December 6th, 2006

ozarque figure

The Wal-Mart discussion....

I have the misfortune to be one of only two pro-Wal-Mart persons in a large extended family of people whose feelings about "The Beast/Bully of Bentonville" are essentially the same as those expressed in almost all of your excellent, welcome, and well-written comments. [The one relative who is also pro-Wal-Mart holds that view for reasons very different from my reasons ... basically "It's cheap and it's convenient."] I'm outnumbered at home, and I'm outnumbered here. The difference between the two situations is that at home I'm careful not to bring up the issue; here, I brought it up myself, voluntarily. And that means that I owe you an adequate response.

It will take me a while -- a substantial while -- to construct that response. I feel much the way I felt when I failed my "comprehensive" exam on historical linguistics (a course I hadn't taken, but not having taken a course doesn't excuse you from its exam at UCSD) and I was ordered to write a penalty paper that reconstructed the pronominal system of Proto-Athabaskan. I did write that paper, and defended it -- but it took a while. [Anything worth doing is worth doing well, she says platitudinously.]

As is always the case in my experience, the one reference article I need most -- the one that tackles the statistics about the number of Wal-Mart employees on Medicaid and food stamps -- is nowhere to be found. I know I have it somewhere, and I have spent obscene amounts of time hunting for it -- both in my house and on the Net -- and so far I can't find it. I'm still looking.

While I'm doing that, I'd like to mention in passing two articles, neither of which, unfortunately, is available online. [Or if they are, I haven't been able to find them.] Both are in the December 11, 2006 print issue of Fortune. They are....

"Attack of the Wal*Martyrs," by Barney Gimbel, on pp. 125-130, an article about "what is quite possibly the most relentless public relations assault ever launched against a company." (on page 126)


"Queer, Inc.: How Corporate America fell in love with gays and lesbians. It's a movement," by Marc Gunther, on pp. 93-110 ... especially the section about Wal-Mart on page 110. Which includes this quote:

"Here comes the backlash. The American Family Association called for a Thanksgiving-weekend boycott. Phil Burress, the Cincinnati-based activist, says, 'Wal-Mart has no idea what they have taken on here. This Christmas, Wal-Mart's going to take a huge hit for what they've done.' "

[Thanks to gypsylady I now know that the articles are online. "Attack of the Wal*Martyrs" is at and "Queer Inc." is at .]

And now I'm off to wrap some Christmas presents...