Consider a firm, it has 1.4 million employees and 4672 stores in the US. So basically this employer is employing 0.43% of the entire population that makes it an extremely large player. Now, I have been critical of this player in the past on several occasions. A player this big tends to maximise profit at the expense of whatever gets in the way. It is for all extent and purpose, the American way. So what happens when places do not make the cut? What happens when the plug is pulled? Don’t get me wrong, I will not oppose the right of this player to do that, pulling the plug is a business decision, and for the most a valid one. So when I read: ‘What happened when Walmart left‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/09/what-happened-when-walmart-left), we need to ask several questions. The quote “But for the people of McDowell County – proud country folk labouring under the burdens of high unemployment, low income and endemic ill health – even such a fleeting visit to this rural backwater by the world’s largest retailer had a profound impact. Both in the arrival, and in the hasty leaving“, as well as ““All Walmart was interested in was how many millions of dollars they made, they weren’t interested in helping the community,” says McDowell County commissioner Gordon Lambert. “When they didn’t make the profit they wanted, they left.”” Here we see corporate America in action, yet in all this, should we blame Walmart? Personally I say ‘No!’, you see, this is not about what is right, it is what is correct and legal and the US government allowed and pushed for this path for the longest of times. It legally does not matter how rich the owners are, even as I have objected to the level of exploitation, my objection were based on social correctness, legally nothing wrong was done. You see, the first step to blame, if blaming is the proper word would be Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, Terence Richard McAuliffe is an American Democrat, politician and former businessman. As for the other areas, we have Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R) in the Senate, as well as Evan Jenkins (R), David McKinley (R) and Alex Mooney (R) in the House of Representatives. The question is what did they do? What options did they have for those suddenly out of work? You might think that they have nothing to do with this, yet when ONE employer has given 0.43% of the entire population a job, closing 154 stores in 2016-2017, that implies that thousands of jobs are lost, not all of them with the option to be retrenched, so at that point the House of Representatives would have needed to take a long hard look at the alternatives in stopping the creation of ghost towns and derelict business properties. We might not consider the impact or the legality, yet what would have been possible to limit the damage to some extent? There might have been a few options, yet in that certain legalities should be changing in that regard and as such the political side in all this, seems to have been largely too quiet.
The article by Ed Pilkington in McDowell County, West Virginia shows the devastating impact. Some might find it a little too emotional, yet what other side is there? If the political side remains absent, what stories of opportunity are possible? Another quote is ““The Walton family are billionaires,” she said (also no exaggeration – their collective worth is put at about $150bn). “They developed a system that just made us worse off, and then they took even that away from us.”” is not invalid, yet that shows that there is a clear political failure. We can argue the legislative side, yet as the laws are not broken, the US political branch has a clear requirement so alter certain views. It is an essential change towards any employer that has such a powerful grasp on any geographical infrastructure as the one that a player like Walmart has. We see the news on a nearly daily basis that there is a pressing need for Gag orders on search warrants, yet there is no protection on the risk of thousands of people becoming homeless. As given, there is a growing concern that the US is moving towards a phase where the ‘rights to life‘ is being removed from people. I discussed part of this in ‘Confirmation on Arrival‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/07/04/confirmation-on-arrival/), in this “We went from governments, to organisations, we left fair opportunity behind and moved to ‘those who have and those who have not‘, and they are soon to be replaced for the ‘enablers and obstructers‘ and those who are the latter would fall into the shadows and face away.“, when we look at West Virginia, the bulk of these people went from enablers (or those who had), into those who don’t have any longer and are seen as ‘obstructers’ of profit requirements, and now? It seems that the political branch is failing these people as are the better part of the administrative side where those without a job and options fall. The issue is that under the minimalized options that Walmart was allowed to ‘hide’ behind, we see thousands of people who had no option to build any reserves, so as such their plight is even more drastic and diminishing increasingly so.
Yet, is that at present a political issue?
