Archive for the ‘Wal-Mart’ Category

No SC Sales Tax on Food

Monday, November 19th, 2007

No more SC sales tax on groceriesIt seems that there is a new tax law in South Carolina. The picture on the right shows a portion of the receipt my wife brought home from Wal-Mart this weekend. I was so shocked by the tax amount, or rather lack of tax, that I called the Wal-Mart store to ask if their registers were malfunctioning. The lady from the customer service center at the Goose Creek Wal-Mart enlightened me on a new tax law that removes the sales tax from our grocery bill.

This new tax code supposedly went into effect on November 1, 2007. Did it get buried on page 23 of section Q of the local paper? While I do not watch much TV, I would have expected to hear about this on the radio or maybe at work among the idle chatter. Is it possible that this tax cut came in so low under the local radar that no one even knows about it?

For a family that spends about $600 per month on groceries, this will help us to the tune of approximately $40 per month*. That is sweet. That is another date with my sweetie each month. If we share a “Tour of Italy” at Olive Garden and only drink water, we might even be able to squeeze out the sitter’s wages for a couple of hours. This tax savings will be put right back into the economy as far I our house is concerned. Thank you SC State Government!

*Note: Not all of our grocery budget is spent on unprepared food so the tax cut will only affect approximately 95% of our grocery budget. This sale tax change only applies to unprepared grocery items “that are eligible for purchase with US Department of Agriculture food coupons.” Source

Wal-Mart and Faith-Based Toys

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Wal-Mart’s move into toy action figures based on characters from Bible stories is likely a pure business decision and not because a senior executive got saved in church last Sunday. A story posted on USAToday.com tells of the retail giant’s move into a new line of toys in about 13% of its stores. The toys are distributed by one2believe.com. The web site URL for this company will redirect you to a Yahoo! online store with a URL of store.messengersoffaith.net where the company lists Focus on the Family and FamilyLife.com (a division of Campus Crusades for Christ) as partners.

Sadly enough, I think Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine has probably nailed the fate of this effort.

“Once children turn 4, parents tend to get them what they want. And right now, kids are asking for Transformers.”

I find it interesting that 4 year olds get turned on to characters from a PG-13 movie like Transformers, but that is a subject for another day. Anyway, I agree with Mr. Silver, it is transformers this week, it was Spider-man a couple of months ago, and it will be more Harry Potter dolls in the weeks and months to come. With the release of the most recent Harry Potter movie (also PG-13), next week’s release of the latest book, and the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, the magical world of Harry Potter will cast spells on millions of American families.  Many will be Christian families.

Many parents can plead ignorance to the words given to use from God through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6: 12-13.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

For those Christian parents who do read and study the Bible regularly, I do not understand how they can still endorse things like Harry Potter, Spider man, and Transformers for their children, especially the young ones.  My rule of thumb is: If I discern a program, book, or toy to be anywhere between morally neutral and glorifying to God, then I will consider investing in that item for my children. I know, the real issue for each Christian is where to draw the line on the morally neutral end? My answer: If you are having to ask then you are probably too close to the line. Many Christians are under a misconception that God put us on this planet for our own personal enjoyment. While I do believe good clean fun for us humans is a good thing in God’s eyes, we were put here to glorify Him and serve His wishes above our own happiness.

The point that I am trying to come to is to tie together the comments of another person quoted in the USAToday article.

“Laurie Schacht, president of The Toy Book, a toy industry publication, says some parents also are dissatisfied with toys from conventional toymakers: “There are a lot of wild things out there. Parents want to give kids wholesomeness.”"

This lady got close to my point of view on toys, but her wording is just a little, shall we say, worldly. In all fairness, she is likely referring to parents in general and not just Christian parents. I personally want to teach my kids holiness above happiness and wholesomeness. There are not many items on your average Wal-Mart toy isle shelf to help get that job done.

It will be interesting to see how these faith-based toys sell in Wal-Mart.   “Stores that sell a lot of Bibles will carry the new line,” says Melissa O’Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.  This line of thinking seems a little shallow and I hope they did not hinge too much of their marketing strategy on this one statistic.

WakeUpWalmart.com Plays the Jesse Jackson Card

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

WakeUpWalmart.com has the Reverend Jesse Jackson on their side now. Their web site has a feature page that states, “Leaders of faith representing over 1.3 million Americans have joined WakeUpWalMart.com…” The disturbing thing is that WakeUpWalmart.com has listed a copy of a letter that was reported to have been sent to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott quoting scripture. It was not enough that they built their latest TV ad starting with a picture of what appears to be an open Bible and then go on to quote Luke 6:31 before addressing people of faith about shopping at Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalmart.com continues to prey on the emotions of American Chrstians to further their selfish cause. I quote the letter to the Wal-Mart from the WakeUpWalmart.com web site:

“The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches ‘Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy … lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.’”

