Tag Archives: labor rights

Walmart: The New American Company Town

In 21st century America, meet the new town center.

In 21st century America, meet the new “neighborhood”  town center.

Few institutions represent the bloated, socially stratified, natural-environment-degrading, corporation-worshipping, beached on a mile-wide parking-lot corpse that is 21st century America better than Walmart. The voracious Aspidochelone from Arkansas is not only the current twentieth most valuable brand on Earth, it’s also the largest employer in America, providing dynamic, food-stamp-assisted careers to some 1.3 million people. Unless you’ve been living under a boulder shamelessly draped with the American flag, you know that Walmart has for years been the subject of controversy. For some, it represents the essence of American freedom, to others, it’s the ultimate symbol of the ethically challenged, cheapness-obsessed, soul-degrading state of modern capitalism.

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Don Blankenship, Triangle Fires, and Plutocracy Unhinged

Former Massey Energy CEO -- and world-class asshat -- Don Blankenship, wraps himself in the flag to give the impression that he cares more about the red, red, and blue than he does the green.

Former Massey Energy CEO — and world-class asshat — Don Blankenship, wraps himself in the flag to give the impression that he cares more about the red, white, and blue than he does the green.

Americans like to talk a good deal about their twin-commitments to both capitalism and democracy, but the relationship between the two systems is, shall we say, fraught with tension. Democracy tries to remind capitalism about the importance of freedom and individual human rights, but, like an anti-domestic violence group trying to lecture the NFL about the importance of respecting women, its success rate is mixed, to say the least. The resulting conflict between corporate profit and human flourishing has burned with the intensity of a coal fire throughout U.S. history — which brings us to Don Blankenship.

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which was one of the country’s biggest coal extractors before Alpha Natural Resources bought it out in 2012. He’s the mustachioed poster-boy for the way capitalism can undermine human rights. Indeed, even when it comes to ignominious plutocrats, Blankenship has all the redeemable qualities of a hacked-up, charcoal colored, black lung induced phlegm wad. He was recently indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to violate federal mine safety regulations and making false claims to the Securities and Exchange Commission — among other counts. Continue reading