Is Your Stuff Falling Apart? Thank Walmart


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We all know Walmart is evil - here's a very well-written article on how and why Walmart is bad for us and society:

"My friend Tony’s closet is as good a place as any to begin an investigation of Walmart’s environmental impact. Tony has a pair of Levi’s that date back to high school more than 20 years ago. They still fit him and they’re still in rotation. The fabric has a smooth patina that hints at its age, but, compared to another pair of Levi’s he bought only a couple of years ago, this pair actually looks far less worn. The denim is sturdier, the seams more substantial, the rivets bigger.

Tony’s old pair of Levi’s may well have been made in the U.S, and they likely cost more than his new pair. The new ones were manufactured abroad — Levi’s closed its last U.S. factory in 2003 — and, though Tony didn’t buy them at Walmart, their shoddy construction can be blamed at least in part on the giant retailer and the way it’s reshaping manufacturing around the world."

the rest of the article.....

http://grist.org/business-technology/2011-11-11-is-your-stuff-falling-apart-thank-walmart/

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Very interesting. I'll admit I was part of the problem, and to a large degree still am, price is my number one focus. Heck, when I go out to eat I start with the price and the look to the left to see if I'd be satisfied with the food.

But I definitely learned a lesson about the importance of quality. We built a house a while ago and while we didn't go with the cheapest appliances available, we didn't exactly splurge on the GE ones we got. Within 4 years we'd had a problem with every single one of them, in fact we paid more in multiple repairs on the stove than a new one would have cost. Needless to say I will never buy GE again and when we picked out the appliances for the house we just built we looked for quality, not price. My sister moved into her newly built house 3 months ago and has already had a problem with her appliances. Not surprisingly her builder installed GE appliances.

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One of my old bosses had a good line: "A poor man cannot afford to buy cheap."

So we are to blame Walmart for this, guess we are all mindless sheep that follow the leader no matter what. :Grin-Nod:

You didn't read the article, did ya?

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In order to draw the price sensitive customer in the droves they have, Walmart's policy is to pay a lower price to any supplier with each successive contract renewal. So if you're the Levi Strauss company, you have three choices when it's time to re-up with Walmart. You can take a cut out of your profits; reduce costs by reducing quality, or tell Walmart to go pound salt. We all know that the last one isn't really an option and not many are willing to cut their own profits and bonuses, so the only option remaining is quality.

Here's an interesting tidbit on the Walmart effect.

http://www.fastcompany.com/47593/wal-mart-you-dont-know

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We all know Walmart is evil -

Please do not include me in your collective "We".

I shop at Walmart, I shop at the Dollar Store, and I also Shop at No Frills. I also buy my gas at "Pioneer" one of the cheapest gas outlets in this area. I love Pizza Hut and Subway, both low cost eating establishments.

Walmart makes 36 million dollars an hour, 24 hours a day, and I don't have a problem with that, If Walmart is "evil" because they receive much of their product from China, so are countless other makers of products including cars, (you really don't think all parts of Japanese cars are totally made in Japan do you?).

Quality is a questionable issue. I bought a watch from China, for $20.00 (included shipping) and have had numerous people ask where they could get such a nice instrument........Been running accurately now for 4 years and looks like a very expensive, and very fashionable piece of gear.

Press-Clamps for holding beach towels on my boats railings......Canadian Tire, $4.95 each, (on sale)...Identical Item at the Dollar Store, $1.00.

No store is "evil" ......one just has to ensure they are aware that they are getting what they want and getting the "quality" that those $$ are buying.

Same old story......Buyer Beware...

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Sorry Kip, gonna have to disagree. Walmart has, what is essentially, a monopoly and they are using the power of that monopoly to drive the market and society to an unsustainable end. That's not the only evil in the world or the worst evil but it's certainly one of them.

Edited by seeker
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Here's an interesting tidbit on the Walmart effect.

http://www.fastcompany.com/47593/wal-mart-you-dont-know

Thanks for posting that J.O. - it was going to be my next posting in the thread but you beat me to it. Excellent description of how it all goes down. Several examples of proud, responsible and respected companies chewed up and spit out by WallyWorld.

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He-said / she-said. It's all just re-arranging the deck chairs and those crying iceberg, iceberg are dismissed. Sustaining ten billion consuming units which extract from and expell into a limited natural system in which life evolved and which is temporarily congenial to our peculiar species, is an experiment, not a grand design.

The trade is in sustainability, not in quality of goods.

This argument dances on the head of a pin.

