Point counter point: Does Wal-Mart roll back prices or roll over communities? (Ferrera)

Growing up in Massachusetts, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a Wal-Mart. It’s where the “white trash” shopped. Since moving to Utah, I have fallen in love with the super store: lowest prices in the valley and one-stop shopping for everything from milk to a bath rug. It’s a poor college student’s dream! I am religious about my Wal-Mart attendance.

I know many claim Wal-Mart treats employees like sub-humans, but they’re helping the little guy, not hurting him.

Enormous growth in the last 15 years has made the Arkansas company an inevitable target of criticism. It employs more than 1.2 million workers, had $256 billion in sales last year and runs more than 3,500 super centers in the United States. Wal-Marts can also be found in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

Wal-Mart brings jobs. In each community it moves into, 300 to 400 jobs become available. I live in Holladay, and there are 10 Wal-Marts within an 11-mile radius of my apartment. That’s 3,000 to 4,000 jobs for people in my neighborhood. Members of the college community can work there while earning their degrees; what could be better?

Hateful people who can’t stand the happy yellow faces also complain that Wal-Mart abuses its employees by paying them minimum wage and working many employees at hours just below the “benefits” line. This is simply untrue. People who WISH they could work for Wal-Mart make up these vicious lies.

According to Walmartfacts.com, 74 percent of Wal-Mart associates are working full-time and receiving an average wage of $9.86 an hour (higher in urban areas). That is well above the national minimum wage and better than any job I’ve ever had in Utah. When there’s no other option, Wal-Mart could be your saving grace.

Health care is available to both full and part-time employees and is fairly reasonable. A single individual can pay as little as $17.50 a month for care (families as low as $70.50). That’s a bargain! That “roll-back prices” philosophy also translates into keeping costs down for employees.

Last year, Wal-Mart reimbursed more than 600 employees for costs associated with GED completion and provided day-care services to many with children.

If nothing else, Wal-Mart is a classic place to go with roommates at 2 a.m. and cause trouble. If you’ve never done this, drop the paper immediately and run to your car so you too can experience the fun of Wal-Mart.

Here are some suggestions:

-Re-dress the mannequins as you see fit.

-Ride a display bicycle through the store; claim you are taking it for a test drive.

-Dart around suspiciously while humming the “Mission Impossible” theme song.

-Walk up to an employee and say, “I think we’ve got a code three in housewares,” and see what happens.

-Play soccer with some friends, using the ENTIRE store as your playing field.

-Walk through the jewelry department and say, “who buys this crap?” (I actually got a ring from there once, I nearly died.)

Regardless of what critics say about my home-away-from-home, I will continue shopping there until I either hit the mega-bucks or marry a millionaire.

Even then I might be tempted to keep on shopping.

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