Wal-Mart’s Path of Destruction


Utilitarian minds make their decisions based on which perceived outcome brings the most good[1] . That bears the question to how one can choose between two separate decisions that both have positive and negative benefits. An extreme and very common example of a utilitarian situation is if a person would be willing to take the life of one person in order to save 100 others that would perish if he did not follow through with the killing. A much more real example involves the retail giant Wal-Mart and their growth and effect on the American economy. Are lower wages more important to the consumers than a declining small business sector and sub-par working conditions for the Wal-Mart employees? Between the years of 2000 and 2005 Wal-Mart added over 1,100 stores and in 2004 their net sales were up to $276 billion[2] . An even more amazing stat is that in 2002, 82 percent of United States households purchased something from a Wal-Mart[3] . So what seems to be the problem if a majority of the population buys these goods that save them money for other and possibly more important expenses? The problem is that Wal-Mart comes into small towns and shuts down local businesses while at the same time treating their employees poorly and keeping their wages at miniscule rates. Workers fear standing up to the national giant for they squash any unions that attempt to come together and have shown they’re not against firing employees who disagree with the Wal-Mart way[4]. Wal-Mart’s destruction of local economies and poor working conditions for their employees greatly outweighs the good they do through offering low-priced consumer goods to the public. Their consistent attempts to stop unionization and keep benefits at a minimum for their workers is an injustice to the employees that are a necessity for Wal-Mart’s short and long term success. Continue reading


Putting Small Business in a Pickle


Is it time to deal with this piece yet?

After navigating through the quiz, answering questions based on what I guessed the government would do, I got a 7 out of 10, despite not being able to explain any of the answers in depth.  While the overall benefits of the plan shocked my preconceived notions of the act, the implementation of an insurance marketplace and plethora of benefits throughout the program changed my opinion and attracted me to the large changes in the healthcare system.  However, one area of the PPACA regarding small business and employee coverage strikes me as flawed, with a slight inconsistency to the detriment of a select group of employers.

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Small Businesses Beware


I take pride in being informed on major issues that are happening on a domestic and global scale. That is why I am quite embarrassed to say that I was very uneducated about the various nuances of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. My quiz results of six out of ten were not terrible, but in all honesty I kind of guessed on a majority of the answers for I had no idea one way or the other. Many of the answers on the quiz thoroughly surprised me, for they went against some of my perceived notions of the health care bill. Most notably, the fact that the health reform requires that employers with 50 or more employees must pay a fine if they do not offer health insurance. Is this arbitrary number fair? Or does is tie the hands of employers in various instances that include hiring, firing, and the decision to keep people full-time or part-time?

Forbes published an article with a hypothetical situation where a small business struggles with the decision of hiring a 50th and 51st worker that would really help their production, but at the cost of offering every employee health insurance. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? It is a tough question to answer, for every little decision that small businesses make can have drastic consequences on their future success. This also affects big businesses that hope to have a larger full-time workforce. Each new full-time worker is to be provided health insurance in accordance with the new bill. Forbes points out that this could push businesses to hire more part-time workers in order to avoid the insurance payments. The forced benefits for workers are going to have a major effect on job availability when the bill comes into full effect in both smaller and larger businesses.

I personally feel that the specific number of 50 is going to cause more problems than good. Of course for businesses that already house between 100 and 200 employees, this will not be an issue. However, the companies with 45 to 60 employees may start making cuts or demotions to part-time in order to save profits that keep the business afloat. This is a very conservative viewpoint, but the working world can be fickle when it comes to crunch time and jobs can be lost due to owners and managers hoping to save a few extra dollars. This of course is just one of many provisions that Obamacare hopes to accomplish in the upcoming years. Other details such as financial help being given to workers with low to medium income who do not receive insurance through their professions are very noble and have my personal support. It is just difficult to put that pressure on a business owner with such a small workforce and tight budget. However, the fact that a bill has minor details that one may disagree with does not mean the overall act is not worth going forward with. This healthcare reformation will do more good than harm for many people and minor details should not derail the bill.