Don

Edited by Don Hudson
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Hi Malcolm;

Interesting article, thanks. I like Ezra Klein's work - very bright guy & sharp analyst - more objective, (favoring neither the right nor left) than many. Klein ends with a request for his readers to drop him a line if they know of any research on the "Wal-Mart" effect. The question, (is Wal-Mart "good" or "bad") depends, like every statement of "fact", upon context. If you're a shareholder, it's good. If you're a supplier trying to compete, maybe not so good but "that's life". The range of difficulty in answering the question is as broad as the answers themselves - some might say that the question is easy to answer but what they would have to say wouldn't make investors happy, not that they care.

Edited by Don Hudson
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Well, to me it's simple; the western consumer driven lifestyle is greedy, wasteful and is not sustainable. Is there anyone who could disagree with this? There are obviously many causes for the shift toward this lifestyle but one of the biggest, IMO of course, is Walmart. I'm not going to repeat all the arguments in the linked articles but I think it's safe to say that the scope and depth of Malwart's influence on the market and on all of us sets it apart from all the other retailers.

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Hi Malcolm - yes, that I do know, and that is why I deleted the last part ;-) Some of the stuff I post I offer as an amateur (albeit serious though not very well-read) philosopher and so wouldn't necessarily characterize some observations as "my beliefs". It is unfair to post at cross-purposes I think. My original post was meant to convey the notion that arguing for or against the value of a "Wal-Mart" or a ______, is pointless when the activity of boundless, insatiable consumption through the extraction of increasingly-limited resources and treating that which isn't private property such as the atmosphere and the oceans as a garbage dump are not only sanctioned by our economic system but we fight wars over the right to do this to our home planet.

There is no "history" to learn from to avoid the "mistakes of the past", so to speak. There is no time like ours to learn from now. The Cold War brought the first available means of nuclear self-destruction.

The creation of a non-congenial environment in which our life-form cannot flourish, is a brand-new possibility. Our economy prevents us from seeing and examining this question or even asking it.

While not sexy and largely but not exclusively dismissed here as irrelevant to the larger conversation concerning our survival on an increasingly-limited planet, I still and unsurprisingly choose to believe those who suggest caution and curiosity over abject denial when it comes to environmental issues and find that where the question is closed and decided, there are special interests at work which do not have the pressures of personal or corporate accountability placed on their collective shoulders by those not yet born.

Of course it is folly to "blame it on Wal-Mart". Wal-Mart is us.

The tragic thing is, I think, is that the arguments here all make complete sense both for and against, within the economic system we are familiar with. What isn't connecting however, is "our" economic system with nature's economic system, which, of course, is entirely and utterly indifferent to us, our concerns and our survival. In nature's "economy" we all are as dispensible as third world workers are to our western economy and I know which system is bigger.

The arguments are understandable but are largely irrelevant because our ability to choose a future has largely been pre-empted by economic thinking where unlimited growth does not and is not required to account for unlimited extraction and unlimited pollution in its balance sheet, which means we are handing over such inevitable accounting to unknown natural forces which we continue to deny in favour of sustaining "Wal-Mart", etc.

The arguments are truly dancing on the head of a pin. That is what I meant in all this. But this too will be dismissed as so much greeny left-wing thinking and the scientists lie, right?

It's our children's children2 we're looking out for, no?

Don

Edited by Don Hudson
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This song is almost 20 years old but it's even more relevant today.

Take It Back

Lyrics by David Gilmour

Her love rains down on me easy as the breeze

I listen to her breathing it sounds like the waves on the sea

I was thinking all about her, burning with rage and desire

We were spinning into darkness; the earth was on fire

She could take it back, she might take it back someday

So I spy on her, I lie to her, I make promises I cannot keep

Then I hear her laughter rising, rising from the deep

And I make her prove her love for me, I take all that I can take

And I push her to the limit to see if she will break

She might take it back, she could take it back some day

Now I have seen the warnings, screaming from all sides

It's easy to ignore them and God knows I've tried

All this temptation, it turned my faith to lies

Until I couldn't see the danger or hear the rising tide

She can take it back, she will take it back some day

She can take it back, she will take it back some day

She can take it back, she will take it back some day

Edited by J.O.
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I replace my TV every 10 years or so. so way above the average. I buy the best mst reliable one I can so it lasts longer. I buy my clothes somewhere where I can buy Quality even though I may pay a bit more but usually I pay less. As I said above I buy my jeans at Bass Pro Shop and they are the best jeans i have ever owned. Whenever I make a large purchase it is preceeded by ALOT of research to discover the best and most reliable product to fulfill my need (or sometimes want). I NEVER buy clothes at wal mart or most other "BigBox" stores. I aslo rarely buy at Big department stores like sears and the bay as alot of their product can be of similar quality to Wal Mart but under a different label.

