A big problem in today’s society is always wanting to have someone to blame and do not want to take responsibility it for our own actions. If someone loses their house they want to blame the government for taking it away. Most people don’t think that maybe they got in way over their heads and should not have taken out such a big loan when they could not afford it. Or if someone buys a cup of coffee and they spill it on themselves and get burnt they want to sue the place they bought it at, not blame themselves. The article “Don’t Blame Wal-Mart” by Robert Reich really makes you think about this and I strongly agree with the author. People say that Wal-Mart doesn’t pay their workers enough and they put small businesses out of business using cut-throat tactics, yet they still shop at Wal-Mart because they want the cheaper price. I’m not saying Wal-Mart’s tactics are right, but what I am saying is that we cannot blame Wal-Mart because without people shopping there they could not stay open.
In Reich’s article he stated that Wal-Mart pays its 1.2 million workers on average $9.68 an hour and doesn’t provide most of them with health insurance. I have seen this first hand. My friend works for Wal-Mart and she gets paid 8.00 an hour and does not get health insurance because they only allow her to work 30 hours a week and their full time is 34 hours a week. She is not considered full time so she has to wait a full year to receive health benefits from Wal-Mart. Waiting a full year to receive health benefits is very hard for her because she has a one year old daughter and she is a single mother. Although, I do have to point out that they are employing 1.2 million workers in this economy. An economy that a job is very hard to come by and some people would be happy to be receiving $9.68 an hour as opposed to making absolutely nothing.
Robert Reich also stated in his article that Wal-Mart turns main streets into ghost towns, which I also agree with because I have seen it happen in my own home town. Although it was not Wal-Mart, it was a big chain grocery store. I grew up in a small town with literally two stoplights and less that 1,000 people in it. We had one grocery store and it was a small friendly store where they were always happy to help you out to your car with your groceries and chit chat. My grandma had worked there for 10 years and I always got to go in and see her and they all knew me as Ginny’s grand-daughter. Unfortunately when I was in junior high Country Mart decided to build right across the street from the grocery store. It only took them one year to run Pence’s IGA out of business because of lower prices. Now that Pence’s has been closed Country Mart has raised it’s prices considerably and because they have a pharmacy right inside their store the pharmacy down town was forced to close also. I was very upset about that because the pharmacy is where I went with my grandma every Saturday afternoon and got an old fashioned shake. Down town still does not look the same without Burns Drug Store and most people in town blame Country Mart. They forget that they did not have to shop there and drive these businesses out of town. If they would have refused to shop at Country Mart, there is no way Country Mart could have made it and Pence’s IGA and Burn’s Pharmacy would still be open today.
That goes back to my original point that no one wants to take responsibility and I completely agree with Reich. We can’t blame Wal-Mart when we are the thing that keeps their business going. Without us, the consumers, they would not have a business. Like Reich’s article said, “Sam Walton did not create the world’s largest retailer by putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to shop there.” We go there because as consumers we want to save money and Wal-Mart has found a way for us to do that. Businesses strive to find a way to make products the cheapest and most efficient way possible, it may not be ethical, but we profit from it also. I liked Reich’s point where he said he did not want a small book store in his town to close, but he still bought books from Amazon.com because they were cheaper. This reminded me of K-State Students, we have the option of buying our books at Varney’s in Manhattan or we can go on the internet to sites like half.com and save a lot of money on our textbooks. That does not profit Manhattan’s business, but we want the cheaper price. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, college kids tend not to have very much money, but it is our choice where we shop and if Varney’s went out of business tomorrow we would have no one else to blame but ourselves.
In the end I completely agree with this article, we all want to blame big businesses like Wal-Mart, but we are the ones keeping them in business. We see the statistics of how bad it is to be a Wal-Mart employee, we see them destroying small businesses, and yet we continue shopping there because like every consumer we want to save money. We don’t want to have to pay twice as much for the same product somewhere else, but it is our choice where we shop. You simply cannot force someone to do something they don’t want to do a person always has a choice.