You and I are of different generations – how obvious is that. What is less obvious is what it means to be of different generations. I am a baby-boomer, you are a nut case child of the seventies. Such is the case with labels. But the cultural influences and differences of our lives are real. Take Wal Mart for example.
Wal Mart is problematic for me. One the positive note, it is one-stop shopping. I like that. Their volume allows for lower prices. I like that. That is about as far as positive goes.
Wal Mart has become a subsidiary of China – or the other way around – I don’t know which. ‘All things China’ could be their motto – but that would not sell. They produce their own products – which allows for lower prices – but lends itself to predatory labor practices in developing countries. The company fights with their employees over benefits and constantly struggles with people trying to organize unions.
There is irony in employee pay. Henry Ford paid his employees well so they could buy the automobiles they were producing. Wal Mart has the exact opposite tact – they lower their prices so their low paid employees can shop there.
Aside from the moral implications, shopping at Wal Mart is not always easy. I mentioned one-stop shopping – but that means I park my truck one time, then I have to walk about ten miles to get my toothpaste, milk, and windshield washer fluid.
The phenomenon of multi-national corporations is not unique to Wal Mart. When I was young the local businesses were invested in the community. It was common to see the Officers of community corporations on social service boards – engaged in the problems of community. The new climate of Big Corporations has diminished the local investment – they spend money here to build and operate – but their profits are shipped out of the local community. Big companies have no concern for the local school district, local health care, or even the fire department. There is no profit in community investment.
The enigma of Wal Mart is that they offer low prices in one stop shopping – but the long term consequences can be disastrous. Here is the problem – when people are living from payday loan to payday loan – they don’t care much about long-term consequences.
Young people have the energy and ideology to pursue their moral and philosophical endeavors. Old people lapse into convenience.