I think it should be, as the administrations catered to the need of maximised profit and took away levels of rational accountability, the large players could walk away. So should Walmart not be allowed to walk away? No, that would be equally wrong, yet for any company to have such a large stake in any location to this extent, means that the political players should have played for a different scenario, where the leaving party would be required to give extended severance packages for a much longer time. In addition, an alternative would be that the county would in fact confiscate all equipment from those local Walmart stores, allowing for the start-up of butchers, grocers and other shops. Small community shops that would give to some extent a longer lasting time and perhaps keep some economy going in McDowell County. Let’s face it, Walmart would have written off this stuff for the longest times. In addition, not allowing for some cheap lease option means that the shops have an actual local commitment. It might not have saved too much, but some saving could have been an option. Even as Walmart walked away because of profitability from their spreadsheet, small local businesses might still have thrived, which meant that McDowell County could see a larger prevention into becoming a ghost town. There is no guarantee here, yet in all this, how would the pressure be on places like Asheville, Hickory and Morganton and as certain start-up phases are instigated, would that also benefit those places? More important, could the negative drag be minimised in this way? Consider the quotes we see in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, where earlier this year we see ‘Education, technology focus of Gov. McAuliffe’s visit to SWCC‘ (at http://www.bdtonline.com/news/education-technology-focus-of-gov-mcauliffe-s-visit-to-swcc/article_9a6356be-3f60-11e7-9b53-5bcd6e225a58.html), now consider the impact merely an hour away where thousands of jobs are lost. What would be the education impact, both in retaining students as well as gaining new ones? These are the real life local challenges and a strong political support system is essential in preventing such infrastructure disasters. If the impact of Walmart was so big, why allow this place to be lost, even if that means getting independent providers to retaining business? If one Walmart is a grocer, baker, butcher, electronic store, a gun shop, a furniture store, a liquor store, a sports store, a clothing store and with their large infrastructure making some profit, there is no way that small 1-2 family stores could not take over the bulk of business needed and not make a profit. What level of non-Walmart retrenching was in place? Was there any in place?
So as I go back to the article with “It was a big thing for people round here when Walmart pulled out. People didn’t know what to do. Young people started leaving because there’s nothing for them here. It’s like we exist, but we’re not existing.”“, in addition there is “She remembers the excitement when the supercentre opened. “People welcomed it with open arms, we needed the jobs,” she said“, the question is not merely the jobs, it is about the consumption and the people buying. So what if that one large box becomes a large box with 20 small stores? The building is there, the power connections are there. Could it be retrenched as a small mall? The statistics shows the decline from 100,000 to 20,000 a coal fell away, yet 20,000 people still need goods, they need clothes and food, in the end it might be cheaper for the government to consider side steps instead of letting it fall away, and in all this Walmart loses a vote of rights to property. They walked away did they not? It is a written off place and even as their accountants cannot resell or write off, they would have to accept the losses, and they walked out. There might not be a legislative option, yet there should be one, this is why the governor was my numero uno person to point at. He is el-Jefe (Just Everyone’s Friendly Executive) of Virginia and solution driver (or should be). If we can turn this around (extremely speculative), there would finally be a starting point to turn the US economy around. When the presented vulture economy is reduced to a community economy there would be a starting wave of growth. Now, do not expect this to be the actual solution, yet any waves that limits reduction can also be seen as initial growth. It is from those moves that visionaries are grown that will change that wave into actual forms of visionary retail. This has been proven again and again as places like JC Penney started in 1902. That is well over a century ago. I cannot predict what will come next, because the world will be changing in large ways over the coming 10 years, yet as I see it, the larger vultures like Walmart and Target are either transforming or on their way out, mostly they are on their way out as they are trying to consolidate maximised profit, when that happens we see truly see new places grow that are all about personalised customer interactions, and this will start with small stores. This is not about data, this is about interactions and that has forever started with a family business. You see, from the early days we saw that, for every one Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates there were 10 George Dayton’s. This is where the new economy will come from, not from the large iterative players, but from the small innovators. They will not merely build new business; they will keep places like McDowell, VA on the map. It is a first clear requirement for infrastructures not to lose the plot, of where they are on the map (You are here —> X), yes ‘X’ will mark the spot for the new player, and as new options are rising from the ashes, there will be economic movement, small art first, but that is how any train starts, it starts slow! This is in opposition to all those large US players who seem to live of the virtual possibility that they are all AAR Standard S-4200 trains that hold the acceleration of a formula one car. When you realise how short term, stupid, that train of thought is (pun intended), you get to see the first realisation that is drowning the US economy. For the reality is that those who not truly create are merely in the process of instigating decline.
Donald, now President Trump, stated: ‘let’s make America great again‘. In that I agree that it would be possible, yet only if certain ‘truths’ are not just adhered to, but actively supported through government. It might not save places like McDowell, VA, yet it is possible to reduce its decline and give time for the local community to see where growth could be created. It could be the starting template for other communities to follow. You see one Walmart is merely a store, a community is an optional force of nature and when fighting nature you always lose! In history the Dutch are the only ones ever to win a fight against nature and the fight they won was not getting drowned. Those dikes are merely holding back water, yet as the lowest point in the Netherlands is 23 feet BELOW sea-level and when you also consider that 21% of that nation is below sea-level and 50% is merely 3 feet above sea-level, it is one hell of a fight they did win. In the end it was one person, Cornelis Lely (1854-1929) who created the concept in 1891 that would change the war against the sea forever, merely one visionary creator!
So as the party for some of these places have ended, it will be up to the governors of their states to see what changes can be set to alter the future of these areas by first diminishing the recline and allow for time to give birth to the next visionary. They might not just save the state; they could captain a new direction for a nation that is in dire need of a few actual visionaries.