The Left hates Wal-Mart but they’re OK with destroying Jobs and Industries to enjoy the things they Like

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

The left wants to raise the minimum wage.  They want to make companies pay salaried people overtime.  And they want to block Wal-Mart from entering their communities.  Because their many jobs destroy a few jobs.  And their lower prices and wider selection of goods makes it difficult for Mom and Pop stores to sell a more limited selection of goods at higher prices.

Yes, they care about the little guy.  And want the little guy to pay more for less at the local Mom and Pop stores the much richer more elite left can more easily afford.  Which they like to frequent because those higher prices, of course, keep out the riffraff.  For when it comes down to it the left likes to enjoy the things they like no matter how many jobs they destroy.  Such as in the music industry.  That went from the phonograph to the gramophone to vinyl to 8-track to compact cassette to CD to MP3 to subscription to download to streaming (see The times they are a-changin’ for the music business posted 3/21/2014 on The Economist).  And every step along the way entire industries were destroyed along with the jobs in that industry.

But this is okay.  This is creative destruction.  Where something new and better replaces something older and not as good.  A march of technology that makes our lives better.  As in the music industry.  As well as how cell phones destroyed the paid public phone industry.  How email and texting is destroying the United States Postal Service.  How digital cameras destroyed the film development industry.  How wireless internet and tablet computers have destroyed the news paper industry.  How smartphones destroyed the telephone book industry.  Etc.

Things are better with these new technologies.  And liberals love to use all of this technology as they sit sipping their espresso in their quaint coffee shops.  Having no problem with all the creative destruction that allows them to do so.  But let a Wal-Mart open up somewhere where people can hardly scrape by in life and they have a problem with that.  Because they don’t want a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood.  They want to keep it chic and unique and a little pricy.  So the elitists can enjoy their time without having to be around people they deem less desirable.  Like the shoppers at Wal-Mart.


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Wal-Mart is the new General Motors for the Middle Class

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

The left hates Wal-Mart.  Because they are nonunion.  And their low prices make it difficult for small mom & pop shops to stay in business charging their customers higher prices.  But being nonunion lets them hire more people.  And their low prices allow people to buy more with their paychecks.  Good things.  Yet the left hates Wal-Mart.  Because they would rather have union jobs even if it means fewer jobs.  And higher prices.  Despite Wal-Mart being the best thing for the middle class since General Motors (see Walmart and the middle class, sinking together by Rick Newman posted 2/21/2014 on Yahoo! Finance).

It was once General Motors (GM) whose fortunes reflected those of the middle-class Americans who bought its products. Now, that bellwether Goliath is Walmart (WMT)…

A chronically weak job market is pinching lower-income consumers — some of whom can’t even afford to shop at Walmart anymore.

The digital revolution has left Walmart at a disadvantage against etailers such as Amazon (AMZN), which has 7 times’ Walmart’s online revenue, and a much smaller physical footprint to manage.

With Walmart tied so closely to the fortunes lower-middle-class Americans, it’s no exaggeration to say that, as goes Walmart, so goes America. And vice versa…

A century ago, Henry Ford famously doubled the pay of his workers — to $5 per day — to reduce turnover and make his production lines more efficient. That move had the added benefit of raising living standards for Ford workers and helping establish the modern middle class.

Even though Walmart is the nation’s largest employer — with 1.3 million U.S. workers — it seems highly unlikely it could achieve anything similar to what Henry Ford did. Global competition gives retailers little room to raise costs without giving away pricing advantages. And fading demand for lesser-skilled workers lacking a college degree leaves few companies with a real incentive to raise wages, aside from earning a bit of public goodwill. Before Henry Ford doubled wages, his workers often left for other blue-collar jobs in a booming industrial economy. Most Walmart workers lack such options.

Amazon is nonunion, too.  But Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, donated $2.5 million to support gay marriage in Washington State.  Donates primarily to Democrat candidates.  And supports an Internet sales tax (see What Are Jeff Bezos’s Political Leanings, and How Might They Shape the Washington Post? by David A. Graham, The Atlantic, posted 8/5/2013 on the National Journal).  So there are things the left likes about Amazon.  But they only have about 100,000 employees to Wal-Mart’s 2.2 million.  Which is why the left has an all out assault on Wal-Mart.  Because they want to unionize those 2.2 million.  For 2.2 million people would provide a lot of union dues.

