Published: Sat, 24 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2016 22:21:28 -0400
Mon, 18 Apr 2016 16:00:00 -0400Senator Bernie Sanders is emailing supporters highlighting the fact that his opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, Hillary Clinton, is being supported by "enormous checks from people like Alice Walton (yes, Wal-Mart)." And it is true. Federal campaign finance records show that Walton, of Bentonville, Arkansas, gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign $2,700, and then wrote another check, for $353,400, to the "Hillary Victory Fund." The support for Clinton’s campaign represents something of a political shift for Walton. Previously, her large donations had mainly gone to Republicans. The Federal Election Commission records show she donated a total of $200,000 in 2011 and 2012 to a committee backing Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, and a total of $2 million in 2004 to a group supporting President George W. Bush’s reelection. Additional contributions of more than $150,000 in the past dozen years have gone to groups supporting Republican candidates for the House and Senate. Sen. Sanders seems to think that voters who view Walmart as the embodiment of evil will be horrified to learn of Walton’s support for Clinton. Maybe some voters will indeed recoil at the news. But as an optimist and as a supporter of free markets, I view it as a hopeful sign that Clinton is returning to her senses about Walmart. "Returning" is the key word, because there is a substantial history here. As the New York Sun reported in a 2006 editorial, when Clinton’s husband was an Arkansas politician and she was the real breadwinner in the family, she served, between 1986 and 1992, as a member of Walmart's corporate board of directors. By 2006, when Clinton was serving as a United States senator from New York, she returned a $5,000 contribution from the Walmart political action committee, explaining via an aide that she had "serious differences" with the company’s practices. Now, a decade later, with Clinton running for president, Walmart’s money—or at least Alice Walton’s—is acceptable anew to Clinton and to her ostensibly independent victory fund. Whatever the reason for Clinton’s reversal—or for Walton’s—it would certainly be good for the country if presidential candidate Clinton were to learn some things from Walmart. The company and the Walton family have ideas on topics like wages, health care, education, banking, the Second Amendment, and even the environment. On health care, the $4 generic drugs available at Walmart’s pharmacy are a fine example of how free-market, private-sector capitalist competition, rather than top-down government-imposed price controls, can make medicine affordable for patients. On education, the Walton Family Foundation says it has supported a quarter of the 6,700 charter schools in the U.S. and it is investing in what it describes as "the high-quality choice movement." That’s a counterweight to the Clinton campaign’s backers in the teacher unions. Those unions too often see charter schools as threats that siphons money away from schools that employ unionized teachers. On the Second Amendment, anti-gun activists have publicly called on Walmart to stop selling guns and ammunition in its stores. The store has voluntarily stopped selling some models of rifles, but it continues to sell handguns and other weapons, evidence that businesses are best left to their own judgments on these matters to respond to customer sentiments and demand without congressional interference. On banking, the extensive financial services that Walmart offers its customers—not only check cashing, but also bill-paying, tax preparation, and a "bluebird" financial account that claims to offer the "benefits of banking without all the fees"—demonstrates how non-bank firms are filling a market gap. Rather than forcing banks with regulations to provide these services or subsidizing the banks with bailouts, why not let the free market work? On wages, Walmart has been raising pay even without a congressionally mandated increase in the feder[...]
Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:20:00 -0400The point of Walmart (and other discount stores) in the marketplace is to get consumer goods into the hands of a primarily lower-income customer base. This obviously means that prices need to be kept down. Walmart recently announced, in response to years and years of progressive and union groups pressuring them, they'd spend $1 billion to raise the wages and provide training for new employees. How can they make such a commitment and keep prices down? Instead, some stores are now cutting the hours of their employees in order to stabilize expenses. This means there are fewer workers at these Walmarts at any given time, meaning slower restocking and poorer customer service, which may drive shoppers to the company's competitors. Bloomberg details the frustrations: A Wal-Mart employee at a location near Houston, who asked not to be identified because she didn't have permission to talk to the media, said her store had to cut more than 200 hours a week. To make the adjustment, the employee's store manager started asking people to go home early two weeks ago, she said. On Aug. 19, at least eight people had been sent home by late afternoon, including sales-floor associates and department managers. The employee said she's covering an area once staffed by multiple people at one of the busiest times of the year — the back-to-school season. On a recent weekday, she had a customer who had to wait 30 minutes for an employee to unlock a product the shopper wanted to purchase, she said. In e-mails, interviews and social-media posts, employees in a range of positions across the country shared similar stories of hours being cut. The staff at a location in Fort Worth, Texas, were told that the store needed to cut 1,500 hours, according to a worker who asked not to be named for fear of being reprimanded. After being asked to stay late to help with extra work earlier in the week, some were told to take two-hour lunch breaks to make up for the additional hours they'd clocked, the employee said. A spokesperson for Walmart said the cuts are only taking place at stores that have "overscheduled" workers and staffed for more time than had been allotted. He said that the cuts won't affect efforts to shorten checkout lines, clean up the stores, or stock the shelves, a claim that doesn't seem to square with what some workers are saying. As much as some folks want to insist that Walmart is the only gorilla in the pen, the marketplace continues to provide many alternatives, and the company has to worry about whether they could lose customers as well as profits. Their earnings were below analysts' predictions last quarter: By cutting hours, Wal-Mart now risks losing some of its best employees to competitors that can provide more stable schedules, said Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group LLC. The company also may alienate customers if the staffing levels result in poorer customer service and products not getting on store shelves, he said. Wal-Mart has made strides during the past year in addressing customers' complaints of barren shelves, dirty stores and long check-out lines, Flickinger said. But some locations still aren't staffed well enough during peak times, he said. "Wal-Mart risks a talent drain at a time when McMillon has made meaningful improvements in the company," Flickinger said. "All these competitors will take Wal-Mart workers to make themselves strong and help make a major competitor weaker." Recently we took note of one of those competitors, Meijer, which is being ordered by the state of Wisconsin to raise its prices. The state has a law that forbids businesses from selling certain consumer goods below cost, making it harder for competitors to move in on Walmart's turf and compete against them with better deals.[...]
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:05:00 -0400After being contacted by CNN, Walmart, Sears and Kmart have all decided to drop all merchandise from their shops and online that bear the symbol of the confederate flag. As of Monday, CNN was able to find some items on their site: "We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site," said Walmart spokesman Brian Nick. "We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances." They worked fast. As of Tuesday morning a search for "confederate flag" didn't offer anything with the familiar symbol, except for the state flag for Mississippi, which has it baked in. Walmart and Sears are obviously empowered to decide for themselves what sort of merchandise they want to carry in their shops, and if they don't want to infuriate their customers with symbols of racism (or perhaps they are trying to draw in new customers by eliminating symbols of racism), more power to them. But CNN takes it a little further. They contacted Amazon and eBay to see if they were going to eliminate Confederate flag merchandise from their site. They have not apparently responded. Both sites still offer Confederate flags for sale. But these are online marketplaces that really don't curate their offerings the way a "brand" like Walmart or Sears does. CNN notes that eBay has a policy against offensive items that "promote hatred or racial supremacy, including historic or current items." If CNN had checked on the site further, maybe they would have discovered that eBay perhaps means this rule literally and does not include symbolic representations that we associate with hatred. It's easy to realize the limits rule means by typing the word "Nazi" into eBay's search engine. You'll immediately get a page full of coins of the Third Reich for collectors, most of which are emblazoned with a swastika. There are historical photos for sale of Nazis in uniform during the war. Clearly the rule doesn't mean what CNN thinks it means (or else somebody at eBay is asleep at the switch). It's one thing to pressure a retailer to drop merchandise. It's another thing to pressure a service that connects individual buyers and sellers to each other. It changes the dynamic from "The places where I shop should maybe not be profiting off selling racist merchandise," to "People should not have or even want these things at all." Obviously, eBay and Amazon can do whatever they please and make decisions based on pleasing customers. They don't have to permit Confederate flag merchandise to be sold through their services if doing so has the potential to harm their business model. But then there's always Craigslist! And if Cragislist won't allow it, people will find some other way to engage in trade. Confederate flag opponents must not make the mistake of confusing using their power as a consumer to pressure their favorite retailers into better behavior with trying to control trade between other people. Judge them all you want, but attempting to stop individuals from engaging in trade over confederate symbols or memorabilia will not purge the symbols from American society. Instead it will breed resentment, backlashes, claims of censorship, and even more angry paranoia. UPDATE: eBay has informed BuzzFeed in a statement that the will ban the sale of Confederate flags and items containing the image. UPDATE II: Amazon has also declared they will drop Confederate flag-themed merchandise from its stores.[...]
