MENARDS: Just another "small," "family-owned" business hurt by Obama. Righhhhht.

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Save big Bs

Do conservative billionaires like John Menard Jr. ever, ever, ever take personal responsbility for their actions? Menard is Wisconsin's version of Sam Walton, an entrepreneur who built up a small business into a behemoth. He's personally worth $7 billion and is Wisconsin's richest resident. A guy who, like Walton before him, bombs around in his venerable pick-up truck. So far, perhaps, so good.

But then there's more to that Walton comparison.

Based in Arkansas, the late Walton's Walmart chain is one of the nation's biggest and most profitable businesses, yet it stiffs its employees with low pay and harsh working conditions, as a result becoming the single largest consumer of taxpayer-funded Medicaid dollars. Welfare-Mart might be a better name for the outfit.

Meanwhile, Menard's namesake business is hardly less stingy. For instance, the firm has on numerous occasions famously gotten into trouble with pollution-control regulators in Wisconsin and Minnesota when it -- and Menard himself, personally -- have been caught illegally dumping company garbage, including toxic wastes.

What, can't Menards afford a recycling bin or a licensed landfill contract? It's another case of privatizing profits while socializing costs. Corporate welfare for the one percenters, in other words. And now this:

The Menards chain has been planning to move into Missouri with new stores in three St. Louis suburbs, but yesterday the firm unexpectedly announced that one of those stores, in suburban O'Fallon, is being dropped from the expansion plan. Why? A Menards spokesman explained to local news media that ... deep breath... it's Obama's fault. The unnamed spokesperson said (according to a St. Louis TV station):

“I’m very sorry, but we are a family owned business and with the Obama Administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion [in O'Fallon] until things are more settled. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

"Family-owned business"? Yeah, sure. A family of billionaires. "Small business"? The privately held chain owns 270 big-box stores with estimated 2007 sales of $8 billion. Menards must be paying too little to hire a more nuanced PR guy. 

But go ahead and take it all at face value, if you dare. You see, Mr. and Mrs. America, the poor, poor billionaire and his multi-billion-dollar octopus of a corporation are just a struggling main street concern, like pop's soda shoppe, a small business that is scared by what a mean, nasty Democwatic pwesident might do next. Like, raise taxes ever so slightly on billionaires, or corporate taxes ever so slightly above an effective rate that's way too often zero. Rates that people like you and me end up subsidizing.

Ironically, despite its latest protestation, the Eau Claire-based Menards chain is continuing to expand nationally at a prodigious pace. So it's interesting that when, for some obscure business reason, the firm decides not to expand in one particular location, it can't suck it up and tell local burghers the real reason why. Nope, it's simply Obama's fault! But all those huge profits Menards continues to rake in? Hey, nothing to do with Obama.

This, mind you, is the same Menards that also has announced plans to fly workers from Wisconsin into North Dakota to staff new stores it is opening there. Again, no expressed negative impact in that situation allegedly due to Obama and his "scary" economics. Nope, Obama only gets blamed for bad news.

What's really going on, of course, is that Menards is reducing unemployment in Wisconsin by reducing the size of our work force while cutting its costs. You see, Menards doesn't want to pay the significantly higher wages that are now prevalent in booming North Dakota. So, instead, Menards will offer (raise your pinky to your lip like Dr. Evil) 13 dollars an hour to Wisconsin workers willing to uproot themselves. Not to worry, though; Menards will fly you there. Save big money, indeed.

So, if I were you, gentle reader, I'd consider taking my home-improvement shopping elsewhere than Menards -- at least until this "corporate citizen" starts acting responsibly and, moreover, like an ethically informed adult who doesn't insult prospective customers with lame and erroneous GOP talking points.

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