Having said that there are several Apple products in the house, all of which were made in China and oddly shipped direct from Shanghai. Their build quality is excellent and I have no complaints. I have also purchased Chinese knock offs from the internet and been met with less than stellar products but also some very good products as well.

Essentially the Quality of the products is determined by the IMPORTER (Wal Mart) and lower quality parts means cheaper. Future Shop also sells NAME BRAND TVs that are built to their specifications to sell cheap. These versions are only available at Future Shop and are made with lower quality components and have lower reliability. This is why reasearching the product is important.

Know your product then purchase it at the best retailer.

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J.O.

I remember in my practice-teaching days in New Westminster (Grade 5), while attending SFU, giving the lessons on "pollution" in 1969. In our science textbooks, "conservation" was always at the end of the book and "what's potash used for" sections were always in the middle and the scientific method at the beginning. At least they had that right. I showed pictures of smoke stacks and dead fish and we talked about car exhaust and did projects about neighbourhood sources of pollution. The kids are now mature adults, perhaps some with grandchildren, (it's wonderful to hear from a few once in a while, right, T.?), and I often wonder about the impact of "lessons" created first by the educational system of the day and their impact on behaviour, and more critically, how they were "naturally" biased towards our economy's values, (because that's what society "needed"). I think such biases would be invisible today only because today's "consume" message is so very powerful and so in our faces every waking moment that it would drown out the little, gentle messages that consuming was good for everyone and the economy, (which it undeniably was and is).

The pattern that connects consumption with pollution was never taught and was practically unknown fourty-five years ago. Today it is extremely well understood which is why we never hear of it from those in private or public power and why the message is portrayed as coming from the whacko lefty greens.

Pink Floyd was way ahead of its time.

Edited by Don Hudson
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I realize it is. Though a very specialized one. Still these jeans are the best ones I have ever owned. I have never looked to see where they are made.

I will be the first to admit that if the specific product I sm seeking is available cheapest anywhere. That is where I will buy iy it. For electronics or audio equipment I usually end up in a specialty store because the big stores dont carry what I want. Tvs are different as the best buys of the world carry kost of them

Edited by boestar
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st27;

In a nutshell, that IS the truth, but of course not the whole truth. It's a cartoon so it is over-simplified and doesn't permit consideration of the benefits, even of these economic structures. As always, it's complicated!

The "offset" if that's the term we can apply to people's lives is that generally, people's standard of living is the highest it has ever been in the history of mankind. More people live longer, healthier lives and understand more about their world then ever before in history. The world is sustaining ten billion people when most thought it could fail to do so with 3 billion. There is some notion of betterment of more people's lives in that understanding.

Now, "understanding" itself, is a human trait that is never innocent. How we actually understand something is a different matter than "knowing" something - one can understand something in many ways and therefore make assumptions in accordance with that understanding. If we understand the world as a place created for and given to man for his singular use and "progress" was understood as the maximum use of everything in the world, different assumptions are made and different outcomes occur than if our understanding of the world was that it is a uniquely-placed piece of rock in an otherwise indifferent universe that is congenial to our particular kind of life of which there is no other example in the known universe.

It's kind of like a two-year-old child who is given a hammer. Most everything within the child's reach is immediately viewed as a "nail" and not Mom's favourite vase or table.

Thanks for the link.

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st27;

In a nutshell, that IS the truth, but of course not the whole truth. It's a cartoon so it is over-simplified and doesn't permit consideration of the benefits, even of these economic structures. As always, it's complicated!

The "offset" if that's the term we can apply to people's lives is that generally, people's standard of living is the highest it has ever been in the history of mankind. More people live longer, healthier lives and understand more about their world then ever before in history. The world is sustaining ten billion people when most thought it could fail to do so with 3 billion. There is some notion of betterment of more people's lives in that understanding.

Now, "understanding" itself, is a human trait that is never innocent. How we actually understand something is a different matter than "knowing" something - one can understand something in many ways and therefore make assumptions in accordance with that understanding. If we understand the world as a place created for and given to man for his singular use and "progress" was understood as the maximum use of everything in the world, different assumptions are made and different outcomes occur than if our understanding of the world was that it is a uniquely-placed piece of rock in an otherwise indifferent universe that is congenial to our particular kind of life of which there is no other example in the known universe.

It's kind of like a two-year-old child who is given a hammer. Most everything within the child's reach is immediately viewed as a "nail" and not Mom's favourite vase or table.

Thanks for the link.

...and then D H comes along to add both humour and hope, with his inclusion of other, non-human "people" in his use of "ten billion people".

