Friday, December 18, 2009

Truth from a Fellow American

Yesterday, I was at the IGA grocery store, and got to talking to the grocery manager who was stocking the shelves behind me. I was looking at the tea, which wasn't on my list. We like an assortment of black and green teas, as well as flavored teas for after dinner, and I was trying to remember which ones we had recently finished. I must have been there long enough that he thought I might be interested in a conversation.

"My wife just called from Walmart" he said, "and whatever they might say about the recession, she says the store is empty."

This triggered my thoughts about Walmart, and as I was shopping at my local store, and he was employed by my local store, I thought it was worth a mention. He seemed to read my mind, because he continued.

"I know what they say about Walmart," he responded, "but they have the lowest prices, and several of he (Mr. Walmart) loses money on several of his products just because he promises to have to lowest prices."

I admitted that they had the lowest prices, and reminded him that I usually shopped locally so that local merchants would stay near where I lived. (The Walmart was 30 miles away.) I then explained the movie about Walmart which he hadn't seen. A couple had an invention and they wanted Walmart to pick it up because that would insure their financial success. Walmart told them the price they wanted to pay for it. This price was much lower than the couple's original plan, and they eventually found that they could only produce it at that price if they had it manufactured in China. They did, and Walmart agreed to sell it for them.

Overseas Manufacturing is Hurting Us

He agreed that it was a shame that US goods were being manufactured overseas, but that if they were the least expensive....

I suggested that the big corporations would do well to remember that if they didn't hire US workers, that there would be an ever shrinking market. If there is no one to buy, there won't be those great big profits for them.

He then told me a story that you would only hear from someone who had been in the grocery business for years and years.

Corporate Greed has Increased Since Owners Have Sold to CEO-run Corporations

He used to work at Waldbaum, when it was owned by Mr. Waldbaum. They marked up their goods about 15%. There were 75,000 full time employees. Mr. Waldbaum paid good wages and took care of his employees as well as his customers. He was a millionaire and his stores did a large business.

A&P then bought the chain. They fired 65,000 full time employees. They increased the markup to 30%. This increased profits greatly, but the chain's revenue dropped to half of what it had been. My grocery manager, Larry, explained that this kind of greed was happening everywhere. We didn't have business owners anymore, but CEO's. And, he added, CEO's don't care about anything but profit and they don't care about anyone but themselves.

He said that when he was young, people were paid well for what they did. He bought his home when he was still in his 20's as many of his friends did. It was a shame that wages were so low for most people these days that they couldn't afford to pay rent, energy, phone and insurance and feed a family and that the CEO's were earning billions. "They will never understand what it's like for most people who have to worry about how to pay their heating bill" he added.

Before Ronald Reagan, corporate CEO's earned no more than 25 times the salary of their lowest paid employee. If the receptionist earned $7/hour, the CEO would earn no more than $175/hour. William McGuire of United Health Group is paid $234 a minute or $14040/hour. There are people in America earning less in a year than he earns in an hour.

Those who are paid these exorbitant salaries are people who can fire 65,000 Americans in a minute and people who can cut off a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer from health insurance for mistating her weight 5 years ago.... These are rare people. These are psychopaths who have no feelings for other people.

There are Solutions:

Larry had some solutions:

  1. Restore the Tariff, so that it will NOT save money to manufacture overseas
  2. Return Taxes on those earning more than $500,000 per year to 90% as it was during Eisenhower's presidency.

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