I have read Deuteronomy 25:13-15 in about a dozen different translations thanks to BibleGateway.com and my personal library of Bibles and other study materials. Here is one example:

“In all your transactions you must use accurate scales and honest measurements, so that you will have a long, good life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 25:13-15 TLB

I am certainly not a theologian, but I am not receiving anything near what these leaders of faith statement says when I read that scripture. I believe that this is another case of scripture being taken out of context. At least the letter that was supposedly written by a group of Baptist leaders of faith stripped out the scripture reference. You can read their version of the letter to Lee Scott in the comments of a blog post on WakeUpWalmart.com.

I found a post by La Shawn Barber where she went ballistic on Jesse Jackson for taking scripture way out of context in a posting titled Jesus was Liberal. That posting was done by La Shawn Barber back in August of 2004 and is well worth the time it takes to read it. I know that La Shawn Barber is not a big Wal-mart fan anymore after reading a post she did last month about a Wal-Mart immigration issue. The point of my story today is not to promote Wal-Mart, but to expose WakeUpWalmart.com for what I believe it is, and that is evil. They are using scripture to support their evil and greedy cause. I will use a bit of scripture to support my cause.

“Take no part in the worthless pleasures of evil and darkness, but instead, rebuke and expose them.” Ephesians 5: 11-12 TLB

Is mine out of context? I am not an Ephesian, but I try to read Paul’s letters as if he were writing to me.
The WakeUpWalmart.com web site does not add to their count of supports the 1.3 Million Americans who these leaders of faith supposedly represent. It has been four days since I reported that WakeUpWalmart.com was claiming to have 150,517 supports. This evening that number has eased up to 151.418. That is an average of approximately 225 new supporters per day since my last report. That is a slow growth given the WakeUpWalmart.com web site has been registered since 21 March 2005 and had seen an average of about 560 new supporters per day between 21 March and 13 December.

The root motivation of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union) via the WakeUpWalmart.com web site may be buried in point eight of their facts page. This fact points out the anti-union stance by Wal-Mart. You can read Wal-Mart’s side of the Wal-Mart Union as well. Ultimately it is up to the employees to decide whether they go union or not. It would be best for Walmart employees to continue to save their wages and not bother paying the UFCW any dues to do the fighting for them.

My experiences with a union left a bad taste in my mouth even though I never actually had to strike. Fortunately I left that union job before they went on strike for several months. Why do I feel fortunate? I will do the math on that one for you. Let’s say I was grossing $40K on that union job. A three month strike would cost me as much as $10K in lost gross wages if I was not able to find other work during the strike. Never mind the tiny stipend you get from your local union while on strike because it will barely buy a week’s groceries. Now let’s say the strike was over an issue that was worth approximately 10% of my gross income. That is a gain of $4k per year worth of benefits if the strike is successfully. That means I would have needed to work another 2.5 years just get back what I lost while on strike if the total 10% example came in pure cash compensation. What kind a deal is that when a contract is only three years and you are likely to repeat it all over again six months after recovering from the last strike if the last strike was only three months long and was successful? I do not wish that situation on anyone.

I hope you will pass a link to this story along to any of your friends who might attend one of the churches represented by these leaders of faith referred to on WakeUpWalmart.com. They are feeding an effort that I believe is rooted in evil. I do not believe that the intentions of WakeUpWalmart.com are anything other than greed and anger because the UFCW can not get their hand in the pockets of the 1.3 Million Wal-Mart employees in the US.

How much is all of this worth to a union who can get upwards of 1 million new members? Let’s do some conservative math to answer that question. Let’s say that a union charges each new member $25 per month in dues. That would be $25 MILLION per month in dues pouring into the UFCW. That is probably a realistic number given this example of how dues are collected in one local UFCW in Canada. The local in Canada reports that they collect one half hours pay every week plus one dollar per month per employee. That would be just about $25 per employee per month based on an average of $8 per hour in wages for Wal-Mart employees per WakeUpWalmart.com’s own reports. That would be $300 million dollars per year in increase cash flow for the USCW based on my numbers.