Thanks for that Don, I won't ask which other beasts you're including to account for those extra 3 billion. ....Please just allow me to leave that to my imagination, so I can agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment (well, almost... I might have included another few hundred million dogs?). ;)

....even if it does contradict your other statement about "no other example in the known universe" ... :biggrin2:

I've often wondered why we wouldn't include some other creatures of Terrestrial origin in our ideas of other examples of "people" in the universe... Why do we think our brand of communication and/or lifestyle is any better - or supreme? - than any of several marine mammals, for instance? If we found a planet populated by whales, would we exploit them? Would we consider them "inferior"? ...what then if we found (somehow?) they'd been there a million (or a billion? -why not?) years longer than us? Are they still inferior? How about a planet full of all the same critters who live here, but without anything like us? Would we move right on in and treat them all as we treat them here? .... so many questions.... :unsure:

I think I'm going down rabbit trails there, but you get the idea. :)

Cheers,

Mitch

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Mitch, you asked would we exploit them, sadly based on past and present human nature, the answer would be "if they are weaker, yes we would exploit them"

If that's so, Malcolm, then I think it's a good thing that our population goes extinct. However, for now, I'll hang on to some hope that you may be wrong about that.

the next question is "what if they were stronger than us" would they exploit us.... ??????????

I obviously can't answer that, but I'd sure like to think not. My hope is that any species that's been around long enough to have even the desire to communicate with other worlds, would have also developed some peaceful philosophies and compassion....? I think Borg are possible though?

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Mitch...brought a smile to my face! Just making room for your dogs... ;-)

Re, "I've often wondered why we wouldn't include some other creatures of Terrestrial origin in our ideas of other examples of "people" in the universe... Why do we think our brand of communication and/or lifestyle is any better - or supreme? - than any of several marine mammals, for instance?"

I think one "explanation" (and there are others!), might be the notion I gently drifted out in the post above about "understanding" not being innocent. If we understand strange people that live in pointed houses covered in animal skin and that kill buffalo as "savages" and not an intelligent, cultured people, we can (and did) dispense with them in the name of "progress". Though extremely simplistic, from one point of understanding of history, that is the story of the American Indian population and their culture. Our understanding of the animal and plant kingdom is largely though not exclusively informed by the 19th Century notions of religion and man's supremacy - that "progress" meant we were at the pinnacle of life and the manifestation of that perfection which nature and god intended. Those notions are a particular understanding of the universe and they differentiate the plant and animal kingdom from mankind in a way that coincides with the industrial revolution - the two are somewhat in harmony.

Buddhism on the other hand, understands life in an entirely different way. Not only are the flora and fauna of earth "alive" but so are the rocks, mountains, streams and oceans "alive", not in the usual western intrumental understanding of "sentient beings" but as processes which exist as opposed to not existing and which have their own unique nature, entirely separate from and independent of "us". We are entirely unnecessary for earth's existence, but earth is congenial for us, so far.

For a westerner this is really tough to think about and "understand" !, but it is a way of understanding the world and the trillions of "people" that live on it! :Grin-Nod:

True competition (to the death) in nature is extremely rare. Symbiosis / synergy is far more common, which comes close to guaranteeing the survival of everyone. There aren't many examples of fouling one's nest so seriously that the health of the community is affected. If we modelled our economic activities after nature, we would likely all, (in the words of...) "prosper". But we have a deeply territorial nature sitting at the seat of our triune brain, which not only applies to our physically-occupied space but to our intellectual, perceptual and emotional space), and guard it, sometimes viciously and without limitation. That is the part of the "experiment", (even though nature doesn't "experiment", nature is either congenial for living things or they emerge and just as quickly extinquish, unremarkably, until some archaeolobot comes along!), which outcome is yet to be determined.

Only slightly off-topic, there is a really interesting little book by Peter Berger entitled, "Invitation to Sociology". While intended as an "introduction" and is used in first-year university courses, it is remarkable little book because, (in 1963!) it began the discussion on the "social construction of reality", a brand new field at the time, (which was also being examined philosophically...way beyond what I could understand!). In this book one finds one's notions of the world turned a little, perhaps even upside down or inside-out, just as though one had put on new glasses to see old things freshly. It is both enlightening and for those who like a steady, unshifting ground from which to view the world, a bit disturbing because it does what sociology does - it examines the fundamental underpinnings of our daily institutions, but in a very interesting, and positive manner.

For me it is all living because there are no other examples of twigs, jellyfish, humans, pterodactyls and yes, dogs, anywhere else in the known universe. My +3-billion may have been that and I didn't even know it, (but it should have been trillions)!

Cheers,

Don

PS - I'm still reflecting on that delightful paper you recently provided the link to on quantum realities and concurrent / co-existing worlds.

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