I recommend to you Yanis Varoufakis’ “The Global Minotaur: America, The True Origins of the Financial Crisis and The Future of the World Economy.” Not because I think you’ll rush out and buy it. It’s not an obvious “must have.” But if you’re clever, you might have the know-how to steal an ebook copy.
Varoufakis is a Greek economist, Syriza’s former Minister of Finance, who quit in protest of the austerity imposed on his country, an austerity that has blighted his nation. For that, he deserves a salute.
But his book is often also hysterically funny, mordantly, about American-style predatory business.
On Walmart, of which he has much to say, most notably the tale of the gigantic jar of pickles:
“Take for example, Vlasic pickles, a well-known everyday brand. Walmart’s ‘innovation’ was to sell these pickles in one gallon jars for $2.97. Was this a shrewd retailer’s response to market demand? Few family refrigerators had room for such an item.
“So what was the selling point?
“It was the idea of a huge quantity at ultra-low price. Walmart’s customers, in this sense, were not buying pickles as such. They were buying into the symbolic value of cheapness; into the notion of having appropriated so many pickles for so little money. Indeed, it made them feel as if they were Walmart accomplices — in association with an icon of American corporate might, they had forced producers to make so much available for so little!
“The gigantic jar of pickles thus ended up denoting a small victory at a time of wholesale defeat. Whose defeat? That of the American worker, whose wages had never really recovered since 1973. Moreover their working conditions deteriorated as employers everywhere faithfully copied the Walmart model…
“The situation in the workshops and the fields of the Third World, where goods are grown or made on behalf of Walmart, is, as one might imagine, bordering on the criminal.”
If you ever run across Yanis Varoufakis and what he has to say or write, I guarantee you’ll be purged of whatever holy crap you’ve been pumped full of on the American economy.