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Opinion – 4/11/2003

The Panolian Editorial

For additional opinions and articles,
pick up the 4/11/03  issue of The Panolian

Variety, ‘They’ Say, Adds Spice to All Our Lives

"You’re weird."

That’s what my "big brother" told me a while back when he went through some of my CDs and tapes.

"There’s everything from Van Halen to Beethoven in here," he said.

With a little Jimmy Buffet from my Parrothead days and some Motown for my soul thrown in, I thought.

Maybe he’s right. But I couldn’t stand the thought of only listening to one type of music. I know some folks do that, but they are missing a lot.

It’s the same thing with my reading. I like variety.

But I must confess that I’m not reading enough books. Seems like I’ve been more on a magazine kick for the past few years.

And newspapers, of course. I realized one Saturday that I read The Clarion-Ledger at home, picked up a Commercial Appeal at lunch and read the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette while visiting my mother at the nursing home.

"Put the paper down," she said.

"Yes ma’am," I answered.

Back on books for a minute.

For any of you who haven’t read "Seabiscuit," I highly recommend it. It was on the bestseller list for ages and the paperback is on that list from time to time.

And, no, it isn’t just "a horse story." The people in it are fascinating, too.

It was a great joy to pick up that book and have it to read one day at the Midland-Odessa Airport where a bunch of Southwest Airlines flights had been diverted during big thunderstorms that had the Dallas airport shut down.

Seabiscuit was a horse who captured the country’s imagination as he ran race after race. It was all listened to on the radio … it was before television, or at least before any sort of widespread TV existed.

Mostly I read non-fiction. I like history. I like true crime, too. So does my mother who worries that because she likes crime stories some folks may think there’s something wrong with her head.

I told her if there is something wrong with her head for reading those books and watching A&E and Court TV then something’s wrong with lots of folks’ heads.

My brother would think my magazine subscriptions are weird, too.

I thought about that recently when I read two magazine stories the about discount retailing giant Wal-Mart.

One was in Fortune and the other in Mother Jones.

Needless to say, the stories took different looks at the corporation.

Fortune focused on the dollars and how large the company is was well as what it is like for a vendor to deal with the company.

Wal-Mart sales on one day last year fall – $1.42 billion – were larger than the gross domestic product of 36 countries.

That leaves me to pose a question: Why doesn’t Wal-Mart provide health insurance for all their employees, hire more full-time workers and pay them more?

Mother Jones focused on the people … making low wages and it took a look at allegations by some workers that they have to work off the clock for no pay or fear losing their jobs.

Wal-Mart denies this is so.

It also told how the company freaks and sends out a special team anytime some employees even dream about the word … union.

From the standpoint of the company’s shear size, there were some mind-boggling numbers in the Fortune article.

These include:

– 36% percent of the dog food sold in the U.S. is bought from a Wal-Mart as does 26% of the toothpaste and 32% of the disposable diapers.

The theft numbers at Wal-Mart I found to be staggering.

If the estimated $2 billion it loses through theft each year were incorporated as a business, it would rank No. 694 on the FORTUNE 1,000.

 


(Kate Dickson can be reached by email at: editor@panolian.com)