Unionization or a higher minimum wage does not build a strong middle class.  A strong economy does.  That’s what helped Henry Ford raise his wages.  To keep his best workers from quitting so they could take higher paying jobs elsewhere.  Which is how people earn more money.  When an economy is so robust that there are more jobs than people to fill them.  Requiring employers to pay more to attract workers.  Not by forcing employers to pay more.  Especially during a weak economy.  When a business’ margins couldn’t be thinner.  Leaving them unable to raise wages without cutting workers.  Which the left will be glad to see.  Lost jobs.  As long as those remaining are union jobs.


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Canadian Liberals don’t Like Wal-Mart Either

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 15th, 2014

Week in Review

People just don’t hate Wal-Mart in the United States.  The Canadians don’t like them either.  Or, at least, some Canadians (see Developer backs away from plan to put Walmart in Kensington Market by BRUCE LAREGINA AND TARA PERKINS posted 2/13/2014 on The Globe and Mail).

Kensington Market appears to have won the war against Walmart.

The latest pitch to the city from RioCan, the real-estate company developing a site near Bathurst and Nassau streets, no longer includes a big-box Walmart and would shrink the project’s retail area…

“We pushed back hard on this,” said Mr. Layton, who has advocated against Walmart for nearly two and a half years. “The pressure put on Walmart and RioCan from our community backed them off from putting it in our area…”

“As a resident of Kensington Market for my entire life, it looks like a wonderful compromise,” she said. “They were potentially a threat for the businesses in not only Kensington, but in Little Italy and Chinatown as well.

Social democracies everywhere decry capitalism.  And businesses.  Because all they care about are profits.  Which they amass by gouging people with high prices.  This is unfair. And cruel.  People deserve low prices.  Enter government to fetter unfettered capitalism.  To make it fair.  And in the case here that means making sure the local businesses can continue to sell at higher prices.

A business making a profit with high prices is a bad thing.  Unless a Wal-Mart threatens to come in and offer a greater variety of goods at lower prices.  Which will benefit the people.  By proving jobs with better benefits than most Mom and Pop shops can provide.  And allowing people’s paychecks to go farther thanks to those low prices.  But they can’t have that in Kensington Market.  Or any big Democrat U.S. city.  Because Wal-Mart does these wonderful things with a nonunion workforce.  And that’s something liberals just can’t have.  Even if it means higher prices for the people.


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Henry Ford built a Strong Middle Class with Nonunion Labor

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 9th, 2014

Week in Review

President Obama’s new message is the horror of income inequality.  As his friends on Wall Street and in Hollywood make so much more money than the ‘folks’ do.  Of course, if it weren’t for his abysmal economic policies the ‘folks’ would be able to get a better-paying job.  Since he’s been president his policies have destroyed some 11,301,000 jobs (see The BLS Employment Situation Summary for December 2013 posted 1/13/2014 on PITHOCRATES).  The Affordable Care Act, new taxation, costly regulatory policies and his support for union labor all help to kill jobs.  Forcing a lot of people to work a couple of low-paying part-time jobs to pay the bills.  While his friends on Wall Street and in Hollywood have never been richer.

The economy wouldn’t as bad as it is if President Obama didn’t attack business so much.  And, instead, embraced it.  Like Henry Ford (see The Internet Is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History by Bill Davidow posted 1/28/2014 on The Atlantic).

In the past, the most efficient businesses created lots of middle class jobs. In 1914, Henry Ford shocked the industrial world by doubling the pay of assembly line workers to $5 a day. Ford wasn’t merely being generous. He helped to create the middle class, by reasoning that a higher paid workforce would be able them to buy more cars and thus would grow his business.

Yes, Henry Ford did want to pay people enough so they could afford to buy his cars.  But this did something else.  It attracted the best workers to his company.  Because of the incentive of the higher pay.  And if they were lucky enough to have gotten hired in they busted their butts so they could keep those high-paying jobs.  It was a meritocracy.  If a worker wasn’t performing they got rid of that worker.  And offered that job to another person willing to bust their butt to keep that job.

