Tag Archives: Wal-Mart

What today’s economic news tells us about the ‘recovery’

Listening to the President, his administration, some in Congress and several news reports, many would say the economy is recovering slowly but gaining traction. Seeing the economic data released today may reveal a somewhat more real reality.

The unemployment figures released this morning seem promising, but only in a vacuum. Claims dropped 24,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 297,000 for May. What the report doesn’t tell us is why fewer people filed claims. Was it because all of these folks have found gainful employment? Or are fewer people re-entering the labor market after having given up on finding a job some time ago?

Home builders are feeling less confident in a housing recovery. The latest survey of builders dropped to 45 for May and the April number has been adjusted lower.  Anything below 50 is considered “negative sentiment.”

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s business activity index dropped from 16.6 in April to 15.4 in May. New orders also saw a decline from  14.8 to 10.5 indicating that the pace of growth is slowing.

If economists’ data isn’t enough, two of the nation’s largest retailers are reporting disappointing earnings.

Wal-Mart reported the smallest sales growth in 5 years today. The report blames the harsh winter for keeping customers out of their stores, but then goes on to forecast a second quarter that will come in below analysts’ expectations.

Kohl’s reported their first quarter results today and missed – on both sales and earnings. The retailer showed a $13 million drop from the same time last year in sales and missed analysts’ expectations by $15 million.

Is Walmart Now Selling Marijuana?

walmart_marijuanaCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Jan. 16, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — One would think that Walmart is now selling Marijuana as “Always Low Prices” the multimillion dollar household slogan is now being used for an online marijuana store. Sam Walton’s slogan (rest his soul) might turn over in his grave if he knew what his prized slogan is being used for. Always Low Prices to this day is plastered all over the country side from semi trucks to buildings. One can easily get confused if they google “Always Low Prices” because there’s over half a million documents floating on the internet related to Walmart. But soon “Always Low Prices” will be known as the place to buy marijuana. Many will be confused when they see “Always Low Prices” because they will think it’s Walmart’s famous brand but instead they will see a medical marijuana store instead.

In 1995, Brad Morehouse purchased AlwaysLowPrices.com and Walmart trade marked the slogan Always Low Prices in 2003. According to law, Walmart has no jurisdiction over the .com but Walmart tried to sue Brad Morehouse in 2004 threatening Mr. Morehouse with certified letters and phone calls. Mr. Morehouse called out Walmart on their deception and bully tactics to the point where Walmart dropped the case. Rumor has it that Walmart changed their slogan to “Save money. Live better” due to the lack of control of the internet .com version AlwaysLowPrices.com. It seems that AlwaysLowPrices.com is very connected to Walmart’s image or Walmart would not have given Mr. Morehouse a Cease and desist letter.

What this means is AlwaysLowPrices.com (marijuana website) can legally promote their website in any form they see fit and Walmart can also use the slogan as they see fit. This is a very strange legal conflict due to the fact that the .com was purchased prior to Walmart’s trademark and yet both parties can use Always Low Prices. Any domain names such as .net .org etc. purchased after 2003 other than the .com are protected under Walmart’s copyright. So anyone who uses the domains other than the .com will be forced to abandon the name immediately or be subject to a lawsuit.

In 2010, Brad Morehouse contacted Walmart to offer them the domain name for a price but ironically the attorneys again threaten Mr. Morehouse as the attorney obviously was clueless on the prior 2004 dispute. The attorney then insulted Mr. Morehouse with an offer of $500.00 for the name.

Walmart’s stance on Marijuana is quite confusing as Walmart had Fired Cancer Patient Joseph Casias with Prescription for Medical Marijuana yet on January 2nd 2014 Mr. Morehouse hand delivered a notice to Walmart warning Walmart of the future January 17th press release “Is Walmart now selling Marijuana?” In the notice it offers to discuss the press release before it’s sent out but Walmart didn’t bother to respond.

Toys, Tech and Twinkies: When unions go awry

The news is ripe with new union pushes for more rights, more benefits more money, fewer cuts, less hardship… all regardless of what the economy is doing. A lack of inexpensive toys, electronics and dessert food may be the cost of union member’s demands that they get more of everything while the rest of middle-to-low income America is earning less.

Unions have never been great students of economics. The fact that our current President and Senate Majority Leader pay them so much homage shows that perhaps our federal government also does not fully comprehend how a real free economy actually functions.

