Tag Archives: Walmart

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pope Francis?

27 Nov

pope-francis_2541160bWell, I suspect the gates of Hell are now freezing over. For those of you who read this blog, you know I am not a religious person. Never did I think I would be actually praising the Catholic Pope, but alas I am.  Today, Pope Francis actually said that Capitalism is “a new tyranny,” and he also managed to dismantle the ever present Reagan myth of “trickle down economics.” Is it possible the Catholic Church may be moving to a model of social justice and abandoning a platform of hate that has been in place for the past 40 years?

It is difficult for me not to think about the classism and avarice demonstrated by John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Teahaddists when I hear Pope Francis say:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Not only does he address poverty and how we treat humans as “consumer goods” but he addresses the systemic root problem which we call Capitalism. When I first read his comments, I thought he was talking about The Hunger Games, and in a way he is. The top 20% live off the remaining 80% and they watch us as we fight for any scraps available and mock us for needing social services because not everyone makes a living wage, not everyone has health insurance.

We are approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday; how many millions of families will be struggling now to put food on the table? Thanks for cutting food stamps just in time for the holidays!  The entire apostolic exhortation is really quite wonderful and if you have the time, I encourage you to read at least the first 25 pages.

Sadly, as wonderful as this movement towards social justice is, it left me wanting more. While he addresses poverty and the causes of poverty, he does not seem to be able to understand fully who is impacted and the intersections of oppression – -those oppressed by intersecting identities of gender, race, ability, and sexual orientation. I was hoping for a call to action to stand with all targeted populations and understand that poverty disproportionately affects people of color, LGBT people, and women, so one can imagine how one might be affected by poverty if one is a black lesbian, or Latina transgender woman.

Again, I give full kudos to the Pope’s address here, but when will “the voice of God” talk about women being able to govern their own bodies? Eradicating homophobia and racism? When does the church say: “All are welcome regardless and ever regardful?”

Boycott Black Friday

21 Nov

In the wake of an impressively progressive election season, let’s carry the concept of human rights into the massive holiday shopping season. The constant advertising and promotion for us to shop on Black Friday is enough to make me spit up! Making all those deals happen involves horrific and abusive employment practices.

Workers are being exploited like never before.  Walmarts around the country will be open 24 hours and are holding holiday sales on Thanksgiving itself for the first time.  The situation is so bad that Walmart employees are mounting unprecedented protests and the retail giant is pulling out every dirty trick to try to stop them.  Have you no decency Walmart?

Please consider some simple facts before you surge into the shopping madness this weekend.

  • For you to shop at 2 o’clock, someone has to be there at 1:00 to set up the store; or stay after closing the night before so all the special advertising material isn’t shown before the sale begins.
  • The stores and malls that offer shockingly “great” deals for earlybirds have to be staffed by people, people who should have lives of their own.
  • Most of those retail staff are underpaid; many try to support families on wages below poverty without benefits.
  • Before you shout “But they’ll earn great commissions!” please realize that most retailers drastically reduce commission levels (if they offer them at all) starting on the day after Thanksgiving because it’s “too easy” to earn the extra money being run off your feet by extra hoards of shoppers fighting over the last Tickle Me Bieber–I think I just made myself spit up a little with that one.
  • Many of those workers rely on public transportation, which doesn’t operate during the hours it takes to get to the workplace to staff these special sales. So even if they get commissions or overtime (or just extra work hours), those minimal wages get eaten up with cab fare or parking fees paid while they deprive the rest of the family of the one vehicle they own.
  • You don’t need a bargain so badly that it’s worth going to the store at 4a.m., and an extra 5% off the latest Wii isn’t worth your sleep or your time with your family. Really.

So please join me in saying “NO” to abusive sales practices. If you have any other local choices, stay away from Walmart. While you’re at it, avoid JCPenney, which promised to skip Black Friday back in February but has reneged on that oath.

Times are hard, so shop smart and save where you can. But please remember the thousands of people it takes to get that bargain ready for you, and treat them with human kindness this holiday season.

Number 4 Bigot of the Year Award 2011: Corporate America

29 Dec

Number 4 Bigot of 2011

Corporate America received more than two dozen nominations from TSM readers as Bigot of the Year. 2011 was a particularly nasty and ugly year to witness how corporations are willing to discriminate based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender conformity.  Here were some of the top offenders of 2010: Target and its significant donation to key anti-gay politicians that profit from being homophobic and anti-woman; Gold’s Gym funding the misogynistic and homophobic Karl Rove; Walmart holding such enormous political clout as a corporation that even the United States Supreme Court refused to heard the collective voices of millions of women who faced and continue to face discrimination; and of course Lowe’s which helps to perpetuate the vile myth that Muslims should be feared and can’t be trusted.  Yes, these are just a few of the corporations that are lumped together as a cancerous mass that have earned the dubious honor of the number 4 Bigot of the Year Award.

Flashback 2010: The Number 4 Bigot of 2010 was the ever charm free Family Research Council.

Oprah Turning her Back on Women for Walmart

12 Mar

Oprah: I expected better from you.

At this point, most people are aware that the plaintiffs in Dukes v. Walmart Stores allege that Walmart systematically discriminated against more than one million women in its promotion and compensation practices.  On March 29, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on whether the women should be allowed to move forward with their case as a class. Walmart has a  long established history of being a puppet for right wing voices and a history of long standing misogyny/homophobia, and poor treatment of their employees.  For those of you that decry: “Just let them go somewhere else and work,” you have not been paying attention. When Walmart moves into towns it wipes out all competition and small mom and pop businesses, so there is no other place for working class folks to get a job. This class action lawsuit brought by over 1 million women has been in the news for a long time; granted it is not getting the coverage it deserves.

So how does this tie into Oprah turning her back on women?  Well, I must confess, that I try not to watch the Oprah Winfrey show, but I did catch an episode where she was celebrating a family that had sextuplets due to fertility drugs.  To my astonishment, Oprah gave free airtime to Walmart and glorified them as some type of National Philanthropy organization. Oprah are you really that out of touch with what is going on in the real world? Do you not pay attention to how corporate America now controls laborers? What message do you send when you glorify WalMart on your show? To make matters worse, the case is going before the Supreme Court and we all know how pro-woman the Fecal Five are. Scalia’s son is representing Walmart in this case. Does it not seem ethically sound for Scalia to recuse himself from this case?  Click here to take action! Oprah, I would never diminish the pioneering work you have done for women and specifically for black women, but WOW, you missed the mark on this one.

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