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0500Liberals and conservatives do not agree with each other, as a matter of general principle. If one side says something is true, then the other side will try hard to prove it isn’t, just to show them. So it is nice to see liberals come around on a point conservatives have been making for decades: Welfare leads to moral rot. Conservatives have made this point over and over again, in books and conferences and blog postings ad nauseam. Twenty years ago David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote that “without welfare and food stamps, poor people would cling harder to working-class respectability than they do now.” A couple of years ago Paul Ryan made the same point: “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” By giving people their daily bread, conservatives say, the welfare state robs them of any reason to get off the couch and make it themselves. And this is bad not just because it imposes economic costs on society. It is bad because it corrodes virtue. Industry, thrift, a go-getter spirit—these are important qualities in both the individual and the community. Laziness, sloth, dependence on others—these are character flaws. Those on welfare could go to work and do for themselves, conservatives say, if only the welfare state hadn’t enabled them not to. Liberals think this is all bunk. While some, such as economist Paul Krugman, might concede that “incentives do have some effect on work effort,” they contend the effect is quite small. What’s more, they say conservatives get the causality backward. People receive government benefits because they are poor, and they are poor because of economic circumstances. They aren’t poor because of government benefits. Or so they used to say. But then came Walmart. A couple of weeks ago Walmart announced it would raise hourly wages for half a million employees. The New York Times argued it should be forced to raise pay even further through an increase in the national minimum wage. After all, the paper said, there is “little doubt that Walmart (and other employers) would pay more if low wages were not, in effect, subsidized by taxpayers, who pay for the food stamps and other public assistance that low-wage workers rely on to get by.” The Times was referring to a study, such as it was, purporting to show Walmart’s low wages cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in public assistance, including food stamps, Medicaid, and housing benefits. Other studies have purported to show similar things about the fast-food industry—which ostensibly costs the taxpayers $7 billion in social-welfare spending. These tendentious claims have several shortcomings, such as loaded assumptions (PolitiFact has ruled a similar claim, by an MSNBC figure, “mostly false”) and the fact that a slightly smaller percentage of Walmart’s workforce receives public benefits than the average for the U.S. retail sector as a whole. Imagine, too, what would happen if Walmart and fast-food restaurants went out of business tomorrow. Would other companies snap up all their employees, perhaps even pay them better? Probably not. (In fact, the increase in job applicants might depress wages elsewhere.) It is far more likely that the shutdowns would lead to higher unemployment and therefore even more social-welfare spending. Hence Walmart and other low-wage employers probably reduce the total amount of social-welfare spending in the U.S., rather than increase it. But forget all that. Assume the company’s critics are right—that Walmart is leaning on public assistance to avoid pay hikes it otherwise would have to make. The criticism here isn’t simply an economic one. It’s also a moral one. Greed, stinginess, lack of compassion—those qualities that supposedly produce Walmart’s low wages—are character flaws. Indeed, one of the groups criticizing [...]
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:45:00 -0400
An Ohio grand jury found officers' actions were justified in last month's fatal shooting of a man holding an air rifle at a Wal-Mart store, a special prosecutor said Wednesday.
Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said the Greene County grand jury in Xenia opted not to issue any indictments in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III.
A 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle in the store. Police said he didn't obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle. Crawford's family said he had taken it off a store shelf.
Crawford's family says they believe the shooting was not justified and wants federal authorities to investigate whether race was a factor. Crawford was black, the officers are white.
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:58:00 -0400Timothy Egan over at the New York Times opined in a poorly argued, talking-points-laden screed about how terrible Walmart is. Typically this would be dog-bites-man stuff. It contains stupid sentences like this one: "It's a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class," as though the money the government grabs to attempt to (extremely poorly) manage these things would exist at all were it not for the marketplace that created corporations in the first place (and as if the extremely poor government management isn't what is driving up prices of health care and education as well). But something different happened this time, causing a bit of viral buzz in conservative-libertarian circles. Walmart took a red pen to Egan's column and posted it on their site, with corrections. In response to Egan calling Walmart a drain to taxpayers, they argue they're the biggest taxpayer in the country. In response to him claiming the company forces employees onto public assistance, they point out that they are responsible for moving employees off public assistance. They even note that one piece of evidence of Walmart's bad behavior was debunked by Politifact. In response to a simplistic back-of-the-napkin mathematical claim by a Fortune writer that Walmart could increase the wages by all their employees by 50 percent with no consequences, Walmart suggests checking out the description of the company from a gentleman named Jason Furman. Read the whole thing here. (Tip to Walmart's public relations folks: If you want people clicking on links, actually make them links, not images of site addresses that can't even be copied or pasted.) Walter Olson over at the Cato Institute noted Furman is President Barack Obama's current chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and what he had to say about Walmart: Wal-Mart's low prices help to increase real wages for the 120 million Americans employed in other sectors of the economy. And the company itself does not appear to pay lower wages or benefits than similar companies, or to cause substantially lower wages in the retail sector… [T]o the degree the anti-Wal-Mart campaign slows or halts the spread of Wal-Mart to new areas, it will lead to higher prices that disproportionately harm lower-income families… By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans. As usual, during this poorly argued babble about the "income gap," what is left out is how much more the poor and middle class are able to get for their wages thanks to places like Walmart. It will not be the one percent flooding the stores come Black Friday buying television sets the size of dinner tables. It's interesting how the things that are allegedly becoming less and less obtainable for the poor and middle class (education and health care) have been heavily regulated and managed by the government.[...]
Tue, 17 Jun 2014 18:45:00 -0400The family of a mentally disabled woman is suing Wal-Mart and the police department of Livonia, Michigan for an incident two years ago when police wrongly accused the woman of shoplifting. The Detroit Free Press reports: Wendy Kozma was wrapping up her workday with a client when she got a mind-numbing phone call from her mentally impaired daughter: "Mom, this man is trying to take me from Wal-Mart." Kozma feared the worst: a kidnapping. Within minutes, she would learn what was really happening. Her 25-year-old daughter, Jodi, who has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, was being questioned for shoplifting at a Livonia, Mich., Wal-Mart. Jodi Kozma was suspected of stealing hair ties and hiding them in her waistband and purse during a shopping trip with her grandmother, records show. The hair ties had been bought earlier and Jodi had a receipt for them. A "bulge" in her waistband was her cellphone. Nevertheless, four police officers were dispatched "in a SWAT-like approach, parking the cruisers on the sidewalk directly in front of the store doors," according to the police report, which said police "muscled Jodi to the ground" and then handcuffed her. Jodi's grandmother, who was with her at the Wal-Mart, said she tried to explain to security that the hair pins had been purchased but that they wouldn't listen—a surveillance camera operator said she saw Jodi picking up hair pieces and hiding them under her waistband. Kozma says her daughter was raised to trust cops. "If she were ever lost or stranded, we always taught her to turn and look for police." She told the Free Press. All of that has been completely destroyed." The Livonia Police Department released a statement insisting Kozma's claims were unfounded and that police "used the minimal amount of force necessary to gain control and handcuff her." The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. You can watch the video surveillance footage, which as a very poor angle of the actual encounter with police, below: [...]
Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:30:00 -0400"The total support of the military-industrial complex and empire by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is staggering," Ralph Nader tells Reason TV. And don't get him started on the 2000 election. "Everybody has an equal right to run for election. We're either all spoilers of one another, trying to get votes from one another or none of us are spoilers. We’re not second-class citizens because we’re a Green Party candidate or a Libertarian candidate....The brass of these two parties is they control the election machinery so they keep you off the ballot, harass you, file a lawsuit, delay you, exhaust you." Nader's latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. The longtime consumer activist, recidivist presidential candidate, and several-time host of Saturday Night Live talks with Nick Gillespie about what he sees as a new libertarian-progressive attack on crony capitalism, whether GM cars were ever any damn good, and why the Democrats still wrongly insist that he cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election. Oh yeah, and that article of his Reason published in the early 1970s. It's a wide-ranging, spirited, fun, and at times contentious conversation. About an hour long. Produced by Joshua Swain. Transcript below. This is a rush transcript. GILLESPIE: Hi, I’m Nick Gillespie with Reason TV and today I’m happy to say we’re talking with the one and only Ralph Nader about his latest book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Ralph, thanks for talking to Reason TV. NADER: Thank you, Nick. GILLESPIE: You were born in 1930. NADER: 1934. GILLESPIE: You are one of the most influential public policy advocates or social figures of the past 50 or 60 years, lets call it the post World War 2 era. You’ve been on Sesame Street, Saturday night live, the Ali g show, everything else. Your first big book was Unsafe at any Speed. In 1966, you followed that up with the NATO Report on the FTC, which might’ve been as influential in a lot of ways. You’ve created organizations like Public Citizen as well as all the PIRGs that college students especially know about. In Unstoppable, you write about what you call the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state. Talk about corporatism, how do you define it, and why do you see the left and right coming together to say enough already? NADER: Corporatism is a world-view that large corporations should manage our political economy, and they should strategically plan it and things will come out okay. It’s part of the overall globalization which undermines local, state and national sovereignty and which pulls down economies to their lowest levels in countries overseas. GILLESPIE: What’s the kind of growth curve of corporatism? Is this something that in a lot of ways starts with the new deal and then extends into the post war era of the government or the state and corporation saying were going to work together to stabilize everything. NADER: Well that’s one - sort of an emergency partnership, but I think the marker was around 1979, when congressman democrat from California, Tony Cuello, persuaded the democrats that they could raise a lot of money from corporate sources just like the republicans, From then on, you can see the decline in public hearings, the corporate malfeasance. You can see the decline in enforcement of health and safety standards, doctorants (2:18?) like deferred prosecution. They never had to plead guilty – the corporations – they cut deals. And you see the enormous increase in PACS, commercial PACS, and political action committees. GILLESPIE: And that’s to lobby the government, to rig markets… NADER: Right, and they’re given to most democrats and republicans. GILLESPIE: Do you see a strong difference or a meaningful difference overall between the Obama administra[...]
Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:50:00 -0400
(image) Last Friday, Walmart filed an annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. On a list of the many factors that could hurt the company financially—federal interest rate changes, natural disasters, cyberattacks, untimely trendspotting—Walmart also included "changes in the amount of payments" made under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other public assistance programs.
This seems relatively reasonable and noncontroversial, no? Walmart is known for having low prices and catering to a low-income crowd. Some low-income families rely on SNAP benefits, aka food stamps, to buy their groceries. Drastic cuts to the SNAP program might result in poor families buying less food and, therefore, spending less at Walmart. Walmart is a for-profit company, and therefore things that decrease profits are viewed as risks.