Of course, the unions changed all of that.  The Keynesians will point to Ford to justify their consumption policies (putting more money into consumers’ pockets as the be-all and end-all of their economic policies).  And NOT on how attracting the best workers with the best pay helped make Ford the most efficient.  Allowing Ford to produce cars at prices working people could afford.  Once the unions came in they decreased efficiencies.  Slowed down those assembly lines.  And raised the cost of cars.  So only unionized working people could afford them.  While most other working people had to settle on used cars.  Unless they had a relative that worked for one of the automotive companies that could give them a car at an automotive worker’s discounted price.

Surprisingly, the much-vilified Walmart probably does more to help middle class families raise their median income than the more productive Amazon. Walmart hires about one employee for every $200,000 in sales, which translates to roughly three times more jobs per dollar of sales than Amazon.

Why do some vilify Wal-Mart?  Because like Henry Ford was in the beginning they are nonunion.  Helping them not only to hire the best workers but to provide goods at a lower price so those not in a union can afford to buy them.  So Wal-Mart helps middle class families in two ways.  They help to raise the median family income.  And they allow that median family income go further.  Perhaps the greatest weapon in the arsenal to fight income inequality.  As they help those not in privileged jobs (such as a UAW job or a government job) to live as well as someone in those privileged jobs.


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Wal-Mart Health Care Plans are better than Obamacare Plans

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 12th, 2014

Week in Review

Government at all levels and unions hate Wal-Mart.  Because they are nonunion.  Which helps to keep their costs down.  Enabling them to offer such low prices.  And it’s those low prices that keep bringing customers through their doors.  Allowing them to make a decent profit.  So they can take care of their employees.  Including health care plans that are better than anything offered under Obamacare (see Surprise! Walmart health plan is cheaper, offers more coverage than Obamacare by RICHARD POLLOCK posted 1/7/2014 on the Washington Examiner).

For a monthly premium as low as roughly $40, an individual who is a Walmart HRA plan enrollee can obtain full-service coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization. A family can get coverage for about $160 per month.

Unlike Obamacare, there are no income eligibility requirements. Age and gender do not alter premium rates. The company plan is the same for all of Walmart’s 1.1 million enrolled employees and their dependents, from its cashiers to its CEO.

A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis from September showed that unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees will face monthly premiums that are five to nine times higher than Walmart premiums.

JAMA found the unsubsidized premium for a nonsmoking gouple age 60 can cost $1,365 per month versus the Walmart cost of about $134 for the same couple.

The medical journal reported a 30-year-old smoker would pay up to $428 per month, in contrast to roughly $70 each month for a Walmart employee.

A family of four could pay a $962 premium, but the same Walmart family member would pay about $160.

Low premiums are not the only distinguishing feature of the Walmart plan. The retailer’s employees can use eight of the country’s most prestigious medical facilities, including the Mayo Clinic, Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.

At these institutions, which Walmart calls “Centers of Excellence,” Walmart employees and their dependents can get free heart or spinal surgery. They can also get free knee and hip replacements at four hospitals nationwide.

Many top-rated Walmart hospitals — such as the Mayo and Cleveland clinics — are left out of most Obamacare exchange plans…

Slayton said the gap between doctor availability in Chicago under the Obamacare and Walmart plans is dramatic.

“You will notice there are 9,837 doctors [under Obamacare]. But the larger network is 24,904 doctors. Huge, huge difference,” he said.

Wall-Mart can give more for less under their health care plan than the government can under Obamacare.  Which proves that the private sector is better than the public sector in doing anything.  Even health care.  So if we want quality health care for everyone then we should get rid of Obamacare and have everyone join a Wal-Mart plan.  But, of course, that won’t happen.  For Obamacare is not about quality health care for everyone.  It’s about amassing power.  Which is why governments and unions attack Wal-Mart.  And we have Obamacare.  Because this transfers money and power from the private sector to the public sector and unions.  Allowing the privileged few to live better lives than the masses.


