Friday, October 21, 2011

Time to make your own luck

The largest private employer in the United States of America is tightening its belt, tightening that belt around the throats of the 1.3 million workers caught in its trap. The workers paradise of Walmart is cutting back on its expansive health care benefits program. That’s sarcasm if you didn’t guess, since most Walmart employees don’t get health coverage now and rely on Medicaid or good luck.

Republicans whine about the big government welfare state but think nothing of subsidizing employers by providing healthcare and food stamps for their employees while simultaneously pushing to eliminate the minimum wage the employers must pay.

Walmart will make what benefits it does offer unavailable for any new hire that doesn’t consistently work more the 24 hours per week for a year. Keeping workers hours restricted keeps them poor, and a second job will likely result in dismissal. Walmart will also double the premiums for many existing employees who almost all make less than $10.00/hour. When the minimum wage was established during the height of the Great Depression at at 25 cents/hour and would be, when adjusted for inflation, somewhere between $12 and $14/hour today.

Keep in mind that 25 cents/hour was not big money even in 1938. That’s $2.00/day compared to the $5/day that Henry Ford was paying in 1910. The fact that Republicans don’t think anybody who works for a living is worthy of even 1938 starvation wages should tell you everything you need to know.

The corporate media is cluck-clucking about how Walmart has no choice but to do this given rising health costs and the bad economy. The funny thing is that in most markets where Walmart operates they have a virtual monopoly, they can charge any price they want to and do. When a Walmart comes into a community they selectively cut prices until all of their competition is gone. Even in larger communities they only share the market with other big box stores who operate much the same way.

Walmart is experiencing diminishing returns because they not only eliminate the retail merchants in the communities they establish their iron fisted occupation, but they do away with the private sector middle class entirely. Accountants, lawyers, bankers, pharmacists, doctors, dentists, hairstylists, automotive shops and tradesmen of all types are driven out as Walmart either competes directly and unfairly, or Walmart eliminates their markets by sucking the money out of the local economy.

All that is left to shop at the ideal Walmart are government workers, prison guards, illegals working at the packing plant and retired people. Enter Republican austerity, government jobs are eliminated, prisons while growing are paying lower wages to a smaller staff, even the packing plants are cutting back because of out sourcing and falling demand from a declining economy, and retirement benefits are being slashed while the wealth accumulated by a lifetime of hard work by those retirees is destroyed by Wall Street.

Not to fear for Walmart, the billionaire owners are doing better than ever, the workers can still be made to work even harder for ever less pay. The worse the economy gets, the more incentive workers have to comply. If they won’t, any job posting brings thousands of hungry applicants.

The goal of course isn’t to destroy the economy but to convert it to a “full employment” Neo-feudalism model where there are plenty of  incentives to work harder and to comply. All assets whether now private or in the public commons will become corporate assets. If you work hard enough, comply with the boss’s every whim and are just plain lucky you will be rewarded with almost enough of the things that make your life bearable like food and heat, right up until your luck runs out. Time to start making your own luck.


Paul said...

A bathtub drains quickly at first when the water level is high and the pressure at the drain is high. (top of the business cycle) When the water is mostly gone it slowly drains out. (bottom of the business cycle) How anyone could put up with this is beyond me. Why anyone who owns a corporation thinks this will be good for business is beyond me. Walmart will go down the drain last, but they will go down the drain. Two things can happen, we can control the business cycle, regulations, unions, etc., or we can let the mob fix it. (like the French did circa 1780)

macnow said...

please keep it up... your stride is becoming an open gallop.

I bet this is why you are getting more ridicules wingnuttry attention/attacks.

Lost In Middle America is a awful place to be right now. So many people I see and meet here are doubling down and screwing their own future.

Some know it, but figure the minorities etc. will suffer more; so it's all fine and good if they have screwed their grandchildren's future (cause they won't suffer as much as the grandchild of a black person).

I open my mouth probably to much for my own good... a lot of these idiots carry guns.

I don't carry a gun; left that behind when I left the military.

So when I get into arguements with some one here in the heartland; at some point my implied patriotism is questioned. AND it always sets them back a few paces when I reveal I am a decorated vet. It's also very funny how so many of those rednecks, libertarians, conservatives talk a walk like they served.

I always say, hey lets go down to the local VFW have a drink, you are a vet right?

Gets them everytime.

Walmart... F_U_C_K that shit; seriously.

But how the hell do I convince the bozos around me.

I am all ears.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard this yet?

prairie2 said...

Bank of America predicting another downgrade of US debt? This zombie bank is nearing collapse and the executives should all be in prison, but they are taking on the US government in a game of chicken. The last downgrade had the opposite effect that the right was expecting and praying for. Obama should be so lucky as they would try it again. Doing the same stupid thing over and over expecting a different outcome is popularly defined as insanity.

Dave said...

It's the social order stupid! When the social contract says that you get to eat most days and get heat in January and February, the people who live by it will cease to greater or lesser degrees to be constrained by it. It won't even be a rational decision, just a chaotic and violent one.

Anonymous said...

'Not to fear for Walmart, the billionaire owners are doing better than ever, the workers can still be made to work even harder for ever less pay. ..."

Who are Walmart puts a gun to your head and makes you work or shop at the place?

prairie2 said...

Walmart does put a gun to your head when they are the only store in town. That's why it's called a monopoly and before Reagan it was called illegal, and still is, if anybody would enforce the Taft-Hartly Act.