The economic melancholia of post-Bush Recession America, with its falling real income beckoning us back to the Stone Age, almost seems like a good thing, if it means that Wal-Mart will lose money.  And that apparently is the case, according to a leaked memo obtained by Bloomberg News.  The internal memo indicates that the number of Wal-Mart shoppers has dropped precipitously over the last five months:  82 million fewer than last year.  That’s seven times the population of Greece, and as we all know from endless Tea Party talking points, Greece looms large in the conservative call for austerity über alles.

The reason for Wal-Mart’s declining fortunes is identified in the memo, but hardly requires much analysis:  the further pauperization of low-wage Americans means even fewer of them can afford even the cheap, poorly made, lead-tainted products Wal-Mart peddles.  It’s almost scary to think: the memo admits that even poor people can’t afford Wal-Mart anymore.  “Save Money – Starve Better.”   

One imagines the trust-fund-raised brood of Sam Walton reconsidering their policies of adding more billions to their personal balance sheets by cutting back on workers’ benefits (the subject of another leaked Wal-Mart memo) and squeezing more and more margins out of sweatshop workers in the dark third-world mills that constitute Wal-Mart’s empire of cadmium and union-busting.   On second thought, they are probably incapable of such moral and economic self-reflection. 

But what is even more interesting than the obvious Keynesian point – suddenly discovered by Wal-Mart CFOs – that a falling tide scuttles all boats, even yachts, is the leak itself.  Wal-Mart is the leakiest company in America.  Its history of leaks includes memos about defeating worker protection laws (hire more part-time workers), to strategies for cutting workers’ health care benefits (hire more part-time workers), to failed improbable PR campaigns to “upscale,” to iPhone release dates.   In short, somebody in the Wal-Mart upper echelons, probably a lot of somebodies, enjoys seeing their own company squirm in public.  Surely most of Wal-Mart’s management have been assimilated into the Borg Collective and actually believe their own press releases that encouraging child labor in Pakistan is Good for the World™.   But the few normal people there must find Wal-Mart’s evil as conspicuous as a tarantula on Lady Gaga’s décolletage.   And they must be the leakers.

It is heartening to consider that even in the bleak landscape of Tea Party Occupied America, there still exists moral people who toss rusty spanners into the market evangelist clockwork.



Ms Peel
08/04/2011 13:00

I refuse to shop there. More reasons not to now.

Syzle Kid
08/04/2011 13:01

Maybe the people leaking the memos are actually fed up with Walmart destroying their local communities so that the Walton kids can make even more money they can't possibly spend in a lifetime

Saved By Zero
08/04/2011 13:03

While the economics of Wal-Mart make sense in the abstract, in practice the big box model hurts local communities and benefits a few very rich owners.

I hope this augurs the demise of that model. Hey, we can thank Bush and his recession. That's something.

Richard Mentark
08/04/2011 13:04

It would be the only thing we have to thank Bush for. The fact that the US is becoming so poor that people can't even shop Wal-Mart should give us pause

Oz Anders
08/04/2011 13:05

Nothing would make me happier than if Wal-mart dried up and blew away. I didn't see their profits actually declining much. But I guess that will follow if indeed people don't go there anymore.

Doctor Doctor
08/04/2011 13:06

Ford was right: if you don't pay your workers a decent wage, they can't buy your product.

Walmart went off in exactly the wrong direction.

08/04/2011 13:07

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of billionaires who never worked a day in their lives.

Rose Gastin
08/04/2011 13:08

I didn't see the memo in the link. I'd love to read it to get its tenure.


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