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Wal-Mart Haters can’t get Wal-Mart Workers or Shoppers to Hate Wal-Mart

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 8th, 2013

Week in Review

The political left hates Wal-Mart.  And just loves to hate them.  Because they use nonunion labor.  Unions are constantly trying to organize Wal-Mart stores.  They picket and protest but the people don’t rise up in solidarity.  Why?  Because the people love Wal-Mart.  Where their ever shrinking paychecks can buy more than at any other store.  They love these stores.  And their employees do, too.  At least based on this phony protest (see Walmart on Thursday protests: ‘The UFCW threw a party and nobody showed up’ by SEAN HIGGINS posted 9/6/2013 on the Washington Examiner).

Walmart issued the following statement this afternoon in response to protest events orchestrated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union-backed group OUR Walmart on Thursday:

Once again, it looks like the UFCW threw a party and nobody showed up. Despite promises of ‘thousands of workers’ protesting this week, the union failed to deliver more than a smattering of paid protesters at their 15 orchestrated events. At most, 50 of the participants actually work for Walmart, put another way, that’s less than one-tenth of one percent of our 1.3 million associates…

A Washington Examiner look at news reports of the protests in the 11 cities that held them (OUR Walmart had promised 15 cities) found that Few of the protesters were actual employees of the nonunion retail giant.

If Wal-Mart was so bad the people still would not have showed up to protest.  Why?  Because if it was that bad working at Wal-Mart no one would work at Wal-Mart.  But the Wal-Mart haters will say that is only because these Wal-Mart jobs are the best jobs available.  And the supporters of Wal-Mart will say, “Exactly.”

If Wal-Mart is such an evil place to work then the simplest solution would be for another business to open up and offer better pay and benefits to attract the Wal-Mart workers over to their store.  But that’s not happening.  Because these Wal-Mart haters won’t put their money where their mouth is and open up a store that offers better pay and benefits.  But the Wal-Mart haters will say that’s not fair because they can’t do what Wal-Mart can do.  And the supporters of Wal-Mart will say, “Exactly.”  Which is why people love shopping at Wal-Mart.


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FT186: “Liberals are so bad at economics because they had no one in their lives to undo the bad education they got.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 6th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Minimum-Wage Workers in Fast-Food and at Wal-Mart want a Living Wage for their Minimum-Wage Jobs

Wal-Mart workers are now demanding a living wage.  (Or people hired to protest the company the left loves to attack.)  Awhile back it was the fast-food workers demanding a doubling of the minimum wage.  So they could have a living wage.  Because they can’t raise their families with a minimum wage job.  So they want a pay rate beyond the pay rate of a minimum wage job.

So how much is earning $15/hour?  Well, if you work full-time and get the usual (2 weeks of vacation and holiday pay) that comes to 2080 (40 hours/week X 52 weeks/year) payroll hours a year.  At $15/hour that comes to $31,200 annually.  Which is the ‘living wage’ the fast-food workers want.  And no wonder.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (see May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates) here are some other jobs that pay around $31,200 annually with what they do as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Medical Assistants (Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician).  Medical Equipment Preparers (Prepare, sterilize, install, or clean laboratory or healthcare equipment. May perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment).  Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians (Cut, grind, and polish eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other precision optical elements. Assemble and mount lenses into frames or process other optical elements. Includes precision lens polishers or grinders, centerer-edgers, and lens mounters).  Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation (Mix or apply pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides through sprays, dusts, vapors, soil incorporation, or chemical application on trees, shrubs, lawns, or botanical crops. Usually requires specific training and State or Federal certification).  Pharmacy Technicians (Prepare medications under the direction of a pharmacist. May measure, mix, count out, label, and record amounts and dosages of medications according to prescription orders).  Phlebotomists (Draw blood for tests, transfusions, donations, or research. May explain the procedure to patients and assist in the recovery of patients with adverse reactions).  And Substitute Teachers (Teach students in a public or private school when the regular teacher is unavailable).

Some have worked Two or More Fast-Food/Retail Jobs so they could get the Education and Skills for a Higher-Paying Job

These are not entry-level jobs.  You just can’t walk in when you’re still a high school student, fill out an application and expect to get hired in any of these jobs.  They all take training/education beyond high school.  And require a license or certification.  Which requires an investment of time and money to get.  Usually including night school at the least.  And more often at least 2 years of college.  None of which is required for a minimum wage job.