Next Friday, “Black Friday” as it is called, is the beginning of profitability for many retailers. Now, many union-influenced Wal-Mart employees are planning a massive walkout just as many American consumers are preparing to do the bulk of their holiday shopping.

Unions aren’t only going after toys and electronics. Twinkies, cupcakes, ho hos, ding dongs, suzy q’s, sno balls, zingers and danishes may all cease to exist once Hostess decides to close its doors. While Hostess has reached an agreement with it’s teamsters union, the baker’s union is holding the company hostage. Hostess has asked for a 4% overall pay cut to deal with the downturn in the economy and the unions have refused. As of 5pm today, the highly-specialized Twinkie bakers of hostess had not yet agreed to return to work – Hostess has said that it can no longer afford the union’s demands and will seek to close the company and sell all assets.

The Irving, Texas-based company employs about 18,300 people nationwide and filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade. Hostess cited increasing pension and medical costs for employees as one of the drivers behind its latest filing.

In economic downturns, many Americans have had to take less pay, fewer benefits, jobs that offer less or no job at all. Who does the baker’s union think buys Twinkies? With Hostess in its second bankruptcy, it is more likely that union demands will drive it out of business and the “bakers” will have to find work elsewhere – if they can. As Hostess employee Marty Raymond put it, “I’m 59 years old. I’d like to get five more years, and I’ve been working with all these workers all these years and they just don’t want to listen. They listen to the union.”

With all the talk of “shared sacrifice” from the President, the unions are looking like the most greedy of all. The economy is struggling and so are most Americans. To have a certain segment of the population decide that they deserve more while the rest of us do with less is greed – pure and simple. What’s worse is that less than 20% of the Hostess workforce is on strike – the rest will lose their jobs over union demands.

Wal-Mart employees are important because the store won’t operate without managers, stockers, cashiers and receivers. While they are free to voice their grievances  their jobs are not so highly-specialized that it will be difficult to replace them – especially in today’s job market. I am not sure that Twinkie bakers are much more specialized as the recipe is standardized, repeatable and could probably be shepherded through the automated cycle by anyone that prefers a paycheck over unemployment assistance.

The Hostess jobs are the type that could easily be moved to other countries. It requires no special education, no lengthy training, no licensing or certifications. The FDA wouldn’t care if the Ho Ho’s were made here or Mexico as long as the ingredients and methods stayed the same.

Unions are an out-moded idea. During the early 20th century they helped raise awareness and combat worker abuses. Now they just seek higher compensation than the market would otherwise dictate. Seriously, if there were a huge need for dessert cake bakers, wages would rise on their own so processed food cookeries could attract the best talent. Oddly, that’s not happening so the unions have to step in to artificially inflate wages and benefits.

If turning a blind-eye to the free market economy weren’t enough, the National Labor Relations Board – a highly-political government organization – is expected to force businesses to give personal information to unions:

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to start work on a rule that would force businesses to turn over workers’ phone numbers, emails and shift times to union organizers.

In the end, the average American family loses. Some will find Wal-Marts with long lines or closed doors on the heaviest shopping day of the year. Other’s will find their jobs ended by a few greedy union leaders bent on absolute rule over the economy.

Disturbing Find in Walmart Clothes

We’ve heard the warnings for years about the dangers of Halloween Candy.
We’ve read the emails of various odd attacks targeting specific people happening around the country.
So much of the time, these things are hoaxes.
This, however, is not a hoax.

Some customers at a Georgia Wal-Mart were stuck with hypodermic needles hidden in clothes on Black Friday. I would say it’s a bit more than disturbing.


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Protesting for the problem they're against

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are voicing a very real and understandable grievance. Corporate America is far too involved in politics. I agree wholeheartedly. What these protesters do not understand is how or why corporations got involved in the government in the first place. In their calls to end capitalism they are showing a basic historical ignorance. We haven’t been a capitalist country in a long time. We started transforming into corporatism during Teddy Roosevelt’s reign and were done with the metamorphosis by the end of FDR’s presidency. Wasn’t Teddy a Trust-Buster? He certainly was. But a close look into US Steel during that time shows that they welcomed government intervention.  Carnegie even wrote an article in the New York Times asking for “Government control” of the steel industry. The collusion is due to the fact that the free-market involves risk, and government control means they do not have to worry about their smaller competitors who were hot on their heels. Third–party intervention into business favors the largest companies and often bankrupts the smaller companies.

