I’m not up to, or qualified, to take apart today’s Trump controversy. Don Lemon did a solid-or-better job of that on live TV last night.
To keep another controversy from going more under the radar, I’ll take apart the Walmart one instead.
Walmart’s predatory business practices are a matter of open record.
Their business model is famously old-school monopoly – move into town, undercut the prices of every non-multinational competitor, wait until competitors go out of business, become the only game in town. Then use an unspeakable amount of leverage against political opponents, competitors, suppliers, and employees.
Relatedly, they view the notion of unions as so toxic that they have closed a store in response to employees unionizing. That story is from the early 2000s, but presumably, they are still willing to do this.
I did literally 30 seconds of research for those links; you’re free to do more if you’re seeking to learn more.
I don’t know the history of such things, but this blog is very possibly going to be on a list of agitators on a Walmart ‘public relations’ spreadsheet as a result of this post. Because it would be easy enough to set up a program to do something like that, and why wouldn’t they go that far?
I mean. This happened:
In March 2005, Walmart executive Tom Coughlin was forced to resign from its Board of Directors, facing charges of embezzlement. Coughlin said that the money was used for an anti-union project involving cash bribes paid to employees of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in exchange for a list of names of Walmart employees that had signed union cards. He also said that the money was unofficially paid to him, by Walmart, as compensation for his anti-union efforts.In August 2006, Coughlin pleaded guilty to stealing money, merchandise, and gift cards from Walmart, but avoided prison time due to his poor health. He was sentenced to five years probation and required to pay a $50,000 fine and $411,000 in restitution to Walmart and the Internal Revenue Service. A United States attorney has stated that no evidence was found to back up Coughlin’s initial claims, and Walmart continues to deny the existence of the anti-union program, though Coughlin himself apparently restated those claims to reporters after his conviction.
I can’t say if the guy’s allegation is true. But, IMO, it smells true.
More importantly: it should not be something that is remotely plausible, and that it is plausible implies that Walmart does pretty much everything it can to fight against ‘opposition forces’.
Today we are hearing that the Walmart corporation decided to balance the bad PR of closing stores with the good PR of announcing tax-cut bonuses and a higher minimum wage. And it is doing so by closing a branch of its stores, and leaving thousands of people unemployed, without notice.
I’m writing this because it’s important to highlight the game that is fairly obvious to most news-focused people, and less obvious to most other people.
In short, Walmart is marketing itself to Republicans and their sympathizers as “the good brand”.
Walmart is associating themselves with the tax cuts that are basically only popular with Trump supporters. Because the ‘tax cuts increase revenue’ hustle that dates back to a 40-year-old fantasy from a cocktail napkin has finally grown stale to the rest of us.
Republicans, as a collective, will visit their news sources, hear little to nothing negative about Walmart, and pay less attention to future criticisms of the tax cuts, because ‘what about Walmart’.
There is also a ‘moderate’ and/or ‘independent’ faction of people – more broadly, those who want to not hate the Republican Party – who will lose track of how to feel about Walmart because of the widespread headlines about a minimum wage increase. This also serves to cloud their feelings about the tax cuts, and reinforce the supply-side economics myth that is, to keep it brief, demonic worship.
And, though this might have been an overreach by Walmart, there will be a lot less aggressive coverage of their store closings in the most popular national news sources for at least a little while. Better coverage than there would have been if they had closed the stores humanely, i.e., with notice.
(Oh – and this explains why there have been happily multicultural (as in, choose English-language or Chinese-language) Walmart delivery ads on Hulu for weeks or months now, as they angle to compete against Amazon.)
In conclusion: Walmart is actively the Evil Empire.