Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I ran across a quote from Sam Walton, the founder of WalMart, regarding the wages they pay their employees. “We pay them just as much as we can get by with.” In other words the pay is just good enough to get someone desperate for a job to work for you.


The Portland Oregonian ran a series on WalMart several years ago. It described the process suppliers of items like clothing go through to get their items accepted. If the buyer figures that one item of trim is enough that’s all that is ordered. If you can get by with no trim that’s even better. In other words, the garment is just good enough to get a customer to buy it.


I’ve run across this attitude in a lot of letters to the editor. Especially when the schools or public works departments are trying to get adequate funding. Sam Walton didn’t invent the attitude. WalMart is just the most blatant example.


Just good enough. Imagine if a surgeon does a job that’s just good enough. How about the people who clean up after the operation is over. Do you want to trust your life to just good enough? Do you want the mechanic who works on your brakes to do a job that is just good enough? How about the architect who designed the skyscraper you might be working in and the metal workers who drove the rivets that hold it together-do you want them to do a job that’s just good enough? When it’s time to dump treated wastewater into our rivers, do you want the job to be just good enough? There are a million examples and I know that any of you could come up with a great list of your own. That so many do such a fantastic job with so little is a testament to our shared pride in creation.


If we truly are made in the image of the Creator, and I believe that we are, then there has to be so much more. We share that urge to create and to look at what we create and to see that “it is good.” The ones whose hands and minds and hearts create the clothing, make the cars, build the houses, grow the food, clean our streets, teach our children, and care for ourelders deserve the greatest respect. And the way our economy is run right now doesn’t support that drive to create, it tears it down.


What they are doing is creating our world. They are the eyes, the ears, the hands, and the voice of Creation. That is worthy of the highest praise. And JUST GOOD ENOUGH doesn’t cut it.


lisaram1955 said...

That notion that the "Walmart attitude"--just good enough--is poisoning the economy in a deeper way had never occurred to me.  But I think you are right.  Great post!  Lisa  :-]  

fdtate714 said...

Welcome to the Age of Shoddy.  Someone (I can't remember who???) came up with that phrase "the Age of Shoddy" during the Civil War to describe the products that profiteers were selling to the government for use by the Northern Army.  It certainly fits our modern Wal-Mart economy.  Interesting take on an old subject.

hestiahomeschool said...

When I was in college lo those many years ago they talked about built in opselescence--the notion of not making things  good enough to last because otherwise the person would never need to replace them!