Statistics show (from the years of the Clinton administration) that unions are not necessarily the the best thing for workers. A brief from 1998 found on the NILRR (NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LABOR RELATIONS RESEARCH) web site says that Right-To-Work states have better numbers that forced union states. You can check out Answer.com to learn more about the term Right-To-Work.

I will leave you with one more interesting statistic. The UFCW Union has a reported 1.4 million members already, but they have only been able to round up support from just over 150,000 people to support the WakeUpWalmart.com cause.

The link to this article is:
http://www.hoei.com/blog/archive/2005/12/18/139/

The trackback uri is:
http://www.hoei.com/blog/archive/2005/12/18/139/trackback/

Boycott of Wal-Mart and Target

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

I am having second thoughts concerning my position on big retail stores like Target. I will continue to shop at Target and other stores like Wal-Mart who are also coming under fire these days for one reason or another. My beef with Target had to so their stance on using the word Christmas in their advertising along with their choice to not allow the Salvation Army to place bell ringers out in front of Target stores. You can read my original opinion Merry, Happy, Season’s Greetings from Target. I would rather just send them a Christmas card and request that they change their policy for next year.

I found a post on The Business of America is Business concerning a movement against Wal-Mart by WakeUpWalmart.com that got me to thinking. I don’t want my actions to cause an employee to lose their job because of the loss of business or realignment of company structure due to some big protest that I took part in.

Now I want to address this Wal-Mart issue. First of all I believe that the facts in this story are tweaked to meet the needs of the cause as with most statistics. For instance the WakeUpWalmart.com web site never tells states how many part-time employees are represented in 600,000 who have no health insurance. They also do not specify how many rejected health insurance because maybe they have veteran’s benefits that includes health care at no charge. The WakeUpWalmart.com web site shows a copyright reference at the bottom of their pages for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. They claim to have the support of 150,517 people world-wide as of this posting. That equals to less than 10% of the population of the workforce within Walmart based on numbers quoted right on the WakeUpWalmart.com site. The number of supports probably totals less than 50% of the number of Wal-Mart shoppers in my local area just to put it into perspective.

The real point here is not to defend Wal-Mart, Target, or any other of a number of major retailers that I am sure any one of us could dig up dirt on to start a campaign if we took a notion. My point is to remind each and every person who is considering a boycott of a retail chain to stop and think of the implications. WakeUpWalmart.com starts their big video campaign with a picture of what appears to be an open Bible and a reference to Luke 6:31 which says “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” according to the NIV on BibleGateway.com. What WakeUpWalmart.com is doing here is trying to play the self-proclaimed Christians against Walmart the company. They make it sound like you would help the poor employees, but what if things do not go as WakeUpWalmart.com wants? Have you considered your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who might be affected if Walmart gives in to the demands of this campaign in a little bit different way than WakeUpWalmart.com is asking?

Let me build a very simple scenario for you. Let’s say you live in a community where Wal-Mart is the largest employer. Never mind how that came to be, but just imagine a place where this is true. Now let’s say that Wal-Mart employs 200 people at that location where 50 are full-time and 150 are part-time. Now let’s say Wal-Mart decides to give health care benefits to more of their employees by making half of those 150 employees full-time. It is very likely at that point that some or even all of the remaining part-time employees will be laid off or have their hours reduced significantly. How do you feel about supporting a movement that could be responsible for ripping the financial rug out from under as many as 75 families in your local area?

This line of thinking is what made me reconsider my stance on big retailers this Christmas season. I am not sure what the underlying motive is for the WakeUpWalmart.com campaign, but I am sure that I don’t want to be a part of it. I have friends who work part-time at Walmart and other large retail stores. I do not want to be responsible for fueling a fight that could ultimately put them on the street. I am doing unto them as I would have them do unto me. I am sure that if my friends are that worried about the benefits or lack there of, then they will try to move to another job or take it up with their employer.

I know that Wal-Mart is a hot topic in a lot of communities. The bottom line is that Wal-Mart stores are a great asset to many communities even in places where they don’t like to admit it. These big stores are able to provide prices that small specialty stores would never be able to compete with in this day and time. Those lower prices also fuel my point. If Wal-Mart were to give in and raise prices a few percentage points then what harm would that do? Well, do you know anyone on a strict budget? I do and every single penny counts. So the idea of getting Wal-Mart to raise prices for all shoppers to help a group of part-time employees get health care benefits might hurt more people than it helps. A increase of a few pennies on each item could add up to someone not getting to eat a meal. Is that how you want others to do unto you? Do you want to see struggling families give up meals for this cause?