October 16, 2005

JibJab Takes on Wal-Mart and Costco

Big Box Mart is the first short JibJab has made that doesn't strike out at both sides of a given issue. It's a provocative little piece about trade, and how our addiction to cheap goods affects the American economy. It's protectionist, sure; however, the butt of the joke is called "Big Box Mart," which implies not just the reflexive lefty hatred of Wal-Mart, but also criticism of the "bix box" stores such as Costco (where my "enlightened" friends go to save money).

Posted by Attila at October 16, 2005 03:45 AM | TrackBack

If you read "The Agenda" by Bob Woodward, it shows how Hillary Clinton was on the board of directors for Wal-Mart in Arkansas, where is have been shown how she helped the company set into place the system to get tax incentives and other ways to escape most of their tax obligations. So I find it quite ironic that the Democrats today whine and complain about the power of Wal-Mart, its wealth, not forming unions, health insurance problems, discrimination of women. If the Democrats had been involved in setting up a good plan for Wal-mart (including Hillary) from the beginning instead of how to use loopholes, they might have something to be proud of. Here we are 10 years later, with Democrats/liberals/tree huggers/environmentalists/anti-business people still complaining about Wal-Mart. Now remember, it was the Democrats in charge of that little town which tried to take away the homes of people to make way for condos and business to generate more tax revenue. The Supreme Court ruled with the liberals and the moderates on the side against property rights, so if you all want to be mad, be mad at the Democrats. Do some research, get the facts, don't just pop off with emotion based on what you think is the way it is. And if you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shopt there and stand up against them building in your area. People have stopped it from sucking all the business away from small town business, and protecting land areas from water problems with too much run-off water displaced by the vast acres of concrete. Good stuff to discuss, Miss Attila.

Posted by: Crystal Dueker at October 16, 2005 07:26 AM

A whole slew of big box stores tried it the last 25 years but didn't make it. Walmart seems to have it right, but even they have no guarantee. Just airlines have guarantees.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at October 16, 2005 12:08 PM

I like Wal-Mart because they give me a good price without making me buy 2-3 times the quantity I need. At Costco it's easy to go in, spend half my month's grocery money, and not check everything off on the shoppng list. Then I have to store the extra.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 16, 2005 03:44 PM

Anyone seriously interested in offshoring issues should read "End of the Line" by Barry Lynn. I don't mostly agree with his policy prescriptions, but it's a far more intelligent analysis than most of the stuff written on the subject.

Posted by: David Foster at October 16, 2005 04:16 PM

Americans do not want to work the assembly line jobs that are required to make the goods that stock the WalMart shelves. Not even for a "living wage". If we really wanted the jobs to stay in the US, a robust guest worker program could go a long way toward keeping the factories here instead of over there.

I cringe whenever I have to venture into WalMart for something, but at least I recognize that it is just classist snootiness and not some pretend "principle" that makes me feel that way. If these so-called "compassionate" liberals were really so compassionate, they'd realize that WalMart does a great service to the lower and middle class by providing goods that they could not easily afford at the boutique shops and specialty stores the leftists seem to be so eager to preserve.

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 16, 2005 09:48 PM

DesertCat..."Americans do not want to work the assembly line jobs"--I don't think this is really true. Why would assembly line jobs in a well-run factory be less desirable than retail jobs at Burger King, Wal-Mart, or even Best Buy?

I visited the BMW assembly plant in South Carolina not too long ago. They said that there is a long waiting line of people who would like to work there, and that a new employee can be making about $50K after a couple of years (which I think includes modest overtime)..this in a fairly low cost-of-living area.

Bear in mind also that a manufacturing facility typically involves much more than assembly-line jobs. There are highly skilled trades, such as tool-and-die makers, and knowledge workers, such as production planners and industrial engineers.

Posted by: David Foster at October 17, 2005 07:54 AM

Because I've worked in my share of factories doing assembly work a few decades ago. There is nothing more mind-numbing and grinding than assembling widgets for 8 hours a day 5 days a week. We're not talking about BMW plants here (last time I checked, Walmart doesn't carry high end sports cars...). High end products can command enough of a premium to make the jobs to produce them very attractive. Walmart specializes in affordable consumer goods.

Having engineers and toolmakers and production planners does not negate the fact that some poor schmuck has to insert Tab A into Slot B over and over and over and over and over and over and...

Try it sometime. You'll see what I mean. If I had to choose between the two, I would far rather stock shelves or help someone pick out a new computer component at Best Buy than to ever do assembly work again. I am an Engineer now for a very good reason.

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 17, 2005 08:32 AM

We've brought in more jobs than we've offshored. That's a net gain in jobs.

Plus we get cheap chips and DVD players, and eighteen colors of lycra stretch pants.

Screw JibJab.

Posted by: Jeff G at October 17, 2005 06:51 PM

That's right, I said it. SCREW JIBJAB!

Posted by: Jeff G at October 17, 2005 06:53 PM

Desert Cat...thanks for the comments. i'd observe that there are lots of people whose skills and interests aren't primarily verbal, and who would not be a good fit for the sales floor at Best Buy. True, there *are* some possibilities for such people in the retail industry, for example, working in the distribution center. But is running a forklift at a retail distribution center really a better job than running a forklift at the parts receiving department in a factory? or better than an assembly job at that factory?

My main point is that the distinction between "manufacturing" and "service" is not a good proxy for the distinction between "good jobs" and "bad jobs." There are plenty of good and bad jobs in both areas (bearing in mind, of course, that "good" and "bad" has a lot to do with individual skills and interests)

Posted by: David Foster at October 17, 2005 08:14 PM


Posted by: Jeff G at October 17, 2005 09:32 PM

Yes to the forklift job being superior to the assembly job. That position would be coveted in most factories by the drones on the lines. Sure some people are better suited for certain jobs than others, but I never knew anyone who dreamed of their first assembly line job following graduation. Everyone I knew had higher aspirations for themselves. Some of them worked out, some of them didn't. Some like me had to take that kind of work until other things panned out. No one looked forward to thirty-five years of service at the plastics extrusion plant. There was a good reason that place was staffed mostly by temps.

I agree with you regarding the false distinction. Technically engineering could be considered a "service sector" job, as I am not actually producing the final product (though I often oversee those who do).

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 17, 2005 10:38 PM

Screw JibJab. Funny but essentially stupid and off the mark in this case.

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 17, 2005 10:40 PM

Hang on. Before we screw JibJab completely, how do you feel about their statement on the destructive nature of consumerism for some people? That is, if you remove the (implied) political and economic arguments from the short, does it still have something to say about Western culture, and unhealthy use of unsecured credit?

Can we just give JibJab a blowjob until we sort this out?

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 17, 2005 11:14 PM

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