The Business Of Doing Good
©2007 Nathan Tabor
recent headline points out why it wouldn't be a bad idea to post the Ten
Commandments in our schools.
Rising at U.S. Wal-Mart Stores" noted a recent Associated Press
business story. The article
pointed out that the retailing giant is being hit by a tidal wave of
shoplifting. Employers and
customers alike are hauling out goods without paying for them.
the AP report says that Wal-Mart is not saying much on the record about
the thefts. However, its
inventory is getting smaller and smaller.
The AP surmises that the shrinkage has been caused by
"shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors and supplier
year, Wal-Mart decided it was not going to prosecute minor shoplifting
cases. Instead, it chose to
concentrate on major shoplifting rings.
While the AP claims that Wal-Mart has cuts its security force,
the news organization also reports that the company denies it has
reduced security staff.
course, Wal-Mart, just like any other company, has a right to decide how
best to police shoplifting and fraud.
But I don't think the issue here is whether the company is
cracking down hard enough on thieves.
The real issue is this: some
people walking through Wal-Mart's doors believe that they are entitled
it may seem astounding to think that entitlements now include theft, it
only makes sense, given the permissiveness of our society.
If schools, courthouses, and municipal buildings don't post the
command, "Thou Shalt Not Steal," it stands to reason that
children would grow up believing that stealing isn't all that bad.
union-backed group has apparently indicated that worker discontent is
playing a part in employee theft—a truly mind-boggling claim.
If I'm unhappy with my boss, does that give me the right to steal
from him? Also, it should be
noted that Wal-Mart officials say that employee morale is actually on
the rise, which blows a hole through the theory that staffers are trying
to steal their way to happiness.
should be noted that this problem goes well beyond Wal-Mart.
The National Retail Federation is reporting that theft cost
retail outlets $41.6 billion last year.
Sam Walton once referred to theft as one of retailers' top profit
killers. And it should be
duly noted that anything that kills profits, in the end, kills jobs.
So it's actually in the best interests of worker advocates to do
all they can to condemn employee theft.
instead, we hear rationalizations for employee theft.
Consider this Associated Press quote from a former Wal-Mart
bakery worker in
have news for the former Wal-Mart baker:
many of us—customers and employees alike—disagree with some
of the things that the world's largest retailer does.
But the moral response is not to give tacit approval to stealing
from the store aisles. Because,
in the end, stealing from Wal-Mart doesn't just hurt the big executives.
It hurts the senior citizen trying to earn extra spending money
as a greeter. And it hurts
the family of four down the road trying to buy enough groceries to keep
going. And it hurts the kids
who are looking to us adults to provide some moral compass for their
lives. I would hope that the
lesson to be learned from this is: thou
shalt not steal from Wal-Mart—or anyone else.