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One Nation under Wal-Mart Essay

82% of American households purchase at least one item from Wal-Mart every year. Wal-Mart controls about 30% of the market in household staples. Sells 15% of all magazines and 15%-20% of all CDs, videos and DVDs. It is expected to control over 35% of U.S. food sales.

When comparing other companies that sell consumer products, Wal-Mart represents a big chunk of their total business: 20% for Dial, 24% for Del Monte, and 23% for Revlon. Wal-Mart is responsible for 10% of all goods imported to the United States from China. Wal-Mart offers the lowest prices in all of their products, because of the cost efficiency it has achieved. Wal-Mart’s buying power and cost-saving efficiencies force local rivals out of business, thus costing jobs, disrupting communities, and injuring established business districts. Within 5 years after one Wal-Mart opening, two local supermarkets close. Because of Wal-Mart tax breaks, it causes the local tax revenue to decrease and not increase. Wal-Mart is staunchly anti-union and pays low wages.

Its labor cost are 20% lower than those of unionized supermarkets; its clerks earns only $8.23 an hour, and most of its 1.4 million employees must survive without company health insurance. Employee turnover is 44%.

Because of its size, it exerts a downward pressure on retail wages and benefits throughout the country. Because of its hard line on costs, it has forced many factories to move overseas, which sacrifices American jobs and holds wages down. Government welfare programs subsidize Wal-Mart’s poverty-level wages. 200 employee store costs the government $42k a year in housing assistance, $108k in children’s healthcare, and $125k in tax credits and deductions for low-income families. 46% of the children of Wal-Mart’s 1.33 million workers are uninsured or on Medicaid.

Wal-Mart hires mores part-time employees and discourages unhealthy people from working at the store by requiring all jobs to include some physical labor in order to reduce spending on health care and other benefits. Wal-Mart does not carry music or computer games with mature ratings, forcing big music companies to supply them with sanitized versions of the CDs. Wal-Mart offers fire arms in many locations but has declined to sell Preven, a morning after pill. Wal-Mart has declined to sell some magazines and has put binder to obscure the covers of other magazines. Wal-Mart is considered “the biggest barrier to growth”.

Wal-Mart decide to respond to all the criticism by improving employee health insurance coverage and adopting greener business practices. Wal-Mart was one of the first responders to Hurricane Katrina by sending truckloads of water and food reaching the residents before federal supplies did. Wal-Mart sales growth has slipped as the internet has changed people’s shopping habits and as other discounters have done a better job of attracting affluent consumer and providing higher quality and better service.

2. Ethical Issues
Is it ethical and moral for Wal-Mart to make profit maximizing and cost effectiveness their number one goal? Is it moral to only hire part-time employees to decrease their health care spending? Is it moral or ethical to sell firearms but decline to sell the morning after pill? Is it moral for Wal-Mart not to provide fair wages to the employees? Is it moral for Wal-Mart to take advantage of government welfare program for subsidization? Should there be a requirement for large companies to employ a certain percentage of full-time employees? Does Wal-Mart have a moral responsibility of helping the communities grow? Is it moral or ethical for Wal-Mart to not provide adequate health care to its employees?

Is it moral for Wal-Mart to insist on tax breaks at the expense of the local community tax revenues decreasing? Should we as citizens enable these large companies by accepting jobs that pay poorly and offer no health insurance? Is it moral for Wal-Mart not to value the life and well-being of their employees and families? Is it ethical for Wal-Mart to be customer-oriented and not employee-oriented? Is it ethical for corporation like Wal-Mart to be held to higher standards to provide a better living standard to the employees and the community? Should a company of a certain size be required to offer health insurance? Should large companies that get tax breaks be forced to contribute to the community in other ways? 3. Primary Stakeholders

Wal-Mart itself
U.S. economy
Consumers across U.S.

Other companies and its employees
Local communities
Other countries

4. Alternative Actions

Wal-Mart should either pay their employees higher wages or provide health care regardless of the hours worked. Wal-Mart should maximize profits and at the same time look out for the well-being of the employee. Require a company the size of Wal-Mart to give back to the community if it wants to open a store. Try to establish a bill requiring large companies to maintain the majority of its employees as full-time where benefits can be offered. Cities or counties should not offer tax cuts to businesses that could ³disrupt the community. Wal-Mart needs to establish a more competitive pay and better benefits program for their employees. Wal-Mart should keep doing what they are doing. It has been effective so far in becoming the largest company in the world, why change it?

5. Ethics of the Alternatives

Alternative 1
Wal-Mart should keep doing what they are doing. It has been effective so far in becoming the largest company in the world and among the most profitable ones, why change it?
Utilitarian Perspective
Utilitarian perspective would not support this idea. This idea seeks out to produce the greatest good for the company itself and not everyone person or business affected. Wal-Mart is seeking out the best for the company and one else. In order to be supported it would have to be the greatest good for Wal-Mart and everyone affected by this decision and or actions of the business.

Deontological or Rights Perspective

Deontological perspective would not support this alternative in any way. This is an alternative that treats people as a means to an end. It does not recognize the value and importance of the employees, and only values the company itself and the profits that can make. This is not a good way of conducting business and would never be accepted as a universal rule.


Egoism perspective would support this alternative. Wal-Mart is basically doing what is best for the company and the shareholders, which is their primary duty. They are the largest company in the world and immensely profitable. Even with all the opposition it faces it is still one of the prefer companies for many consumers to their one stop shop. They offer the best and lower prices and customers are able to find everything they need for their households in just one stop. Wal-Mart is here to make profit and stay in business, this is their goal.

Alternative 2

Wal-Mart should either pay their employees higher wages or provide health care regardless of the hours worked.
Utilitarian Perspective
Utilitarian perspective could support this alternative. It would have to be seen as being the greatest good for both Wal-Mart and the employees. If Wal-Mart raises the wages or offer the employees’ healthcare benefits, this will have benefits for both. The employee will be happy and will feel valued and appreciated by the employer. In turn the employees will have job satisfaction and their job performance will be good. This will help to the growth and success of the company. With happy employees helping potential customers, it can ensure good sales and thus increase their profit.

Deontological or Rights Perspective

Deontological perspective would support this alternative. This alternative seeks out the benefits of the employees. It takes into consideration their value as a human and show respect. By Wal-Mart implementing such policy in the company they are saying to the employees that we value and want to right by you. Every employee is a valuable asset to the company and key to its success. This alternative treats the employees as ends and not as the means to end.


This alternative would not be supported by egoism. With this alternative Wal-Mart seeks to offer the best solution possible to their employees. They can either increase their wages so the employees are able to have a better standard of living or offer healthcare regardless of hours worked. This would ensure the well-being of each employee. 6. Practical Constrains

Finding the right piece of property to build the store
Government regulations
The company’s responsibilities to the shareholders and to make profit Ability to offer the lowest prices
American products too expensive to sell in the store
Cost of being in business

7. Actions to be taken

Wal-Mart should change their current employee benefits program and offer a better and more competitive pay. This would allow for employees and their families to have a better standard of life It would help by possibly increasing the retail wages among other businesses Wal-Mart should participate in community events and give back to community Wal-Mart should hold meetings in communities where they are looking to build and hear the citizen concerns and find solutions so it is of benefit for both.

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