Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Last Call

Dear Wal-Mart: When you cut hours, cut employees, cut wages, cut cut cut to the point where there's not enough people in the store to keep things stocked and clean, people don't care about your "everyday low prices" being a few cents cheaper and they head to your competitors.

Margaret Hancock has long considered the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) superstore her one- stop shopping destination. No longer.

During recent visits, the retired accountant from Newark, Delaware, says she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.

The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it,” said Hancock, 63.

It was raided by the heirs to the Walton family fortune.  They're worth billions and they gotta have more, you know.

Wal-Mart’s loss was a gain for Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Safeway Inc. (SWY), Target Corp. (TGT) and Walgreen Co. (WAG) -- the chains Hancock hit for the items she couldn’t find at Wal-Mart.
“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers. In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart employs about 1.4 million U.S. workers. 

That's right, during the Great Recession, the nation's biggest retailer and employer cut 20,000 jobs but added more than 450 stores.  Why do you think the company's lobbyists are pushing to rid the country of minimum wage?  If the nation's biggest single private sector employer could cut wages to $5 an hour, don't you think they would?  What would hundreds of thousands of "associates" do in this economy, quit?

Wal-Mart is the biggest single employer of minimum wage workers in America.  Think about that for a second.

Then refuse to shop there anymore.

The Long Derpy Arm Of The Law

Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert is still a little fuzzy on the whole "Lawmakers are subject to laws" thing, apparently.

Outspoken Tea Party Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert (TX) got into a late-night altercation with U.S. Park Police over a parking ticket earlier this month. According to Politico, Gohmert attempted to pull rank with the police officers to get out of the citation.

A National Park Service (NPS) police report said that Gohmert’s black Ford SUV was cited at 11:00 p.m. on March 13 for parking in a spot reserved for NPS vehicles at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial. Gohmert, said the report, was “rude and irate” in his confrontation with the officers.

“I was issued a ticket and I am a congressman and parked my vehicle in the NPS parking only because I have a Congress placard, see,” Gohmert said to one officer. “I am going to a meeting on the Hill and I am the one who oversees the National Park Services and Natural Resources.”

Another officer described Gohmert as “ranting.”

“Oversight of Park Service is my job!” he shouted. “Natural resources! Thus the Congressional Plate in the window.”

Telling an officer he “did not have time” to deal with the issue, Gohmert left his business card with the officer holding his ticket, but insisted that he would not pay it. He then drove away.

He's way too important to deal with the likes of the US Park Police.  Expect a bill cutting funding for US Park Police by say, oh, 95%.  That's how the Tea Party rolls, you see.  YOU have to obey liberty and religious freedom, but not Louie here.

Keep that in mind.

Please Hemp Me I'm Falling

Kentucky's legislative session is wrapping up for the year (yes, Kentucky legislators work for approximately 3 months out of the year) and two last minute actions require attention:  first, the much maligned help bill is a go.

Legislators reached a last-hour deal Tuesday to pass a bill to license Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.

The deal between House Democrats and Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, will allow hemp licensing by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission under the control of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Who would do the licensing had been a big snag for House Democrats, who apparently buckled under public pressure.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the bill will leave the hemp commission with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The research functions will be performed by the University of Kentucky.

The House voted 88-4 and sent the bill back to the Senate where it passed 35-1.

Only one small problem:  the federal government has to stop treating hemp as a restricted schedule II drug, there's no difference between hemp and cannabis under DEA protocols right now.  Until that changes (and Kentucky's congressional delegation is pushing for it) this bill's dead in the water anyway.

And speaking of dead in the water, so is logic here in the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky General Assembly voted Tuesday night to overturn Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of controversial legislation known as the "religious freedom" bill, which was opposed by many human and gay rights groups and leaders of some of Kentucky's biggest cities.

The override passed the Democratic House 79-15 and the Republican Senate 32-6.

Rep. Bob Damron, D- Nicholasville, sponsored the bill after the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling last year upholding a state law requiring the Amish to display bright orange safety triangles on their drab buggies so motorists could better see them. Several Amish men in rural Western Kentucky felt so strongly that displaying the triangles violated their religious belief against calling attention to themselves that they went to jail rather than comply with the law.

The legislation protects "sincerely held religious beliefs" from infringement unless there is "a compelling governmental interest."

The bill means that laws in Kentucky now must have a "compelling governmental interest" or you can simply claim that it's conflicting with your First Amendment rights and you shouldn't have to follow the law.  Lawsuits from this are going to cost the state millions, but FREEDOM so hey, let's all join in.

I'll tell you what, the Creation Museum conflicts with my beliefs.  Show me a compelling governmental interest in keeping the place open, right?

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