
Sounds about right.
In her day job as Yahoo! CEO, Walmart director Marissa Mayer has been on a notorious acquisition spree, scooping up companies left and right. She even bought Tumblr!
A few weeks ago, Mayer went and acquired a news anchor! Specifically, Katie Couric. Couric will be the “global anchor” for Yahoo!’s new news programming. It’s a part-time gig, so Couric will still host her daytime talk show. Couric will reportedly get a salary of $6 million for this part-time gig.
While Marissa Mayer doles out multi-million pay packages for part-time work, 825,000 Walmart associates earn less than $25,000 a year, and many struggle to pay the rent or rely on food stamps to feed their families. And like fast food workers, Walmart associates often ask to work more hours so they can earn enough money to get by, but get turned down.
Marissa Mayer has rebuffed Walmart associates’ repeated efforts to engage her in discussion about the company’s illegal retaliation against associates who speak out for improved wages and working conditions.
Rob Walton’s rare $15+ million 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe, in happier times (i.e., before he crashed it).
Aaaaaand Rob Walton’s rare $15+ million 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe, after he crashed it. (He was reportedly not hurt.) Fortunately for Rob, it probably took just a couple days of Walmart dividends to pay for the repairs.
Meanwhile, the average Walmart associate would have to work around the clock for 194 years to buy a $15 million car (let alone pay for post-crash repairs).