Monday, April 20, 2015

What is the Bigger Picture?

Walmart has plumbing problems . . . or so we've been told.  Plumbing problems that will take six months to resolve, in five different locations?  Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?  Plumbing problems in business usually amount to a sign that says "Out of Order" and "Sorry for the Inconvenience."  Then a plumber is called and the problem is resolved, usually in a very short time.  If the problem is outrageously huge, like a complete collapse of infrastructure, a short term closing might be necessary.  Seriously though, in five locations, simultaneously?  Those big Supercenters go from the ground up in about that same amount of time.

Another interesting article gave a time frame of about six months clearly describing a great deal of work to be accomplished by Wal-Mart in Florida a couple of years ago.  The article was dated in June, stating the construction had just begun and the grand opening was slated for January.  According to a 2010 article in Business Insider, Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the US and in 25 states, which raises serious concern about the five closings while giving no notice.  Not only will this cause a serious problem for the regular shoppers, but what about all the suddenly unemployed?  The economy of most cities with a WalMart are dependent upon that perpetual motion, not only for employment, but a source of revenue for the city and state in taxes.

Following an EF5 tornado in Joplin on May 22, 2011, Wal-Mart had completely removed what was still standing, and rebuilt a new store on the same site, literally from the ground up with the grand opening, November 9 of that same year.  A situation that was completely unexpected, resulted in a brand new store in less than six months.  I realize I'm no engineer, but I simply do not understand how a planned "repair" could take longer than cleaning up the destruction and completely rebuilding.

The Walton family seems more focused on their profits than to lose the amount of potential income indicated. Upon reading some of the reports of charitable donations by Wal-Mart "foundations" compared to others, Wal-Mart doesn't exactly rank near the top of philanthropic organizations. When WalMart moves in, mom and pop operations collapse.  Much of of a town's economy revolves around Wal-Mart.  Five closed stores may not be huge in the overall corporation, but the potential loss of five stores for six months has to be staggering.  I'm relatively sure I won't see that amount go through my checkbook in a lifetime.  I don't believe for a moment there isn't some sort of government subsidy involved in these closings.

The WalMart parking lot is always bustling when I go by.  I can't imagine how desolate those five parking lots must look.  What about the employees?  WalMart used to be where folks went for employment when the factories shuttered . . . Now the factories are gone, the mom and pop operations are gone, and for at least six months, five towns no longer have what the majority of the citizens counted on.  Some would say this is simply a corporate decision and really nobody's business.  Although I have not patronized a Wal-Mart in over a decade, I do believe reduced availability of food and a rise in unemployment is the business of others.  The presence of a WalMart in any given town, quickly reduced the shopping and employment options.  Once the options have been eliminated, even the "short term" absence of WalMart will impact the community.

Now that I think about it, the WalMart in the neighboring community went from the photo here on the left to the photo below without closing or even any serious change of hours.  It did appear to have some parking restrictions through the refurbishing period, but other than that, it was business as usual.  

To be honest, I'm vacillating between connecting the dots between Wal-Mart closings and Operation Jade Helm to wondering if this is merely a distraction for something even bigger behind the scenes.  Then my head reaches the point of near explosion when I wonder if it's a combination of all of that!  The idea of big empty buildings with "would be" plumbing projects going while some sort of "mock drill" is in place does make one wonder just a little, if "government housing" is about to be redefined.

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:  a Proverb of Holy Scripture

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