Wal-Mart To The Rescue!

A lot of people love to bash big box retailers in general and Wal-Mart in particular for being too-powerful, uncaring, corporate dictators who revel in doing as little good as possible and sqashing everyone in their path in their quest for world domination and incalculable profits.

I don’t want to turn this into a debate about Wal-Mart, but I do feel compelled to share this article which reveals some of the virtues of being a big, powerful, for-profit company. Real Katrina Hero? Wal-Mart, Study Says

The study (and no, it wasn’t sanctioned by Wal-Mart) analyzes how Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s made use of their local knowledge about supply chains, infrastructure, decision makers and other resources to provide emergency supplies and reopen stores when Katrina hit well before FEMA began its response.

“Profit-seeking firms beat most of the government to the scene and provided more effectively the supplies needed for the immediate survival of a population cut off from life’s most basic necessities,” Horwitz wrote in the study, which was published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “Though numerous private-sector firms played important roles in the relief operations, Wal-Mart stood out.”

Also, Wal-Mart leadership gave tremendous discretion to store managers and employees to make decisions rather than waiting for instructions from upper-level management, allowing for more-agile disaster response. CEO Lee Scott passed down a guiding edict to regional, district and store managers: “A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level. Make the best decision that you can with the information that’s available to you at the time, and, above all, do the right thing.”

Exapmles of that principle in action:

  • A Kenner, La., employee used a forklift to knock open a warehouse door to get water for a retirement home.
  • In Marrero, La., employees allowed police officers to use the store as a headquarters and a sleeping place, as many had lost their homes.
  • In Waveland, Miss., assistant manager Jessica Lewis ran a bulldozer through her store to collect basics that were not water-damaged, which she then piled in the parking lot and gave away to residents. She also broke into the store’s locked pharmacy to supply critical drugs to a hospital.

Click on the article link to see a rather impressive photo of a string of Wal-Mart trucks as far as the eye can see, waiting to enter New Orleans to bring (free) supplies.

Of course the cynics can attribute this benevolence to be nothing more than a PR ploy, but even if it is, it’s still pretty powerful and impressive. After all, it demonstrates how we the people collectively and effectively pull the strings of Wal-Mart and other for-profit corporations (another example is Wal-Mart’s very expensive and globally consequential environmental campaign). It’s arguably more influence than we have over our own government as a collective mass of individuals.

More from Meg at The World of Wealth

We Have Electricity!

My neighbor called me last night and told me that we now have electricity. We can now go home and start putting our lives back together. I am thankful that we don’t have as much to put back together as some other people do. I feel guilty because I really had a pretty nasty attitude at times during this ordeal. Based on how much many people lost, I really didn’t have a right to be that angry.

Anyway, we are moving back home today. It is going to be a lot of work getting the house back in order. The yard is a mess. We have a fence that will need to be replaced. I have huge tree that will need to be cut up and hauled to the curb so that the city can pick it up. My garage will need to be cleaned out. The inside of the house is a disaster area. This weekend will be very busy. But, it’s a good kind of busy.

Rita Update

We went to check out our house yesterday. Although our house didn’t sustain any real damage, several of our neighbors did. I took some pictures and will be posting them in a little while. It is really sad to see just how many trees we lost. Our biggest tree in the backyard is gone. It looks like someone just pulled it out of the ground and laid it down. The sad thing is that it was our nicest tree and a tree that prevented the sun from beating down on our house during the day! It’s also ironic that a tree that size blows over and my $200 metal shed was untouched.

Anyway, here are the pictures (bigger pictures are here and here):

JLP's Palace Before

JLP's Palace After