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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Fining the Yellow Happy Face

Recently I heard a rumor that Wal-mart executives have been, and plan to give big bucks to Democratic candidates for all types of office. Let's call it the "Bribery Factor" and they hope that no one is immune to it.

Although the lion's share of the loot still flows to the Right-Side of the aisle, one can't help but notice that there seems to be some real money coming into Democratic coffers as well. On the low end, Barack Obama's campaign has taken in $1,452 from only three Wal-Mart employees. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has gained almost $7,000 ($6,850) from a mere five Wal-Mart employees, with Subrahmmanyam Tummala, listed as a Wal-Mart Pharmacist, giving Senator Clinton $4,600. Only one donation came from a listed lobbyist - James R. Bailey of Arlington, Virginia gave $250 to the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) in 2006. In contrast, over $10,000 was given to the RNC (the Republican National Committee) and almost $30,000 was given to the RCCC (the Republican version of the DCCC) $25,000 of it was donated by Mr S.R. Walton. (stats from opensecrets.org, 2006-2008 campaign cycles)

I wonder if he's related.

Maybe the RNC could buy a new email server with that money and begin turning over what has been subpoenaed.

But that's just naming names. What has Wal-Mart been given for their hard-earned contributions, one might ask? (Go on - ask.) For one thing, they've been given a license to treat their workers as commodities instead of people. And we all know what can happen when employers aren't governed when the Government of Big Business always seems to side with their benefactors. So today's news out of California was good to hear.

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $3.9 million to about 50,000 of their employees for, among other things, underpaid overtime and other wages they tried to steal from those low on the Smiley Face totem pole. That comes out to about $780 per person and those persons are those hourly workers we hear so much about. They are the people who open the store, close the store, stock the shelves and work when most of us are sleeping and they have been mistreated. But we all know that already.

"This is a matter we discovered and reported ... and the situation has been corrected. Everyone who was owed money is being paid with interest and we have added safeguards so that these errors don't happen again."
-Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley

I have a better idea than allowing Wal-Mart to police themselves, as Mr. Smiley suggests. Unions. Does anyone think that Wal-Mart could have gotten away with under-paying their employees had there been a Union involved? This "oversight" by America's retailer occurred between 2002 and 2007. You'd think that someone would have come out a little bit sooner over a period of six years. Well I guess four years of attempting to cover it up had to come first.

The thing is that $3.9 million (with an "m") to a giant like Wal-Mart wouldn't be a lot of money, especially when their employees actually earned it. After all, you'd think that they make that much before Mr. S.R. Walton even gets out of bed in the morning. But it does go with what appears to be their corporate philosophy.

It was just a few years ago in California when a Wal-Mart store tried to force employees to work through their break time. It seems that the Golden State has this law on the books that require full-time employees in that state to get some time to win down, without pay. Wal-Mart thought that this half-hour should have been a freebie for them and forced their employees to work through it. The California Labor Department put an end to that.

It's no wonder why many places in the US have opted out of allowing Wal-Mart a place in their towns. Of course, when they move into a nearby town, all of the surrounding towns suffer with the loss of small businesses and jobs, but that's just the price of doing "Big Box Business", isn't it?

Although Wal-Mart is paying that sum to their employees for more than suspicious activities, the State's Labor Commissioner, Angela Bradstreet, thinks that they're doing one heck-of-a-job.

Wal-Mart had "set a positive example for other employers who may be out of compliance because it illustrates how they can work with us to properly compensate workers as well as meet legal requirements."

I guess Wal-Mart touches all Republican administrations. By the way, the state gets $198,000 for their troubles as well.

But I wonder what would have been the penalty had Wal-Mart not "come forward" or not have "complied. Would someone have been arrested? would they have shut down the stores? Doubtful. But this illustrated better than any other example the need for Unions and representation of the American worker.

maybe somebody ought to say something.

-Noah Greenberg

A Question

So now that Bush's brain MC Rove is gone, has the Lame Duck President turned into a Lame Brain?

-Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg