Here’s a little good-news story you might not have heard about, especially if you get most of your news from the mainstream news outlets like network television. Wal-Mart has announced plans to spend $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years. And that’s not all, the company also plans to hire more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years and help its part-time workers move into full-time positions. All this to address the sluggish U.S. economy and help put more people back to work.
Wal-Mart says it will provide jobs to every veteran who had been honorably discharged in the first 12 months off active duty. These veterans had served in Afghanistan and Iraq and have had a difficult time finding work for themselves after returning. Wal-Mart, through this initiative, will offer jobs mostly in its stores, either in Sam’s Club locations, or in its Arkansas-based headquarters, or in the company’s distribution centers. Not only that, but Wal-Mart plans to give an option to its part-time workers to get much higher earning potential by transitioning into full-time workers in the Wal-Mart stores if they so desire.
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the country, maybe anywhere, and now they are the most patriotic as well. The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is about 10.8 percent, compared with the 7.9 percent national rate. On domestic sourcing, the company will grow U.S. manufacturing on two fronts: by increasing what it already buys here – in categories like sporting goods, apparel basics, storage products, games, and paper products, and by helping to onshore U.S. production in high potential areas like textiles, furniture, and higher-end appliances.
The White House has agreed to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and major U.S. employers in the coming weeks to train and employ America’s returning veterans in order to help Wal-Mart with their initiative. “Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make,” said Wal-Mart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon. “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They’re quick learners and team players. They are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.” All this will begin on Memorial Day.
Of course the Wal-Mart haters have been quick to put down Wal-Mart’s initiatives, saying that it’s all nothing but a PR stunt. Really? Offering every single returning vet a job is nothing but a PR stunt? Spending $50 billion on American-made products is nothing but a PR stunt? If that’s the case, then what this country needs are more companies engaging in these kinds of PR stunts. If only more companies and businesses across the country followed Wal-Mart’s lead think what a tremendous difference it would make to the economy.
But Wal-Mart has always been an easy target for those on the Left because it has been so successful and grown so big. The Left hates capitalism in general and they really hate highly successful capitalism in particular. They also hate anything that the bourgeois are into, like Wal-Mart. If the masses like it, it must be bad. Okay, but here’s the thing, no one forces anyone to shop at Wal-Mart; people can buy their stuff anywhere they want.
So go ahead, shop at the high-end boutiques and retail stores but when you do, ask them if they plan to hire every single returning vet who wants a job and buy more American-made products anytime in the foreseeable future. If you ask the clueless clerk, you will get a confused deer-in-the-headlights look, so ask the store manager. Guess what? You’ll get the exact same look from the store manager.
Granted Wal-Mart is so big that it can pursue these initiatives more easily than other, smaller companies can, but there’s no reason why others couldn’t do something like this in proportion to their size. Many large companies have philanthropic arms set up for charities, but this is different. What Wal-Mart is attempting to do is help build back the American economy and offer our returning American servicemen and women a way back into the mainstream of civilian life.
That’s why I say well done, Wal-Mart. You’ve set the bar high. Let’s hope that others jump in with similar goals. In the meantime God bless you and good luck.