December 2, 2008

Wal-Mart Caused Black Friday Tragedy

The NY Times report below attempts to place an ethical question onto this tragedy, but misses the point.
Americans have been brainwashed into believing they are only as good, successful, and worthy as the things they own.
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales present the facts with clarity as well as compassion. Their interview with Patrick Purcell of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 and Savriti D, Director of Rev. Billy's Church of Stop Shopping, discusses the conditions which were created by a corporate giant. Wal-Mart saved money and murdered a man who went to his job one morning but will never go home again.
Wal-Mart Worker Crushed to Death in Early Morning Stampede of Shoppers on Black Friday
A Wal-Mart employee in Long Island, New York died after being trampled to death by a mob of shoppers on Friday, the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season. The 34-year-old worker Jdimytai Damour was killed after a crowd of 2,000 broke down store doors and ran over him shortly before the store"s schedule 5 a.m. opening. Four shoppers were injured in the stampede. Nassau County police were trying to determine what happened during the stampede, but said it was unclear if there would be any criminal charges.
A Shopping Guernica Captures the Moment
Published: November 29, 2008
From the Great Depression, we remember the bread lines. From the oil shocks of the 1970s, we recall lines of cars snaking from gas stations. And from our current moment, we may come to remember scenes like the one at a Long Island Wal-Mart in the dawn after Thanksgiving, when 2,000 frantic shoppers trampled to death an employee who stood between them and the bargains within.
It was a tragedy, yet it did not feel like an accident. All those people were there, lined up in the cold and darkness, because of sophisticated marketing forces that have produced this day now called Black Friday. They were engaging in early-morning shopping as contact sport. American business has long excelled at creating a sense of shortage amid abundance, an anxiety that one must act now or miss out.
Americans demonstrate acceptable behavior learned during the Reagan-BushCo. years
[…] After 9/11, President Bush dispatched Americans to the malls as a patriotic act. When the economy faltered early this year, the government gave out tax rebate checks and told people to spend. In a sense, those Chinese-made flat-screen televisions sitting inside Wal-Mart have become American comfort food.
And yet the ability to spend is cnstricting rapidly. Credit card limits are getting cut. Millions of Americans now owe the bank more than the value of their homes, making further borrowing impossible. The banks themselves are hunkered down, just hoping to survive.
[…] Wages for most Americans have fallen in real terms over the last eight years. Pensions have been turned into 401(k) plans that have just relinquished half their value to an angry market. Health benefits have been downgraded or eliminated altogether. Working hours are being slashed, and full-time workers are having to settle for jobs through temp agencies.
Indeed, this was the situation for the unfortunate man who found himself working at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. Friday, a temp at a company emblematic of low wages and weak benefits, earning his dollars by trying to police an unruly crowd worried about missing out. […]


Catherine said...

Shoppers should take no responsibility? The store manager? The police?

free2be2cool said...

Of course, everyone is responsible for choosing good behavior over anti'social behavior. However, the point here is that those who set up a situation with the potential for danger are ultimately responsible if something dangerous happens.
If you go to the theatre and there is a fire but only one exit, who is to blame if people panic? Wal-Mart couldn't afford more than one security guard on the day they expected the most customers? Baloney!

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