So it’s no wonder people with minimum wage jobs want a pay rate that is beyond their skill-set.  Who wouldn’t?  Wouldn’t you want to get that higher pay without putting in that schooling?  That investment of time and money?  Things you probably can’t even do if you’re raising a family on a minimum wage job.  Or two.  But does that mean we should just pay these people more?  Would that be fair to the Medical Assistants, Medical Equipment Preparers, Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians, Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation, Pharmacy Technicians, Phlebotomists and Substitute Teachers?

No.  It wouldn’t be fair to them.  For they would have made great sacrifices in their life to get those better paying jobs.  Because that is how you get a better-paying job.  In fact, some may have worked two or more fast-food/retail (such as Wal-Mart) jobs so they could get the education and skills these jobs required.  A lot of people working in fast-food/retail today may be doing the same thing.  For fast-food and retail offer two great things that allow these people to acquire these skills.  They will hire people without any skills (i.e., entry-level workers).  And fast-food and retail have many working schedules available.  Allowing single-parents to work when they have other arrangements for their children (school, daycare, parents, etc.).

The Hippies of the Sixties became Professors and then Moved on to Write the Curriculum

Instead of protesting fast-food and Wal-Mart we should be happy that at least someone in this horrible economy is actually hiring people when so few others are.  As President Obama’s economic policies have made such an anti-business environment.  The economy is so bad that just this past month another 516,000 have left the labor force (see Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age).  Which is the only reason why the unemployment rate fell.  Because of discouraged workers who couldn’t find a job just quit looking for a job.  But the government puts a positive spin on this by lauding the 169,000 new jobs the economy created.  Saying it’s further proof that President Obama’s economic policies are working.  Despite 516,000 who quit looking for jobs that are just not there.

If people are unhappy with their low-paying jobs in fast-food and retail they should be more upset about this economic destruction being waged by the Obama administration.  Which is the reason why fast-food and retail are the only businesses hiring today.  But there is no outrage.  Why?  Because most don’t understand economics.  And there is a reason why most people don’t.  It’s because of our education system.  Which the left has taken over.  Who write a curriculum that teaches students that capitalism and profits are unfair and bad while government and income redistribution so the rich pay their fair share is good.  And just.

A professor at Michigan State is the latest professor to illustrate the indoctrination of our young going on at our public schools and colleges.  Parents had to deal with their kids coming home from high school to hear how they were killing the polar bears because they drive cars.  But when these kids go to college this is the kind of stuff they encounter on a daily basis.  And he’s not the worst offender.  The worst offenders are those who don’t say outrageous things.  But who do it more subtly.  A smile, a smirk, a condescending remark—things that tell a young impressionable mind out from under their parents’ control for the first time that their parents were wrong.  Unless their parents were liberal.  They will believe almost anything these professors say.  Because they are very smart and must know far more than their parents.  And they treat these kids like adults.  And there is nothing that high school/college kids want more.  To be grown up.  It’s why they smoke cigarettes.  And have sex.  Because that’s what grownups do.

So is it any wonder that people have a poor understanding of economics?  Ever since the hippies of the Sixties couldn’t change the country from the outside they became professors to change it from the inside.  And then moved on to write the curriculum.  These people who hated capitalism.  And admired communism.  Which is why so many of them lived in communes in the Sixties.  These are the people writing the curriculum for our children.  Making sure our education system creates like-minded people.  To keep them voting Democrat until wisdom and experience opens their eyes.  And undoes the bad education they got.  This is why people think that it’s fair to pay minimum wage workers the same as Medical Assistants, Medical Equipment Preparers, Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians, Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation, Pharmacy Technicians, Phlebotomists and Substitute Teachers.  Just to see how pervasive this indoctrination of our children is—and why people keep voting for those who keep trying the failed economic policies of the past—we should put a webcam in every classroom and lecture hall.  So parents—and the rest of America—can see the liberal dogma being fed to the young.  Making them think, and vote, the way they do.  Then we’ll know whether these are isolated incidences.  Or that it is in fact pervasive.  Explaining why so many people today have no understanding of economics.  That minimum-wage jobs are entry-level jobs.  And that if you want to raise a family you probably shouldn’t be voting Democrat.  Whose policies are making the only available jobs in this horrible economy those entry-level jobs.