And, yet, some folks are trying to frame Walmart's realistic assessment of its customer base and liabilities as an admission of some sort of nefarious strategy. It's very odd. Food stamp users have to shop somewhere, and Walmart is often cheaper than other grocery stores and has more (and healthier) options than the local bodega or 7-Eleven.
I suppose the animosity shouldn't be surprising—Walmart can do no right in some eyes—but that Walmart is an affordable and accessible option for many on food stamps seems like a benefit to me, not a bug. If there is cause to be upset at here, it's the fact that so many Americans are unemployed, living in poverty, and forced to rely on food stamps in the first place. It is not the fact that a company provides them with a place to buy affordable food (no matter how much you might personally not like that company).
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 16:30:00 -0500
Walmart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in protests and strikes against the company, federal officials charged in a formal complaint filed on Wednesday.
The National Labor Relations Board says Walmart violated the rights of employees participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions at the nation's largest retailer.
Thu, 19 Dec 2013 08:53:00 -0500
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Peter Schiff, author and analyst, who tries to see if people who say they support higher minimum wages equally support the higher prices that will be a result.
About 6 minutes and well worth watching. Here's the writeup at his YouTube channel:
Published on Dec 16, 2013
Walmart touts "Everyday Low Prices," but we asked its customers to support 'Everyday High Wages" instead. We posed as representatives of "15 for 15," a make-believe organization advocating that Walmart raise prices by 15% and use the extra cash to pay its low-skilled workers $15 per hour. The surcharge would be added to customer's bills at checkout, just like a gratuity at a restaurant. Not surprisingly few shoppers supported our cause. Even those who felt Walmart workers should be paid more did not want to pay higher prices themselves to make it possible. Those demanding higher wages for Walmart's workers should consider the importance of low prices to Walmart's customers.
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At the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Reason TV filmed Schiff mixing it up with protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. Still bracing and insightful. More Schiff/Reason vids are here.
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Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:10:00 -0500
Walmart warned of a tough Christmas shopping season for US retailers as it forecast weak sales amid the most intense competition it had ever seen.
Despite improvements in the US economy, the world’s biggest retailer by sales blamed the jobs market, political gridlock in Washington and the end of some food stamp benefits for its tepid forecast.
It also reported a third consecutive quarter of falling US sales on Thursday.
Bill Simon, head of Walmart’s US business, said that a “once in a generation” set of forces were discouraging consumer spending. People will also have less time to shop as a late Thanksgiving means there are six fewer days to Christmas than last year.
Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0500
As the holiday shopping season kicks off, Walmart is the latest major retailer to announce an even earlier launch to annual Black Friday weekend sales — beginning at dinnertime Thanksgiving evening.
Following a slew of similar announcements from stores including Target, Best Buy and Macy's, Walmart said today that it will hold two major sales events at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday evening, two hours earlier than last year. With this year's six-day shorter holiday shopping season and low rates of consumer confidence following the government shutdown, Walmart is upping its efforts to draw in more customers: offering what experts said were impressive deals and guaranteeing more products to customers in line during the Thursday sales.
Fri, 18 Oct 2013 14:40:00 -0400
Dozens of workers at a Florida Wal-Mart walked off the job this morning, mounting the first Wal-Mart store work stoppage since the firings of twenty workers who participated in an extended June strike.
“I don’t have fear,” striker Jose Bello told Salon in Spanish. “I don’t have any fear. They could punish us – we’re used to that.” Bello said that at least eighty of the employees at his Hialeah, Florida store had joined the strike, which began at 9 AM. Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fri, 18 Oct 2013 09:50:00 -0400
A Michigan man says he was fired from his job at Wal-Mart after he tried to help a woman being assaulted in the parking lot of one of the retail giant's stores and ended up fighting with her attacker.
Kristopher Oswald told WXYZ-TV in Detroit that Wal-Mart has policies against workplace violence to prevent employees from assaulting co-workers or tackling a shoplifter, but that it appears that nothing allows for them to assist in situations of imminent danger and self-defense.