retail economy

I lost the remote to the Apple TV. Dang!

I dug around for it a while last night, to no avail. It is legitimately Lost with a capital L. I’m sure I’ll find it sooner or later. But I got some good use out of it while the remote was available; the last thing I watched on the tube before this technological setback was Dredd, which is the latest take on the long-running British comic Judge Dredd. It is really violent, which might not, you know, float your boat. But if that’s not a problem for you, I recommend it. As far as violent, comic book-based action movies go, you could do a whole lot worse.

But the reason I bring Dredd up is to mention its slick soundtrack, and specifically its use of a Justin Bieber song that’s been slowed way, way down. I first listened to Bieber’s original track, U Smile, for context, but you can skip over that terrible bullshit and just listen to this for a wonderful, ethereal 35 minutes. I would pay good money to see Justin Bieber perform this to an arena full of screaming teenage girls. Yes sir, I would.


I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about Walmart. I’m not an economist, but I participate in the economy. So I figure that’s reason enough to have an opinion on the subject of Walmart’s impact upon it. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Calling Walmart a terrible company is too lazy and broad. And that’s not specifically what I think anyway; what I think is Walmart is a fact of life — it’s something that plays a significant part of the daily lives of millions of Americans, whether they’re employees, customers, or Waltons (three in the top ten!). It has perfected a retail system that has in turn pioneered an ease of consumption in America the likes of which the world has never seen. It’s so easy to buy cheap shit at Walmart. It’s so, goddamn, easy, and whether you think this is ultimately a good thing or not for everyone depends on your understanding of the economy.

But the world certainly feels it, whether it agrees or not. By annual revenue, Walmart is the largest company in the country. It made $16 billion in profit last year. And it does this by squeezing the shit out of every supplier in its orbit. Want a higher price for whatever sprockets you’ve got for sale? Take them to another retailer with 8500 shopping centers, because Walmart only buys low. Still, for its employees, that’s not an option. They get the squeeze as well — the vast majority of them earn next to nothing — and that’s notable, especially because Walmart is the nation’s largest employer after the federal government.

Walmart got fat capitalizing on an economic mindset that encourages the pursuit of immediate low cost above all other considerations. But it’s hard to take advantage of all of the cheap shit at a big box retailer when nobody has a decent-paying goddamn job in the first place because Walmart chased all of them to overseas competitors who can pay their labor a pittance.

Anyway, I feel a rant coming on, so let’s stop here. In summary: Walmart is a fascinating bummer. It’s all much more eloquently stated in the opinion that ended up running, and you can read it here.


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  1. Jeff Dowd on

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