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The Democrats make the Poor travel for Hours by Bus to do their Grocery Shopping

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2013

Week in Review

The Democrats champion unions.  And the poor.  Which creates a bit of a problem for Democrats.  As unions actually help to keep the poor poor.  Union employees raise selling prices higher than non-union employees.  Which is why cars built in the union North are more expensive than cars built in the non-union South.  And why the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, can sell at such low prices.  Because their stores use non-union labor.  Which the Democrats hate.  And work actively to prevent them from moving into new neighborhoods.  Which may explain problems like this (see How access to fresh food divides Americans by Iris Mansour posted 8/15/2013 on CNNMoney).

Twenty-nine million Americans live in urban and rural food deserts, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). By this definition, Americans in low-income rural areas have to travel at least 10 miles to get to their nearest supermarket. While city dwellers from low-income neighborhoods have to travel a mile or more.

In America, where the car is king, a 15-minute, one-mile drive doesn’t seem unreasonable. But if you live in a dense city like Washington D.C., that may mean having to take two hour-long bus rides in each direction to get to a supermarket, with shopping bags in tow…

But why the supermarket shortfall..?

Brian Lang, Director of the National Campaign for Healthy Food Access at The Food Trust says supermarkets stay away because urban settings force them to rethink the shape and size of their stores. Walgreens (WAG) can’t transplant its standard rectangular layouts from the sprawling suburbs into tightly packed neighborhoods. TRF’s Hinkle-Brown highlights another issue. A supermarket’s employees tend to live very nearby. “If they’re operating in low-income areas, they’re less work-ready. It takes six months longer to train them, and insurance costs are higher in urban areas,” he says.

Jeffrey Brown has experienced these problems firsthand. He operates six ShopRite supermarkets in former food deserts and five in suburban areas. He explains that suburban grocery stores, like his own, can expect to make a 1% net profit after tax, while his urban stores initially showed a 4% loss, resulting in a 5% gap between urban and suburban profits…

Hinkle-Brown explains that in 2004 he couldn’t get a meeting with a national grocery store. But today Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT) are opening smaller urban stores. “They realized that the big business frontier of revolutionary growth was behind them,” says Hinkle-Brown.

Walmart has a made a commitment to open 275 to 300 stores in food desert areas by 2016.

Most of these food deserts are in impoverished parts of big cities.  That are Democrat.  Like Detroit.  San Francisco.  Seattle.  Boston.  New York City.  And Washington D.C.  Where the local Democrat governments have done everything within their power to keep Wal-Mart out (see Washington D.C. and Detroit say ‘No’ to Wal-Mart because they don’t need Jobs or Shelves full of Low-Priced Goods posted 7/20/2013 on Pithocrates).  Because they care more for their dues-paying union supporters than the poor.  Apparently.

Wal-Mart can make life better for so many.  And they want to.  But because they’re non-union the Democrats are keeping them away from the people that would benefit most from them.  It’s not the Republicans doing this to the poor.  It’s the Democrats doing this to the poor.  And they’re supposed to be the protector of the poor?  Let’s hope the poor remember this the next time they vote.  Of course, for that, the Democrats will drive them to the polls.  Because that’s what they really care about.  Their vote.  Not how many hours they have to travel by bus to do their grocery shopping.


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Washington D.C. and Detroit say ‘No’ to Wal-Mart because they don’t need Jobs or Shelves full of Low-Priced Goods

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 20th, 2013

Week in Review

The Democrats hate Wal-Mart.  As do unions.  Because Wal-Mart stores do not have union labor.  Unions hate that.  And because Democrats and unions are joined at the hip, Democrats hate what unions hate.  Which is why you won’t find Wal-Mart stores in big Democrat cities.  Because the Democrats do everything they can to keep them out.  Even writing laws specifically targeting Wal-Mart (see Trouble in store: Why Walmart has failed to woo Washington by Rupert Cornwell posted 7/21/2013 on The Independent).

