Friday, May 04, 2012

1013 Big Spenders from Arkansas

1013 Big Spenders from Arkansas

Wal-Mart, the giant you love to hate, is back in the business of spending lavishly.  Wal-mart? Spending lavishly?  Depends on what you mean by lavish.  Eight figures qualifies.

That’s the money supposedly paid to authorities in Mexico, where corruption is legal and publicly celebrated.  It went to get building permits abutting ancient ruins.  Or making the glacially slow Mexican approval process for new structures move as fast as cars on the autobahn.

Of course, there is a question about whether these apparently shady payments were actually made.  If you ask the folks at Bentonville, Arkansas, retail capital of the known universe, they’ll tell you they’re looking into it.  An internal investigation is moving apace, much like those cars on the autobahn... the ones that ran out of gas halfway between Cologne and Bonn.

Eventually, heads that didn’t roll when word first leaked out will roll, too.  And Wal-mart will be clean as a whistle for a while.

But the Mexico thing raises some questions.   Who knew about this?  Who signed the checks?  Where else might this be taking place?

No worries, folks.  Nothing to see.  Move along.  And oh by the way “Have you noticed our plastic bags are now made of recycled materials?”

Yes... we have noticed.  Because their color is clothes dryer lint gray instead of white and there, in huge letters, is the notice “Made of 30% recycled materials.”  We’ve also noticed because the new eco-friendly bags break more easily than a one dollar wine glass.  (The old ones broke only more easily than a $2 wine glass. Big difference.”)

Checkout clerks, being actual human beings have taken to doubling bags when there’s anything heavier to be packed than a greeting card and the latest edition of the Midnight Globe tabloid. Saving... what?

But the company’s three biggest problems remain officially off the in-house radar: the way employees are treated … or not treated... the enforced hillbilly lifestyle of what they sell, along with book and movie selection only an Arkansas fundamentalist could embrace... and the endless lines that make checking out seem like a Tai Chi marathon.

Maybe they should bribe you to shop there.

Shrapnel (Media Mogul Edition):

--A British parliament committee has declared Rupert Murdoch “unfit” to own the huge media conglomerate he owns, what with all the hullabaloo about phone taps and payoffs.  In Britain that can be grounds to yank broadcast licenses.  But he’ll still cry all the way to the bank.

--CNN insiders are complaining about reduced ratings, and fiddling with programming and personalities without realizing that the slump is not because of something they do or don’t do but because of something they don’t have:  Ted Turner.  The buttoned down MBAs at the network’s owner, Time Warner, can’t run something that was designed and built to be run by a strong personality with brains and guts.  Until they hire someone like that, they’ll continue to be what they are:  something about which it’s easy to say “Turner off.”



I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

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