Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walocaust Denial

A computer store owner in Georgia is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame because of his Walocaust and Wal-Qaeda websites.

Charles Smith, the computer store owner, has also designed some satirical bumperstickers and shirts. Wal-Mart sued him for trademark infringement.

Wal-Mart lost. For several reasons. Here's The Machinist from

"The fact that the real Wal-Mart name and marks are strong and recognizable makes it unlikely that a parody -- particularly one that calls to mind the genocide of millions of people, another that evokes the name of a notorious terrorist organization ... will be confused with Wal-Mart's real products," wrote U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.

The second reason:

As the AP points out, the judge also noted that very few people were even interested in Smith's charming work: He has only sold 62 T-shirts, 15 of them to Wal-Mart's law firms.

They aren't that funny.
What was Charles Smith's motivation in comparing a wildly popular retail chain to the second-worst atrocity in the twentieth century? Here's The Machinist again:

By the way, I bet you're interested in Smith's justification for appropriating Holocaust imagery for his anti-corporate tirade. On, he writes, "I worry that by even implying that anything could compare to the horror of the Holocaust, the worst tragedy in history, I cheapen the term." But then Smith saw a report "on the TV about how many goods Wal-Mart was importing from China and how many jobs this cost America."

Before I ask the big question, I have to issue a full disclosure....I work for a Wal-Mart supplier.

(Insert audible gasp here....)

We also supply Kroger's, Albertson's, Winn-Dixie, Publix, HEB, Giant Eagle, Joe Bob's Choke'n'Puke, and some places you've never heard of in Mexico and Canada. Australia. The Dominican Republic. Italy. Germany. The World.

We ship to all these places because we are 1) smart, 2) damn good, and 3) we're usually fast.

That's our competitive advantage.

China ships products to a lot of places because they have 1) time, 2) time, and 3) time.

They have lots and lots of people with oodles and boodles of time. Time is so plentiful there that it's cheap. That's their competitive advantage.

That's why Wal-Mart purchases a lot of things from China. We do too. And my employer has doubled its number of U.S. employees since we began sourcing some repetitive parts from China. Doing that was yet another competitive advantage for us.

You benefit from competitive advantages every day. How much more would you be willing to pay for a cell phone that was 100% manufactured in your hometown? Home state? Nation? How about a home-grown iPod?

Locavores, would you be willing to pay twice as much for regional gasoline?

Yes, I admit it. It's not rosy for everyone. When you're the displaced worker, it hurts. Bad. Some people never recover from getting Globalized. But the pluses, in my opinion, far outweigh the minuses. One of the pluses is the computer you're using to read this. You can afford it because it was made by people whose only competitive advantage is....time. Their time isn't worth as much as yours and mine. (Gross Generalization: if you're reading this in English, your time is worth more than that of an Asian assembly line worker.)

Charles Smith, the computer store owner from Conyers, Georgia, apparently dislikes Wal-Mart enough to devote two websites to Wal-Mart's downfall.

His stated reason: Wal-Mart imports products from China.

Can someone in Conyers, Georgia, visit this guy's store and let me know where his computers were made?

I'm just curious.....I bet it's someplace a long way from Conyers, Georgia.


Anonymous said...

Sepulchre -

What's your take on the latest Walmart disgrace?

Walmart employee involved in auto accident.

Walmart insurance pays huge medical bills.

Woman sues truck company that caused accident.
Woman wins case. Judge awards her 40,000 plus.

Walmart health insurance policy has clause....if an employee files suit against the person(s) which caused the employee pain and suffering and wins, Walmart can re-coup what it's health insurance company paid-out for the employees medical bills.

The Walmart employee went to court to keep her money.

The judge decided in Walmart's favor.

What's several thousand dollars to Walmart?

Footnote. A few months before this criminal ordeal with Walmart, the womans son was killed in Iraq.

Another of the dozens of reasons I don't shop at Walmart.
I've darkend the doors of a Walmart only twice.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment.

This is because of a fairly common insurance concept called "subrogation".

It basically means that if an insurance company pays a claim, and then another entity (a different insurance company, a court, the Angel Gabriel) also pays the claim or its equivalent, the insurance company with the subrogation clause is entitled to either a) their money back, or b) the other entities money.

It is possible to determine which retailers sell products that are made in China. You go into the store, and look for "Made In China", and then like Mr. Charles Smith of Conyers, Georgia, you can refuse to shop there. Made in China doesn't bother me, but it bothers Mr. Smith.

If insurance subrogation clauses are an "Ender" in your relationship with a retailer, fast food restaurant, car dealership, or taco stand, how do you go about determining which companies have them? Do you ask the cashiers?