Sam's Dream Is Dead

Sam's Dream Is Dead

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Sam's Dream is Dead

Before April 5th, 1992, Wal Mart was world renowned as a prestigious company with very high morals, based upon values such as hard work, fairness for employees, supporting American goods, and providing a fair price for the consumer. On April 5th, 1992, Sam Walton, founder of Wal Mart, died of cancer. Soon after that, the cancer known as American big business took hold of Wal Mart, laying Sam Walton's dream to rest along side him. Wal Mart is now a tyrannical force of cover ups, unfair labor practices, scandals, and outright lies.
Wal-mart depicts itself as a company that is dedicated to its workers and the production of American goods, strictly following Sam's dream. Recently they have shifted from this position into a company that is only concerned with the bottom line, no matter the consequence to its employees, the surrounding communities, or the quality of life of the people that consume and produce goods they sell in their massive supercenters. The suspect business practices of Wal-Mart are artfully hidden behind smiling advertisements and publicity that often conceals operations that Wal-Mart carries out behind closed doors. Wal-Mart not only hurts the surrounding communities through unhealthy and unfair competition, rather, they destroy the lives of their workers and consumers by collecting every possible cent and exploiting their workers to an absurd extent.
In a recent advertisement, Wal-Mart focuses on three important "values" which it directly contradicts through its business practices. "Savings to customers, commitment to community, and opportunities for workers" are apart of "Sam's Dream," referring to Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. The ad seems to take an overt opposition to the film Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price by attempting to refute or publicly address and subsequently cover up the facts addressed in the movie. The ad also features the quote, "They say when a Wal-mart comes to town, it's like getting a pay raise" referring to the low prices and the savings of the customer as a result. Also, the Wal-Mart ads that every Wal-mart associate qualifies for healthcare benefits for only one dollar a day, while in reality, many employees are forced into social services for relief (New Pro-Wal-Mart Commercial).
Not only in the narration and words depicted on the screen, but the smiling faces and the positive environment of the workplace is Wal-Mart trying to relay a sort of content with being employed by the business.

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Employees are shown interacting positively, of course, with customers and how Wal-Mart is able to help with families trying to make ends meet by saving them, on average, over $2300 per year. Also, depictions of the communities surrounding Wal-Marts are shown with many happy and playful children, some even holding an over-sized check in efforts to show Wal-Mart being a compassionate company that gives back to communities, starting the fact that over $245 million dollars was given the past year (New Pro-Wal-Mart Commercial).
Many of the facts touted in this advertisement are in direct contradiction with the facts purported in the film in attempts at combating the negative light Wal-Mart has been shown in. In the film, it is stated that Wal-Mart drives down the wages made by local communities by almost 3 billion dollars a year. With further research, the film then reports that the actual figure is closer to 4.7 billion dollars per year in lost wages due to the construction of Wal-Mart in local communities (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price).
Also noted in the film is the cost of Wal-Mart to local public assistance agencies and the healthcare benefits that it claims to provide to its workers. The film states that the annual cost of Wal-Mart to taxpayers directly linked to it's workers not having health and other assistance programs is over 86 million dollars. The film then goes on to point out that Wal-Mart discredits this information by calling it a "union hit-piece." However, the film shows that Wal-Mart is aware of this information, posting a memo stating such facts as Wal-Mart being substantially above national averages (sometimes twice as much) in employee's dependency on public assistance programs and social relief. Wal-Mart is then shown to cost over $450 million dollars of taxpayers money to cover the lack of benefits and the dependency of children of Wal-Mart employees. For uninsured employees, it purported that it costs over $202 million of taxpayer's money.
One academic journal explores Wal Mart's healthcare practices further. In January of 2006, a bill was set into Maryland law in which companies with 10,000 or more employees must spend at least 8% of their payroll on healthcare, or contribute what they fall short on to Medicaid. Wal mart insisted otherwise, claming that the legislation was "a union orchestrated attempt to denigrate the company", further stating "In allowing a bad bill to become a bad law, the General Assembly took a giant step backward." Now, a similar bill is in place in more than 24 states (Grossman, 2).
Related to the healthcare benefits of Wal-Mart and the suspect practices therein, the film also presents states where the tyrant is located and the number of people who require social healthcare benefits. In almost every state, thousands of employees who addressed Wal-Mart as their main employer stated their dependency on Medicaid and other public programs. The film then goes on to state the overwhelming numbers of children and employees alike that dominate the social healthcare scene in states such as Florida and Georgia. Also, in Tennessee, almost 25% of Wal-Mart's employees are on TennCare and other programs. With all of these dependencies and the inherent costs, the film then states that the total cost to taxpayers as a direct result of Wal-Mart and the lack of benefits and mistreatment of its employees is over $420,000 a year (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price).
In 2005, Wal-Mart was ranked #2 on the Fortune 500 list with record sales of $312 billion and profits reaching $11.2 billion. Wal Mart was also America's largest employer, boasting 1.39 million workers. Because Wal Mart fails to ensure health care to over 40% of its employees, Wal-Mart ranks first in America with the largest total number of employees lacking company health care and remains the #1 abuser of government and taxpayer funded public health care, such as Medicaid, in 18 out of 19 states where data has been recorded (WakeUpWalMart.com).
With the healthcare system of Wal-Mart being in such a state, the film then asks what the direct cause of such horrendous figures is. The film then states that in a memo sent throughout corporate Wal-Mart headquarters to local business heads, managers were to keep the number of full time workers to a minimum and to try and keep as many workers as possible to a part-time status. The film informs that this was not in efforts to increase benefits for the full time workers and to keep those intact; rather, it was done to keep as many workers as possible ineligible for the healthcare benefits and the hours necessary to qualify. Also, it's stated that Wal-Mart changed the part-time/full-time hour schedule from the normal 28 hour full time work week to a 34 hour week. This, again, was supposedly done to keep as many employees as possible from attaining an eligible status for the healthcare system. Other barriers employees would have to cross to qualify for healthcare benefits includes the waiting period. Wal-Mart recently changed this system from a 90-day waiting period to a period of two years (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price).
Also suspect to employees and the wages and benefits, workers have recently sued Wal-Mart reporting scheduling mishaps and forcing employees to work off the clock. Multiple lawsuits have been filed with up to $150 million in unpaid wages to workers. Courts in Massachusetts were also finding cases in a one-year period where Wal-Mart was found to have erased 7000 separate time slots including lunch breaks and hours from employees timecards. Lawsuits against Wal-Mart have now grown to an almost epidemic level as complaints have been filed in 31 different states (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price).
The aforementioned advertisement is a perfect example of just how easily massive corporations can directly provide false information to the public. We, as Americans, are obligated to be informed and critical of the information set before us. Our American born freedom is based exclusively on our ability to interpret injustices and act upon them as needed. Wal Mart is an oppressive force, and as Martin Luther King so eloquently wrote in a dusty jail in Birmingham Alabama, "Oppressed people can not remain oppressed forever" (39).

Works cited

Grossman, Andrew. "Wal-Mart to Pay Fair Share." Multinational Monitor Jan/Feb 2006 Vol. 27 Issue 1. Academic Search Premier.


King, Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. Citizenship, Responsibility, and Community. University of Kentucky Writing Program. Pearson 2005-2006.

"New Pro-Wal-Mart Commercial." YouTube. January 9th, 2007. Accessed February 15th 2007.
< http://youtube.com/watch?v=iBA5qjlt3Ow>

WakeUpWalMart.com. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union 2005.
< http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/research/ > America Pays, Wal-Mart Saves.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Dir. Robert Greenwald. Brave New Films 2005.
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