In a hopeful and uplifting video explaining the voter rights brouhaha that swept our nation during the last couple of elections, President William Barber of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, observes, “Poor people can’t compete with the rich lobbyist, so they have to have access to the ballot in order to shape the balance of power.”
Amen to that.
Certainly that’s not unknown to most, if not all, of those who sit in our state legislatures, even outside of Dixie, and attempt to turn back the pages to the days of Jim Crow.
Today I ran across an old article, originally posted in 2010, 16 Facts About Walmart That Will Blow Your Mind by Ujala Sehgal on Business Insider. Actually, the piece was more slide show than article, but it succinctly explained some rather scary facts about this giant retailer. I thought I’d take this opportunity to go over some of the facts laid out in the article, with my own observations thrown in for good measure.
1. Walmart has more full-time employees — 2.1 million — than seven times the population of Iceland.
My first thought when I read this was about the irony of comparing any aspect of Iceland with Walmart.
Iceland was hit hard by the so-called “great recession” of 2007–2008. Prices on their local stock market dropped by 90 percent, inflation rose 18%, while unemployment increased by a factor of nine. Oh, at the same time all of the country’s biggest banks failed. However, Iceland has recovered nicely, not by bailing out the banks and leaving their private citizens to sink or swim. Instead, they concentrated their efforts on helping people get out from under crippling mortgages and prosecuted the bankers.
Guess what? It worked. According to Bloomberg their economy is now a shining example for the rest of us:
I remember when Americans were customers. We bought things because we wanted them or needed them. We would have laughed in the face of anyone with the audacity to suggest that it was our patriotic duty to consume, as Bush did after 9/11. If we were faithful to a brand, that faithfulness was brought about by value or product superiority. Companies worked hard to persuade us to become their customers, and they knew better than to insult us by assuming we were forced to use their products no matter what.
“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” – Thomas Jefferson
We live in a world that runs on a war based economy. Wars create jobs. When we have peace people find jobs scarce.
I first discovered this several years ago when a man at one of my screenings of Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Triumph of the Will, after hearing me speak, gave me a copy of Jerry Mander’s book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.
To hear the conservatives tell it, our economy will nosedive if the rich are required to pay an iota in taxes more than they do now. Indeed, we are led to understand the rich already pay more than their fair share, that their taxes need to be lowered so the middle class and the poor can shoulder more of the burden.
It’s understandable why folks under 30 might believe this argument. If the tax rate on the rich, defined by the Obama administration as those earning more than $250,000, is rolled back to nearly 40%, the rich just might not have the money to invest in businesses and create the jobs our country so badly needs. Never mind the fact that the rich aren’t investing in businesses and creating jobs anyway, even though the tax rate for high rollers is historically low.
Lincoln didn’t tell us the whole truth when he said, “…you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” What he didn’t say, perhaps because it didn’t occur to him, was that you can fool a majority of the people all of the time, especially in the age of television and now, the Internet. Unfortunately, a majority is all that matters in a democracy. Democratically speaking, four sane people and six psychotic sickos means rule by the insane. Governments in the United States have been operating on this principle for quite a while now.
Over the last six decades, since the onset of the post World War II economic boom and the beginning of television on a mass scale, we’ve become a nation in which six out of ten of us believes we can find happiness through owning things. We’ve become materialistic on a scale never before seen in human history. All of our inner turmoils are solvable through ownership. Happiness comes from purchasing a new car, a new set of clothes, or the newest most cutting edge technological item.