There is no need for these mistakes to be made! Disrespecting Wal-Mart is in fact almost too easy. Steve Gilliard gets it perfectly in his response to (behind the Times Select wall) columnist John Tierney:
Wal-Mart doesn't alliviate poverty, it spreads it like a virus.
How? In China and the developing world, it demands greater and greater price savings on factory owners, who have to use repressive methods to keep their employees. It's so bad, the Chinese government has allowed Wal Mart workers to unionize.
In the US, Wal Mart' s predatory pricing forced Rubbermaid to close, and forces other suppliers to ship work overseas to meet Wal Mart's pricing demands.
Every contract, Wal Mart demands greater savings from producers, demanding cost cutting. Most of the brand names sold in Wal Mart are substandard products with the same brand name. Snapper refused to sell to Wal Mart because of that practice.
Wal Mart's low wage policy is the worst in the retail industy, they spend more on commercials than actual health care for their workers. Certainly people in Chicago and Maryland didn't feel that Wal Mart was lifting people out of poverty, having passed bills concerning health care and wages.
See also Echidne of the Snakes, from which blog I got the Gilliard link. Rebutting Tierney's asinine, purely rhetorical question about whether Sam Walton has done more for poor people than recent Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Echidne says:
Wal-Mart makes its owners very rich, true. But it doesn't encourage the type of moral and spiritual growth in them as the microlending schemes do to their participants. Think about the way the poor have no collateral to offer for these loans, so the need for it is replaced by personal reputation and honor. And almost all loans are paid back! This is because the loans are evaluated in a group of locals who already have had microloans themselves, and the social knowledge, support and perhaps pressure, too, are used in place of money as a collateral. I can see problems in this system but compared to the traditional banking system those problems are nothing. It's important to remember that microlending schemes have largely helped women who have no access to traditional credit in most developing countries.
You can refer, over and over if need be, to the above two examples of how to criticize Wal-Mart without sounding like an elitist asshole. But what if life's got you down, things are crazy at work, the family's all up in your business, and you need just a quick, simple reference? Where's Bashing Wal-Mart for Dummies?
Well, one brain-dead person to another, and at the risk of sounding pompous, here's at least a chapter of Bashing Wal-Mart for Dummies. It's free and worth about as much. And you're welcome!
Chapter 5: Summing up What We've Learned as "Dos" and "Don'ts"
DO criticize Wal-Mart's morally repugnant labor practices.
Example: "I cannot believe Wal-Mart prevents its employees from working full-time just to save on benefits costs. That is despicable."
Example: "Did you see that on the news about Wal-Mart encouraging its employees to 'explore' public assistance? Welfare: It's not just for people without jobs anymore."
DON'T criticize Wal-Mart's employees.
Example: "Gag me; if I had to wear such a sad-ass uniform I would DIE."
Example: "WHY are these checkout people so SLOW? They get PAID, don't they?"
DO criticize Wal-Mart's soul-crushing ambience.
Example: "Why is every Wal-Mart even uglier than the last Wal-Mart I was in?"
Example: "Tell me why I shop here again. Is it the ugliness? Is there something mesmerizing to a very dark part of my soul about the ugliness?"
DON'T tell your fellow Wal-Mart shoppers how much better Target is (this goes double if you are James Lileks).
Example: "I mean, here they just throw everything everywhere, but at Target it's like organized."
Example: "Here it's all so grim and sterile, with blue accents. But in Target it's all grim and sterile with RED accents. And red is kind of a peppier color, don't you think?"
Example: "At least at Target they speak-a da English, you know? This is America."
DO mourn the deaths of "Mom-n-Pop" stores.
Example: "Right across from here, catty-corner like, used to be the best lil' camera shop."
DON'T blame the deaths of "Mom-n-Pop" stores on Wal-Mart shoppers.
Example: "I guess these yokels just don't care that my partner and I have nowhere to go antiquing anymore." (P.S.: No, they totally don't.)