Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 20, 2011

Wal-Mart, Women & the Duping of America

Betty Dukes, originator of the now squashed Wal-Mart gender discrimination suit.

As I write this, an essential news story about the single largest employer in the U.S. is trending third (and dropping further) at, slightly behind the latest sensationalist murder trial, and well behind the death in a car crash of one of the stars of the Jackass movies.

It figures we’d be so distracted by our freakshows that we’d lose track of our own best interests. What a jackass country.

Supreme Court: Wal-Mart case too big
The Supreme Court decided against allowing a sex-discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart.

CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin explains why in the short video below:

I tried to let this pass, trying to stay all positive and spiritual, to rise above all the political hand-wringing. But some things just gotta get talked about in a true democracy, and Wal-Mart (including China, its biggest partner) are the elephants in the room when it comes to the fallacy that the world is moving toward a “free market” economy and not an oligarchy. (For you kids out there, an oligarchy is defined in Roget’s Thesaurus as similar to a clique, an aristocracy, or a junta. Ask your parents –who lived through the Reaganite, union-breaking, warmongering Eighties when these juju economics began– what a junta is…).

I’ve been keeping one skeptical eye on Wal-Mart here at MT for years now, and this decision strikes me as the icing on some bitter, bitter cake. But at least I’m not alone in noticing the bitter taste. Here’s Huffington Post’s story from last year, describing the suit itself.

Wal-Mart is the *largest* U.S. employer — by almost a 4-to-1 ratio over McDonald’s. And we’re not even talking yet about their retail sales numbers, or the fact that they’re still privately owned, and thus accountable to almost no one. So if we actually think we’re making progress in the new millenium –on behalf of women, the working poor, or legitimate discrimination claims and judicial reform– then this Supreme Court decision shows clearly that we’re deluding ourselves. Special interests are getting more special treatment than ever by our own government– even in Obama’s government, and changing that is one of the main promises he made in the 2008 campaign.

Shame shame, Mr. Prez. Time to get some backbone finally.

A hundred years ago –heck, even 25 years ago with AT&T– courts and legislators and executives cared about such things as breaking up or regulating an unhealthy monopoly. But now, clearly the Wal-tail is wagging the Gov-dog.

Meanwhile, the states can’t pay their own bills, unemployment is reaching record highs, and confused, hurting citizens are expected to just sit back and watch another Jackass movie –all so that the comic morphine can help us ignore the cancers throughout the system. As nations go, we’re a like a bunch of 12-year-olds.

Sure, the women in the Wal-Mart class-action suit can refile a bunch of smaller discrimination suits, and will likely even win many of them. (A majority of them?, I’m not so sure.) But this Supreme Court decision effectively takes away the overall case’s momentum. More subtly, it also upsets the financial applecart, putting the onus on smaller plaintiff groups to pay for their cases to go forward, where they will likely be overmatched against the legal  and financial Godzilla that Wal-Mart has become.

This decision –to use a gospel term, since Jesus was the first great modern economist– is the conservative court’s way of “striking the shepherd, so the sheep will scatter”.

Just when I had built up some hope for reform, and gotten over my temptation to move to Canada or Australia, cases like this tend to dash one’s hopes for our country’s ability to overcome our addiction to exploiting “the least of these”.

I’m calling “FOUL” here, and I don’t care who knows it.

On behalf of massive numbers of exploited manufacturing workers in China and the developing world, and massive numbers of women in America who can’t get ahead in the Mal-Warted New Economy, and thousands of other independent businesses systematically put out of business –because they don’t have the firepower of this monstrous company– I’m calling FOUL!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: