Chris J Powell

Digital Activism – Are we Really Paying Attention?

I sat here this morning what I would do for a post and was thumbing through some Facebook Posts and I came across an interesting load of crap that had been thrown in the general direction of Mike Rowe…you may know him from his Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs.  It would appear that because Mike took a job narrating a commercial that was sponsored by WalMart he has become the target of a campaign designed to villify him in the “Court of Public Opinion” by an organization called Jobs With Justice.

This Image from Mike Rowe's Facebook Page
This Image from Mike Rowe’s Facebook Page

I took the time to read through the response that Mike posted on his Facebook Page and can honestly say that it made me more than just a little sick to my stomach to think that Jobs With Justice could be so blind to the fact that there is little if nothing that Mike Rowe did that was wrong when he took a paid gig as a narrator for the Wal-Mart Sponsored Commercial (that by the way does not point to WalMart at all):

When I watch this 60 second spot, I see a plea for ALL companies to remember where they got there start, and to take a step back from the bottom line and return jobs and manufacturing to “America”.  Ok, that is a good concept and all, but I think that one major point that Jobs With Justice has, is that every “Job” should be getting top dollar and that they are trying to end concept that this will be the first Generation of North American’s who have a lower Standard of Living than our Parents.

Fair Enough but at what expense?  We do live in a global economy and we all buy things that we need or want that starts with a keen focus on price and the reality is, the unsustainable increase in wages (in every sector) really does prevent us as North Americans from being competitive in the global market.

I am not an economist, nor do I think that I have all the answers but this message goes to Jobs With Justice directly…what do you think will really happen if every WalMart Employee starts making $25.00 per hour…do you think that the prices of every product in the stores would not go up accordingly? According to some reports, increasing the wage of all WalMart employees to $12.50 will only increase the average bill of shoppers by $0.46…I find that hard to believe but that is what the Interwebz says.

Do I think that companies like WalMart take advantage of the economy and keep their employees under their thumbs, oppressed and without a voice…well no not really but I do think that they understand all too well how the prices of the products that they sell 100% effect the way that they do business.

I took a step back and looked some of the problems with WalMart that are really, all over the Internet but I suspect that in looking at the at the general complaints it is all about how hard it is to get ahead in the company. I took a quick scan of the statistics and found:

Screenshot of WalMart Salaries
Screenshot of WalMart Salaries

So if we are to compare Walmart and its 1.4 Million Employees and then we look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics own Data:

Quick Facts: Retail Sales Workers
2012 Median Pay$21,410 per year
$10.29 per hour
Entry-Level EducationLess than high school
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 20124,668,300
Job Outlook, 2012-2210% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22450,200

In looking at these two things, does Walmart pay less than the US National Average…maybe a little bit, but then I took another quick step back and remembered back to my days of working for Sobeys Canada (a Super Market here in Canada) and like WalMart we were not unionized…but the “Student” Workforce there was about 60% of the total employees.

There is a real question though about why people work at WalMart if it really is such a bad place to work?  Why would anyone work for such a low wage…well no offense but in looking at those same statistics and the fact that for those entry level positions…”Less than High School” being the education bar…do these people who are trying to stand up for the rights of the oppressed WalMart employee really think that their skill set deserves to have higher wages? back to the world of Digital Activism.  The world of Social Media has changed how we collectively listen to each other but now we are pounded at every opportunity by offers and pleas for assistance.  Every one of the world’s problems now becomes ours because it is on Facebook or we got Tweeted.  It all becomes noise…and I know for me…my filter is now set VERY, VERY high.

So what about this whole Mike Rowe thing?  Well I can say that I have NO problem with his commercial and his right to take money from any company that wants to pay him but the reality is that the whole message actually ties back to his most recent endeavor…one that I can really support:

MRW-Logo-Transparency-21His Foundation “mikeroweWorks“is all about giving the “under employed” an opportunity to get the skills needed to move forward into a new career/trade.  In looking through his Facebook Posts and the Foundation as a whole, I will agree with his statement that we are “Profoundly Disconnected” and I believe that for all of us, everywhere it is time to take a slice of humble pie and start living by the words portrayed in this making of video:

So in conclusion I have this to say, and with this being the first real “Smack the Stupid” post…I say to Jobs With Justice…smarten up and don’t beat on the messenger…go after the message!!!



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