Saturday, November 29, 2008

What's Wrong With Wal-Mart's?

CNN reports today on two separate tragic incidents in Wal-Mart stores. One was a death by trampling and the other by shooting.

In the first, a temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

In the second, unrelated incident, two men were shot dead in a Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, California, after they argued in the store, police said.

A few things about this story got my attention. One is the obvious, how could a crowd of people be so frantic to do shopping that they not only trampled an employee to death, but started lining up at the locked doors the night before? To me that seems truly bizarre.

And I wondered what's wrong with CNN to have devoted 90% of the article to the trampling and practically no information about the shooting in California. Maybe they just didn't have the details from the west coast, but is such a thing possible in the internet age? Could this be an example of their famous picking and choosing of the sexiest stories? Did they make an editorial decision that the trampling was so much more intriguing to the readers that they gave the shooting, which is commonplace these days, short shrift? It's been suggested that the only reason I find so few defensive shooting stories in the main stream media is because they prefer printing the violent illegal ones and not because the defensive ones are so rare. Could this story be an example of that very editorial mechanism in action?

And finally, about the title of my post, what's wrong with Wal-Mart. Besides a nifty bit of alliteration, it's a serious question. I often hear disparaging remarks about the retail giant, which I find odd. I know they exploit their suppliers by supporting the third-world sweat-shop system, and they exploit their domestic workers in various ways, but don't they provide exactly what America needs and wants? I've been out of the country for 20 years, but on my visits I've had occasion to visit Wal-Mart's and other places like them. I thought the vast variety and incredibly low prices made up for many of those sins. What do you think?


  1. "The toy company and authorities said the California shootings had nothing to do with shopping on Black Friday, which is historically one of the year's busiest shopping days."

    Both Men Died at the scene, and both had guns. In California carry permits are pretty hard to get, and to have two at once, and Police appear to know what happened fairly quick...this COULD (nothing certain) be a Gang dispute.

    As for the trampling, this was Black Friday, Mike. The Offical first day of the Christmas Shopping season. Stores on this day usally load up on DEEP discounts (Often 50-90%...I've got a ton of stuff at 100% off with rebate) to help draw in shoppers, and clear shelves for the holliday wares. These days many stores are opening at midnight, others at 5am, and with big items (Like a 36" LCD TV for $400) at very small stock numbers (We're talking like 3-10 units) people line up hours early so they're the first. I've seen some pushing, shoving, and couding, but nothing dangerous, but in all the stores in all the country I can see it turning deadly every few years. (There was a woman who filed a suit against a store for being trampled...but it turns out this happens to her every year, so the latest claim was dismissed as fake)

    As for Wal Mart, I will no longer buy ammo (I never bought guns from them as their price and selection sucked, and they don't deal in used pieces) because they were archiving camera footage of sales from that department for Mayor Bloomberg. I'm not a huge fan of sending my Money to china for cheap goods....but let's be real, there isn't many places where you can't do that (OK minus gun shops), but honestly I don't shop at Wal Mart because their service sucks, they're most often under-staffed, and they lock up their DVDs so it's impossible to browse them. They have also had some cases of mistreatment of workers, but that may have been squared away.

    Other than that, I have no problem with them. Personally I prefer to go to Target.

  2. You asked me to come back once in a while.

    I made my vote when I spit in Sam Walton's face at the Pub over his plans on union busting and squeezing suppliers to the last drop of blood.

    We both got kicked out.

    Ex-Friend of mine became buddies with him and went and hung out in Cabo with him. We haven't spoken since.


    Tyson Chicken people are worse than the Wallyworld family. You'd kick them out of your house with a vengeance and you're an apologetic liberal.


  3. That Wal-Mart on Long Island is about 20 minutes or so from my house. I talked to a woman yesterday who was there shortly after the trampling death. She said the police couldn't even control the crowd surging to get in even after the medical response team arrived. Just ridiculous.

    I've never been in a Wal-Mart, so I can't judge what is either right or wrong about them.

  4. Mike,

    Off topic, but I'm interested in your thought on the recent terrorist attack in India.

    Here is probably a story not many people have seen.

    Mumbai photographer: I wish I'd had a gun, not a camera. Armed police would not fire back

    But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they just didn't shoot back."...

    The militants returned inside the station and headed towards a rear exit towards Chowpatty Beach. Mr D'Souza added: "I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera."

    While this is India I realize; please tell me why I should have to depend only on the police to protect me.

    Please tell me again why we need to keep law abiding citizens from carrying firearms.

    Please tell me, after 9/11 and all the other terrorist attacks on the USA, why we shouldn't be ready to protect ourselves and our families.

    A few additional thoughts:

    "...quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est." [...a sword never kills anybody; it's a tool in the killer's hand.]
    -- (Lucius Annaeus) Seneca "the Younger" (ca. 4 BC-65 AD)

    [The disarming of citizens] has a double effect, it palsies the hand and brutalizes the mind: a habitual disuse of physical forces totally destroys the moral [force]; and men lose at once the power of protecting themselves, and of discerning the cause of their oppression.
    -- Joel Barlow, "Advice to the Privileged Orders", 1792-93

    And last but certainly not least:

    "Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." -- Mohandas Gandhi, An Autobiography, pg 446

  5. When reading that article this morning that Gandhi quote stuck in my mind.

    Of course my next thought was "If the terrorists thought that even 10% of the hotel guests would be armed would they have attacked at all?"

    Maybe...but I suspect they would have just used a bomb.

  6. Earl, But why have you never been to a Wal-Mart's?

  7. Bob and Weer'd, Maybe I need to make a post about Mumbai. Perhaps it could be combined with the Somali Pirates. Or is that two separate ones? What do you think?

  8. Your call, Mike. Both are great topics. I'd say if you want to combine them, distill them to one common issue you want to discuss, as they're both MASSIVE stories and aspects of humanity.

  9. Mike,

    I would be interested in a post on either subject or both.

    What I would really like to know is how you feel gun control has worked in either situation. India has very strict gun control laws, basically the population is effectively disarmed. Do you think that not having easy availability of guns made the people at Mumbai safer or not?

    I think, as Weer'd has repeatedly asked in the past, it is time for you to move out of the realm of theory and into real life on the issue of gun control.

    Do you have any doubt in the world that an incident like that couldn't happen in Rome Italy or Rome, Any State, USA?

    What actions would you be willing to do to protect yourself alone, protect your family?