Walmart has been wooing [Washington D.C.] for years, and in 2010 announced plans to open four stores there, a number subsequently raised to six. Everything was going swimmingly, with work already started on three of the sites, until earlier this month, when the council passed its Large Retailer Accountability Act, otherwise known as “Get Walmart”.

Under it, non-unionised stores with a commercial space of 75,000ft or more – ie Walmart – will henceforth have to pay employees at least $12.50 (£8.20) an hour, compared with the city’s existing minimum wage of $8.25, and the national one of just $7.25 an hour. The company retorted by threatening to scrap three of the planned stores at once, and perhaps abandon the three where construction has begun too, causing the loss of up to 1,800 new jobs…

The case for Walmart is strong – that its stores provide working-class Americans (and many wealthier ones too) with good service and a broad selection of goods “at the lowest prices possible”, to use the words of old Sam Walton, who opened his first store in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. And it provides jobs: 1.4 million of them in the US alone…

Nor is Washington DC alone in feeling that way. Five of the country’s other largest cities – San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Boston and, above all, New York – have also said no. “As long as Walmart’s behaviour remains the same, they’re not welcome in New York City,” says Christine Quinn, the New York City council speaker who may well be the next mayor. “New York isn’t changing. Walmart has to change.”

Not by coincidence all those cities, like DC, are Democratic strongholds where unions are strong. They are liberal, socially “progressive” and, by definition, urban, while Walmart’s genes are southern, conservative and suburban.

Detroit said ‘no’ to Wal-Mart?  The city that just filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history said they don’t need jobs or low prices on food, clothing, pharmacy and household goods?  If you’re looking for the answer to why Detroit is in the mess it is in this is your answer.  The Democrat stronghold in Detroit got so anti-business that it chased all the jobs out of the city.  Once the jobs left the people soon followed.  First the whites.  Accelerating their ‘white-flight’ following the Detroit riots.  While the blacks held on.  But after 20 years (1974 – 1994) of Coleman A. Young they gave up, too.  For they don’t come further left than Coleman A. Young.  And when you’re that far left you’re no friend to business.  So businesses stay away.  As do their jobs.

The black middle class followed the whites out of Detroit.  In pursuit of greener pastures.  And jobs.  Leaving Detroit with half the population it once had.  Impoverished.  And more anti-business than ever.  Which is why they said ‘no’ to Wal-Mart.  Because Wal-Mart isn’t union.  And the two largest employers in the city, the City of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools, are union strongholds.  So they protected their high pay and benefit packages.  By keeping nonunion jobs out of the city.  While thinking nothing of the unemployed masses in the city.  Helping to keep the unemployment rate in Detroit well above the national average.  While the unemployed masses would have loved to see up to six new Wal-Mart stores (or more) opening in the city.  The 1,800 new jobs (or more) that would have came with them.  And shelves full of food, clothing, pharmacy and household goods at low prices that their Wal-Mart paycheck could easily afford.  But no.  Wal-Mart is not union.  So the people of Detroit have to stay unemployed.  And impoverished.


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Balance Sheet, Financial Ratios, Private Equity, Toys “R” Us, Bain Capital, Leveraged Buyout and Initial Public Offering

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 29th, 2012

History 101

Private Equity guides a Business foundering in Rough Seas into a Safe Harbor to Refit it for Profitability

The balance sheet is the one of the two most important financial statements of a business.  It’s a snapshot in time of the financial position of a company.  In the classical format all assets are on the left side.  And all liabilities and equity are on the right.  And the total value of all assets equals the total value of all liabilities and equity.  In other words the business bought all of their assets with money raised by borrowing (liabilities), with money raised by selling stock (equity) or with money generated by the business (retained earnings/profits). 

Everything you ever wanted to know about a business you can find on the balance sheet.  Through numerous financial ratios you can determine if the business is using their assets efficiently.  Or have too many assets that cost more to maintain for the revenue they produce.  You can tell if a business has too much debt.  Or has so little debt that new debt can finance growth and expansion.  Which could attract new equity investors for further growth.  You can see if they’re matching the terms of their debt with the life of their assets.  Or if they’re taking on long-term debt obligations to provide short-term working capital.  A review of a firm’s balance sheet can also tell how well the management team is doing.  Or how poorly.