This basic idea can be seen in the story of Upton Sinclair and his book “The Jungle.” In the popular narrative, his investigative journalism changed the meat packing industry. What is not known is that the industry itself wanted regulation. A Big Meat, as it would be called today, spokesman said as much to Congress. Government regulation behooved the major packers because the regulation pushed smaller and ironically more sanitary meat packers out of business due to the cost of the regulations, and also provided the commercial benefit of a federal seal by which to further sell their product.

Government meddling in business in fact causes corporatism. The free-market keeps business at a safe distance from the government. In other words, capitalism is what the Wall Street protesters should be begging for, not protesting against. The story of Microsoft is a modern example of this idea. For a long time Bill Gates bragged about the fact that his company, Microsoft, had no interest in government. He was being honest- Microsoft had but a single lobbyist- that is until he was attacked for being a monopolist. Now he has a veritable army on k-street. Wal-Mart is another enlightening example of this. In 2000, the company was ranked 771st in direct contributions to Federal politicians. After being attacked by unions and politicians, Wal-Mart had developed the single largest corporate political action committee by 2004.

The only people that are helped by government intervention are large companies and politicians. Small companies and consumers take the hit: consumers in paying higher prices and small companies by being pushed out of the market. It seems that the protesters are protesting for what they claim to be against. Economics and civics are complicated and the people funding these protests rely on those who join them to be too lazy or ignorant to understand either. For now it looks like they are right.

 

Women’s Forum Comments on Wal-Mart Supreme Court Ruling

Member’s of the Independent Women’s Forum speak out on the Supreme Court ruling for Wal-Mart.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Supreme Court ruled today on Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes, in a case that considered whether roughly 1.5 million employees of Wal-Mart could file a class action lawsuit claiming discrimination. In a 9 to 0 decision, the Court ruled that the 1.5 million employees could not be considered a class and sue the nation’s larger employer.

Carrie Lukas, managing director:

This is good news for anyone concerned about our economy and joblessness. When companies spend their time defending themselves against lawsuits, they have less money to focus on hiring workers and expanding their businesses.

Discrimination is illegal, and employees who are treated unfairly should have their day in court, but companies also have to have the ability to defend themselves. Lumping together the experiences of 1.5 million employees spread throughout the country in different positions and with different bosses doesn’t advance justice.

Nicole Neily, executive director:

The plaintiff’s case relied on statistically evidence that female employees make less on average than men do, but as we’ve seen with more careful analysis, such statistics tend to be misleading. Many factors drive differences in pay. You can’t just assume that all statistical discrepancies are evidence of discrimination.

Kat Ciano, senior fellow:

While there is no legal limit on the number of plaintiffs that can band together to join a class action suit, the group of women seeking certification as a class in the Wal-Mart litigation number over 1.5 million — a group larger than the combined active duty of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. This is an enormous group forced together despite major distinctions among its members. To qualify as a class action a group must prove that they are “similarly situated.” Simply being female does make members of this group ‘similar.’ Yet for the Supreme Court to ignore distinctions across education levels, job skills, experience, and position sought at Wal-Mart would fundamentally change the way courts understand classes of people, and open the door for a flood of new, ill-conceived class action suits.

Sabrina Schaeffer, senior fellow:

I applaud the Supreme Court for its decision. It was absurd to think that Wal-Mart systematically discriminated against millions of women, regardless of job description or store location. In the aggregate, women are outperforming men in terms of college-graduation rates, advanced degrees, purchasing power and even, in some cities, earnings. Today’s victory helps underscore the fact that the best explanation for differences in pay between men and women comes down to choices – not discrimination. Perhaps now the feminist left will begin to accept that equality under the law doesn’t necessitate gender parity across all professional arenas.

Anna Rittgers, senior fellow:

With today’s ruling, the Supreme Court has affirmed that all Americans deserve due process, whether male or female, employee or employer. The mere allegation of sex discrimination against an employer is not enough to dispense with federal court rules and procedures for bringing forth class action lawsuits.

Class action lawsuits are only proper if the plaintiff class members’ claims against the defendant are sufficiently alike. The only thing uniting these class members was that they were women who had received a paycheck from Wal-Mart.

Proof of a common, company-wide culture of discrimination against women cannot be found in a few individuals’ anecdotal accounts and statistical discrepancies between men’s and women’s pay. Wal-Mart’s company policies, like every other major corporation in America, explicitly prohibit discrimination and encourage diversity among its employees. It should not be easier to file a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart simply because it has deep pockets.