Wal-Mart is one of the largest retailing corporation in many nations, but there are many aspects of the company that are not shared with the general public. According to Sociology, Wal-Mart brings in more than 250 million people each week, they sell products made by more than 100,000 companies, purchase more than $18 billion worth of goods from China each year and employs 2.2 million people around the world. This essay will explore the topics of economic systems such as capitalism and socialism, how Wal-Mart affects the economy, people and society, as well as how these issues can be resolved.
In the film Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, it examines the lives of Wal-Mart employees and the struggles that they have experienced. The film also included family businesses that were run out of business because of large corporations such as Wal-Mart. The idea that a corporation comes into small towns where there are a lot of privately owned companies and their goal is to slowly run each one out of business, is something that many people truly believe Wal-Mart wants to do. You can clearly see in the very beginning of the film that there are problems with Wal-Mart and how it operates. There are people that have worked there for over 10 years, that were not compensated in ways that they should have been nor are they able to move up in the company by obtaining a higher paying position.
As the United States continuing to live in the Post-Industrial or the Information Revolution, it is changing the way that we receive our goods and services. We are no longer purchasing and using things made in the United States, but from overseas. Our jobs are requiring us to be versed with literary skills as well as computer and technical skills. This is not only changing our society and how we work, but the way that the economy brings in money. This is just one of the many reasons a corporation like Wal-Mart can succeed in our world, but H&H Hardware, showcased in the film, closed two months after their local Wal-Mart opened.
The economy and states are also going to give more to a place that is going to make them more. This is explained by the sectors of economy, the US has now entered the tertiary sector, in which “85 percent of the U.S. labor force is in service work. (Macionis, 2016)” We no longer purchase things for our own economy, we are based on shipping things in and out as quickly and cheaply as possible. Also mentioned in (Macionis, 2016), “the most of the economic output of high-income countries, including the United States, is in the service sector. In short, the world’s poorest nations specialize in producing raw materials, and the richest nations specialize in the production of services.” Our economy is shifting to being more about how we can obtain the most money the fastest, rather than how can we do it most effectively.
The reasons stated above are why we are able to have mega businesses in our society. These are large collections of companies owned by a single corporation, which all have the same policies and principles. These businesses are becoming more popular which is destroying small family and privately owned businesses. That is one of the main focuses in this film, that Wal-Mart is not only creating these huge conglomerates, but also mistreating their employees. This relates to a topic explained in (Macionis, 2016), welfare capitalism, an economic and political system that combines a mostly market-based economy with extensive social welfare programs. Many people do not know that Wal-Mart employees do not have health insurance or even basic benefits. They are being underpaid to where they have to have government assistance to live. This alone shows that Wal-Mart is not looking to be a place for people to come and work for the rest of their lives, it is not meant to be a great community, their main goal is to continue to make as much money as possible in the cheapest way possible. Even if that means getting all the products from a different country.
Wal-Mart has become a company that many individuals feel is needed in our economy and society. This corporation makes it possible for low-income families to get the things for low prices that they would not otherwise be able to afford. Since the amount of individuals on government assistance is rising, then it is becoming harder and harder for families to live and eat. On the other hand, Wal-Mart has created a culture for their employees that does not match the way that they are perceived in the public eye. Their employees are many of those people making up the low-income families.
Though many believe that problems will be solved if Wal-Mart were taken away, it would not last long. If Wal-Mart was to leave our economy, we would see he decreases in their stock and for our trading with China, ultimately affecting our business with overseas. It would have millions of people all over the world out of work. Also, with Wal-Mart gone it would be a matter of time before another large corporation came in and started taking over. The idea of making as much money as you can in the quickest way possible, will forever be how people operate. Many wish that Wal-Mart would just disappear and they could have their small businesses back, but we are so far gone from that idea and learning to get back into making money that way.
- B. (2014, November 26). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXmnBbUjsPs
- Macionis, J. J. (2016). Sociology (16th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.