The financial picture the balance sheet provides of a business is an objective picture.  It gives an outsider a different view of the company than an insider.  Who may have a more subjective view.  They may not want to shutter a poorly utilized factory because of pride, sympathy for the employees or unfounded hope that business will improve soon.  So they will risk losing everything by not accepting that they must let some things go.  Like a cargo ship foundering in rough seas.  To save the ship and most of its cargo a captain may have to jettison some cargo.  If he or she doesn’t the captain can lose the ship.  The cargo.  And the lives of everyone on board.  Perhaps having a life or death decision in the balance makes it easier to make those hard decisions.  Perhaps that’s why some CEOs can’t let some things go.  Because they never accept the seriousness of their situation.  Perhaps this is why an outsider can read a balance sheet and see what the CEO can’t.  And act.  Like the captain of a ship foundering in rough seas.  And this is what private equity does.  Guides a foundering business into a safe harbor.  Refits it.  And then re-launches it on a course of profitability.

Toys “R” Us

Toys “R” Us was hitting its stride in the Eighties.  They were dominating the retail toy business.  Even expanding internationally.  And into other lines.  Children’s clothing.  Kids “R” Us.  And baby products.  Babies “R” Us.  There was no stopping them.  The secret to their success?  Sell every hot new toy kids wanted.  And sell it cheap.  At or below cost.  Using these loss leaders to get people into their stores.  Where they could sell them more expensive goods in addition to the most popular ‘must have’ toys. 

Then came the Nineties.  And serious competition.  From the big department stores, discount chains and warehouse clubs.  Target.  Wal-Mart.  Costco.  And then the Internet.  Who could use the Toys “R” Us strategy just as well.  And do them one better.  Toys “R” Us focused on selling the ‘must have’ toys at the lowest price.  Where customers came in knowing what they were looking for.  Finding it.  And heading to the checkout.  With a plan like that you don’t need customer service.  So when the competition matched them on selection and price they also threw in better customer service.  Wal-Mart surpassed Toys “R” Us.  Which was by then losing both profitability and market share. 

In 2004 a consortium of private equity (KKR and Bain Capital) and Vornado Realty Trust bought Toys “R” Us for $6.6 billion in a leveraged buyout.  And they turned the corporation around.  With a new management team.  Made the corporation more efficient.  In the brick and mortar stores as well as online.  The company is better and stronger today.  But it has delayed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) for about 2 years now due to a couple of lackluster Christmas seasons during the Great Recession.  They will use the capital raised from the IPO to pay down the debt from the leveraged buyout now sitting on Toys “R” Us’ balance sheet.  Making the turnaround complete.  Allowing the private equity firms to exit while leaving behind a healthier and more profitable company.

The Goal of the Leveraged Buyout was to make Toys “R” Us a Stronger Company

Private equity was successful at Toys “R” Us because Toys “R” Us was a good company.  From 1948 it consistently did the smart thing and grew into the giant it is.  But then it matured.  And the market changed.  Like a ship foundering in rough seas they just needed a little help to captain them through those rough seas.  And that’s what private equity did. 

Many will criticize the sizable debt they’ve left on their balance sheet.  But the plan was always to take the company public again.  Using the proceeds from the IPO to clean up the balance sheet.  Yes, the equity partners will also make a fortune.  But Toys “R” will emerge from this process a stronger company.  Which was the goal of the leveraged buyout.  They did not chop up the company and liquidate the pieces.  They purchased it in 2005.  And the company is still around today in 2012.  What have they been doing all this time?  Trying to make the company the best it can be.  So they can profit greatly from the IPO. 

No doubt the balance sheet of Toys “R” Us has never looked better.  Other than the debt added for the leveraged buyout.  Which they have been able to service since 2005.  So clearly the company is doing something right.  And just imagine how well they will do after they clean that debt off of their balance sheet.  After the IPO.  Suffice it to say that our grandchildren will be shopping there for their own children one day.


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