You know that old cliché saying that’s usually attributed to somebody’s grandpa? It goes something like this:
“Used to be people understood the value of a dollar.”
I’d like to update that saying a bit for our modern age. Try this on:
“It used to be people understood the value of, well, anything.”
Sadly that is not the case anymore. In our present culture of “more, better, cheaper”, no one appreciates the value of anything, and fewer and fewer things have value.
I call this the Wal-Mart effect, as I believe that Wal-Mart is the single greatest cause of our present predicament. Wal-Mart’s present day slogan is “save money, live better” which sounds like a wonderfully down to earth concept on its face, until you actually stop to think of what it actually means. When you do you’ll have a hard time calling that slogan disingenuous. Such a term will seem to kind.
In order for you to save money at Wal-Mart, you have to be willing to support a behemoth organization that uses and abuses it’s employees. They are paid minimum wage across the board, which amounts to around 9 dollars and hour in most of Canada and an even more disgusting $7.25 in most of the USA. A fulltime Canadian Wal-Mart employee can expect to make around $1440 per month, before taxes. After taxes they might take home $1200 or so. Now the average rent for a shit hole in British Columbia, where I live, is around a thousand bucks a month, leaving your average Wal-Mart employee with a whopping $200 dollars left over to pay for everything else they have to pay for.
Not a pretty picture is it? And so Joe Blow Wal-Mart employee spends his remaining $200 dollars at Wal-Mart (that’s right, he gives it right back to the company that rapes him every day) and he saves some money, maybe, but he certainly doesn’t live better. Meanwhile the CEO of Wal-Mart, a giant douche named Michael Duke, makes $16,826.92 per hour. If you’re doing the math, you’ll note that that is considerably more than most Wal-Mart employees, in other words the ones that do all the hard work, make in an entire year. And while all this is going on, Wal-Mart continues to lobby for more tax cuts for the already super rich.
As for the slightly more fortunate among us, they may have been lucky enough not to have to work for Wal-Mart, but not so lucky as to have escaped it’s influence on our world, and their pay-cheques. Average household incomes have remained completely stagnant for the past 30 years, and yes, that does account for inflation. What isn’t mentioned is that those stagnant household incomes, which in 1980 were more often that not earned by one person, now more often than not reflect the combined income of two earners, perhaps because so many good full-time jobs have been lost, and replaced by crappy part-time positions.