The Clintons and Wal-Mart: A Dach for Payola from Bentonville

Wal-Mart announced a pay boost for its lowest wage employees at certain undisclosed stores. Sounds good, right? Well, read on.
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(NOTE: I advertently misspelled Mr. Dach's name in my original post, for which I apologize. Thanks to readers for catching the misspelling. The content is nevertheless dead on.)

The LA Times reports this morning that Wal-Mart has scored yet another Clintonista, since the Senator herself is no longer able to serve on the corporate Board. For a mere $3 million in stock, plus another $375,000 or so in options (that's estimated profit), plus an undisclosed salary that we can bet is higher than your average cashier, Wal-Mart hired its newest flack, this one named Leslie Dach. Mr. Dach, according to the Times, had "wide ranging communications duties during the Clinton administration."

I certainly don't begrudge anyone a decent wage. I'm sure Mr. Dach has obligations to meet. After all, he'll have to buy a new house in Bentonville and think of the cost of buying all of those groceries at Wal-Mart to stock the new side by side Sub Zeros. And what about those high gas prices for commuting to work? Yep, Mr. Dach will have to save up to live well in the hometown of the world's largest private employer.

And that's just the point. As we illustrated last year in Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Wal-Mart seems perfectly happy to assure that its founding family retains their number one status on the world's richest list (it's only a hundred billion or so, but hey, at least it's all in the family). And while CEO Lee Scott seems to like bunking with buddies in a motel room in New York City to save $100 for the company, he's not giving back any of his annual multi-million pay package. Nor is he foregoing a ride on the fleet of jets. And it's not just that he and his colleagues are screwing the employees. They've done a right good job of leveling the shareholders. The only movement for Wal-Mart stock in the last six or so years has been down. That's worth a big bonus to Lee Scott, right?

So Wal-Mart seems fully capable of making a few people, including Mr. Dach, very rich. And it is trying ever so hard to use a tissue of lies to respond to the criticism the film generated last year. But let's look at the facts. A week or so ago, Wal-Mart announced a pay boost for its lowest wage employees at certain undisclosed stores. Sounds good, right? Well, read on. Even though it could hire Mr. Dach for what is almost certainly a pay package well in excess of $2 million a year to spin Wal-Mart's Chinese slave labor manufactured corporate yarn, the Company has informed the rest of its cashiers and clerks that there will be no raises for those who have been there the longest.

Let's follow the money. Wal-Mart announces that it will increase the wages of some. In the fine print, it announces that it will never increase the wages of most. The net effect is to force the higher paid, long time employees to leave the company. That's a roll back of the first order, leading to a big plus to the Company's bottom line and a big slap to its employee's bottoms.

Wal-Mart is run by smart guys (women need not apply to the management ranks). They understand that the key to winning in their world is to change the subject. So they hired Andrew Young, the first African American US ambassador to the UN to sell the yarn to black people that Wal-Mart is their friend. How did the reverend do that? By telling African Americans that Wal-Mart is better for them because Jewish, Korean and Arab grocers "ripped them off" by selling them "stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables." Mr. Young resigned from Wal-Mart the same day he made those inclusionary, Christian remarks. And today's LA Times reports that the California Korean grocers association is suing Wal-Mart for defamation and libel. Subject not changed. Dach hired to try again.

Maybe Mr. Dach will earn his money spinning the yarn. But why take the bribe, Mr. Dach? Why not just say to Wal-Mart, as a principled former member of the Clinton Administration, that if Wal-Mart will pay its employees fair wages, provide them with medical care, stop discriminating against women and people of color and start acting like a good corporate citizen, that you'll take the money to tell the real story? Otherwise, see the film and forget the yarn. A Dach toward for the money, no matter how much, does not a noble man make.

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