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08 November, 2011

Occupy Walmart

One of the litmi of the Left is Walmart. "I Don't Shop at Walmart" stickers appear on bumpers of old Volvos, Prius's, and other awkward-to-pluralize brands preferred by progressives. Labor protests the poor wages (poorer still if you are a woman) and the anti-union stance of the company. Liberals smirk and giggle at that People of Walmart website.

And strangely enough, it works in the other direction as well. The Right--or at least the rank and file, the commoners with the votes, the LumpenRight--shops at Walmart. Scoop up them Asian goods, even though it meant your brother got laid off. Buy that beflaggled patriot wear and the disney princess crap. Squint and grunt at them commies who would let unions into Walmart. Swipe the card while Walmart swipes your paychecks. And for God's sake, vote Republican.

So, with this powerful symbol of piratical capitalism run amok, amidst every community with a 15 acre pad site and the critical mass of consumer households to offer, we are occupying parks? Parks?! Land that already belongs to the public?

Granted, marching into a Wall Street Bank or a Walmart Street retail establishment and setting up a tent invariably results in arrests, whereas most cops are just letting the protesters stay in the parks, entertaining themselves at the seeming cluelessness of some college kids, and the un-bra'd chests of others. Occupying private property is frowned upon in the US, and it's really hard to imagine Occupy Walmart lasting more than a few days, ending in the ozone and burnt hair aromatic aftermath of taser fests of the rent-a-cops and eventually the real ones.

But, we can protest outside. We can hold up signs about jobs outsourced and landfills bursting, about grandpa serving his country and working all his life only to be humiliated as Greeter because he cannot afford retirement. OK, that's a long sign, but you know what I mean.

And, stealthily, we can protest inside. Pick up something and replace it on the wrong shelf. Try on the maximum number of clothes every time, ask for assistance, do whatever it takes to make the workers work more, because that's the only way they'll get more hours and more cash, the only way Walmart will create more jobs (crappy though they may be). Get yourself hired there, and then invite in a union. Go in and apply stickers with "This Used to be Made in America" or some other clever shit I cannot think of right now.

Or not. You don't need to sneak and snivel. Get in their face. Rouse the rabble, yell crazy stuff or go all yippie-theater on them 'til they escort you off the premises, making everyone there a little freaked out, a little less inclined to hang around and spend more. You don't even have to go there physically, just write letters to the editor, blog, expend your own breath ranting and exhorting (or, if you are not a blowhard like myself, riffing reasoning). Talk to your Walmart-shopping friends about how the place sucks money out of localities (not just what you spend there, but jobs lost, taxes unpaid, resources expended on their behalf, not to mention that act that someone who works at Walmart is eligible for welfare because the pay is so shitty).

Occupy Walmart however you see fit. Squelching the flow of customers, shaming the company in the public eye (all you gotta do is tell the truth for that to work), or advocating for their workers. Whatever you want to do. Just don't buy anything there.

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