I had an opportunity to check out the new documentary. Michael Moore really raised the bar as far as documentary standards are concerned because this one was hardly engaging, barely interesting, and poorly put together.
But, there were plenty of fun facts to share:
- Wal-Mart has driven down retail wages by $3 billion.
- Research at Berkeley has shown $86 million has been expensed to California tax payers in the form of health-care and other benefits (ie: welfare, food-stamps that employees are forced to apply for).
- …and over $1.6 billion nationwide.
- There are over 26.7 million square feet of empty stores across the country.
Denver Public Schools could have kept 3 schools open with the subsidies given to Wal-Mart.
- Over $1 billion has been given to Wal-Mart in the form of subsidies across the nation.
- Workers in the Chinese factories bring home less than $3 a day.
See? Weren’t those fun? I’m not sure where the numbers come from, what they are and aren’t comprised of, etc. But I suppose that’s true of all opposition. In any case, the documentary seemed so random, so back and forth between topics. Movie clips and interviews from previous and current employees were haphazardly edited. It was almost hard to sit and endure the film.
Those facts were almost as fun as the part where workers from China, India, etc. started to speak directly to the viewer. They remind us of the pain that they go through to provide us with our inexpensive toys and cheap electronics. It’s those people that gave us the privledge of trampling over our neighbors and community members to grab the last portable DVD player on Friday…
But seriously, I’m really frustrated by the health-care comments presented. People like to constantly argue that Wal-Mart has made its health care unafforadable. I invite anyone to post a list of companies that provide reasonable benefits such as cheap healthcare. Wal-Mart employees aren’t the only ones suffering. A quick search on Google News provided not one, but a number of articles about the high cost of health care to businesses everywhere. One even cites “health benefits” as “the largest business expense after salaries”. You won’t get low prices if Wal-Mart has to provide for all its employees…
That leads me to my next point: playing “This Land is Your Land” while the movie harps on the well-publicized notion that Wal-Mart destroys the smaller stores is annoying. Even the crude animated show South Park nailed it on the head when it said that it’s the people that kill the stores. The masses choose the cheaper alternative. Put simply: competition kills.
As I wrote this I glanced a few pages into the latest Fortune. They have an article entitled “Don’t Blame Wal-Mart” which says, ultimately, the same things. It also suggests that we “blame America’s inability to devise a national health plan that takes the burden off employers”.
One final point made is that although a lot of questional behavior is presented by the documentary (racism and sexism, among other things), the real question is “whether such behavior is systemic”. Michael Moore’s documentaries certainly tried to look a bit deeper then this one did. Point-of-view alone suggests the extreme bias against any and all management in any and all situations. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from the jumble of accounts and tales…
If you already hate Wal-Mart you may enjoy this film (just so you can add more facts to your arsenal) and if you don’t, then don’t bother…
Update: Matt Johnston adds additional points. For instance, “Whenever I see, Chinese factory workers make less than $3 a day, I must ask the question, what are their salary alternatives? ”
There are plenty of great points being made in the comments, thanks for posting, everyone.