BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
No, this is not about the rebirthing Ottoman Empire as embodied in Turkey’s much touted “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy, nor as manifested in the now-cancelled Hollywood appearance of the Ottoman marching band (see below the body of this article for a few comments on this turn of events). This is about Walmart.
Walmart is the biggest corporation in the world. With that kind of size, comes great responsibility, unless, of course, you’re Walmart and shirk that responsibility. And, you keep shirking, and shirking, and shirking…
Then, when people start saying “ENOUGH”, catching on to your vile business model, and working against the opening of Walmart stores in new location, you, as the New Evil Empire, find clever ways to get around people’s ability to stop you.
This is what’s happening now in Burbank. Walmart has purchased the building that previously housed “Great Indoors”, limiting people’s ability to constrain the behemoth through zoning and other discretionary tools available to cities wishing to protect the quality of life of their residents, small business owners’ livelihoods, and the jobs of people in the broader area.
Studies have shown that for every job Walmart creates (one of the selling points the behemoth uses to market itself), one-and-a-half jobs disappear! Crime increases in the vicinity of Walmart stores. The small businesses in the area can’t compete with the prices Walmart sets, and they go under. And, if for whatever reason Walmart is dissatisfied with a particular store’s performance, it will be shut down and often kept vacant and unsold, so no one else can move in, thus creating conditions ripe for blight.
All this is to be endured for the “privilege” of paying low prices. But have you ever wondered how those low prices are possible? (Think: “the HIGH cost of low price”). Walmart squeezes it’s suppliers/manufacturers, causing those outfits in turn to maintain abusive working conditions, sweatshops and the like, where people are locked inside and have died when they couldn’t evacuate (in this, Walmart is not alone, but it is a MAJOR contributor to the slave-labor-like conditions extant in many developing countries’ factories). They also cause much environmental damage because of their business model (though to be fair, of late they have taken some tiny steps in the right direction because they think it looks good for them and will make them more money).
And what of the employees in Walmart’s stores? They’re not much better off. Their wages are often at poverty levels. They can’t afford the health insurance Walmart offers (it comes out to nearly half their wages!) so they end up using emergency rooms and government provided care, at everyone else’s expense. A class-action case recently reached the U.S. Supreme Court in which 1.5 million women said they were treated unequally (the court ruled they couldn’t constitute a class, but not on the merits of the discrimination they claimed).
Why should we care? It’s simple. Many Armenians are small business owners and live in Burbank, Glendale, North Hollywood, Sun Valley, etc. that would be impacted by the opening of this Walmart store. This is of course in addition to just plain doing the right thing. There’s a Facebook page you can access. Please join the effort to find a way to block Walmart from opening its maw to suck out the life of Burbank and surroundings.
Briefly, regarding the Ottoman marching band, we should celebrate this victory, but recognize how close we were to disaster. Had they performed, it would have been a foot in the door to a slowly growing Turkish propaganda presence in the heart of the largest Armenian community outside Armenia and Russia.
Many people, friends in and out of City Hall worked to amend the street closure permit given to the murderous marchers. Even a State Senator’s office was involved. When they were forced onto the sidewalk, they cancelled the event, PROVING their real goal was hateful incitement of the Armenian community. What’s really repulsive is the “oh-my-gawsh-we-never-imagined-this-would-be-offensive” BS emanating from the Pacifica Institute as reported in the LATimes (“Protest ends Hollywood parade plan”, Jason Wells, September 30, p.AA4). They even had the audacity to claim they explored the possibility of including “other cultures” in the parade, but couldn’t pull that off in time!
This “cultural” angle is the approach the Turks are using to gain a foothold. The murderous marchers are in town because of the “Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival” to be held in Orange County October 6-9. This is a perfect example of cultural thievery, and must be addressed, too.