Here come the hyenas

Editor, The Record:

Re: Business is fine, Wal-Mart, no, Aug. 25 edition.

I am only adding to Mr. Rock’s already excellent words, because I want to show there are more people in agreement with his points.

As with any construction job, Wal-Mart will provide employment for a number of people for a short period of time. These will be the good Wal-Mart jobs, some even being union jobs, complete with full benefits and living wages.

However, once the construction ends, the construction jobs end. Thus, Wal-Mart cannot be said to be a major provider of good jobs for the long term.

So what happens when the big box is constructed and stocked full of cheap goods made overseas? What will the Wal-Mart “partner” jobs look like?

They will, most assuredly, not be highly paid. In fact, they will be some of the lowest paid jobs in Mission, with few of the employees receiving any benefits beyond those legally required under law. These workers’ hours will also be carefully monitored to ensure they do not add up to enough to qualify for full time benefits due them under labour laws of B.C.

As Mr. Rock so astutely mentions, Wal-Mart is also a poor global citizen, “employing” people to make T-shirts and jeans, etc., for nothing, so we can then sing Wal-Mart’s praises because we have been able to outfit our school-returning youngster for $40, instead of the $140 we would have to pay elsewhere.

It is tempting to say that our allowing Wal-Mart in to Mission is akin to inviting the wolf into the henhouse; however, our local economy is stronger than what a henhouse might suggest, and we aren’t a flock of weak chickens, waiting to be preyed on.

So, perhaps a better analogy is that we have thrown our doors open, blithely allowing a pack of hyenas into our pride of lions. We may be able to fight them off for a while, but through deviousness (control of access to suppliers, tax breaks, low wages) and sheer numbers (“Low Prices” and “Rollbacks”), the hyenas will triumph, leaving a wasteland of skeletal buildings where once stood proud local businesses.

Is this the Mission we want? If it is, please shop at Wal-Mart. If not, lobby our council to keep working on downtown revitalization, keep shopping at stores that you know funnel their profits back into the local economy, and support the world we want to build for our children.

If we all – or at least enough of us – said “I prefer not to” when asked if we want to shop at Wal-Mart, the Wal-Marts of the world would cease to exist, and all the towns currently with a Wal-Mart would begin the process of rebuilding their downtowns and main streets.

Let’s hope Mission gets rid of this monster before getting to that point.

Steve Moore