What’s Behind These Surprisingly Big Grants to Boost Small Businesses?  – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

President Obama has talked a lot in the past year or two about “middle-out” economics—the idea that prosperity is driven not by a few job creators at the top, but by building a thriving middle class. Historically, a robust small business sector has been one key to such broad prosperity, and philanthropic efforts in this area have lately gained steam. Still, there’s not a huge number of funders focusing here in a big way, and many that do are from the business world and see a win-win in boosting mobility while expanding their customer base.

One funder in this space, as we’ve reported before, is Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program. Now it’s stepping things up, recently announcing the Small Business Economic Mobility initiative, a five-year investment in small business growth through increased access to capital and financial skills education. The move was unveiled during National Small Business Week.

via What’s Behind These Surprisingly Big Grants to Boost Small Businesses?  – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

A Modest Proposal for Wal-Mart

I wrote a post last year called Savers v. Wal-Mart. Since the ‘pre-worn’ look seems to be here to stay, you can get it at a fraction of the price at Sal’s or Savers. And it’s authentic worker’s garb.

Being an authentic worker is getting harder. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision makes it easier for large corporations to nickle and dime their workers without accountability.

From today’s New York Times…

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court to make a million or more of the company’s current and former female employees fend for themselves in individual lawsuits instead of seeking billions of dollars for discrimination in a class-action lawsuit. Wal-Mart got what it wanted from the court — unanimous dismissal of the suit as the plaintiffs presented it — and more from the five conservative justices, who went further in restricting class actions in general.

When you are working, everything is an equation of time vs money. All the big department stores have abandoned downtown Providence, except for the PPMall. The nearest convenient place is Wal-Mart. Time, gas, parking, overhead all figure in.

Buying small and local sometimes seems like too much work after a day of work, but there are ways to resist the Borg.

Shop mindfully. All stores strive to hustle you into buying more than you planned. Cutting one impulse purchase from your trip is only a fleabite, but a thousand fleas are no joke. What will happen if we keep our nickles and dimes in our pockets?

Via Politics Plus, we haven’t heard the last of the discrimination suit…

The women who sought to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) for gender bias on behalf of 1.5 million co-workers said they will press their fight against the nation’s largest private employer in smaller lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Weak government and strong corporations has been the trend for decades, confirmed by the Supremes this week. If you would rather be a citizen than a consumer or a human resource, this is a time to turn it around.

UPDATE: Wal-Mart stock is up following the Supreme Court ruling. A good day for corporations.

Hillbilly Report explains a court ruling that may ease some of the obstacles to workers wanting to form a union. Individuals are at a big disadvantage vs a multinational corporation, collective bargaining helps workers have a fair chance.

SHOP RHODE ISLAND: Here’s a link to Mi Vida Local with some unique, local small businesses that have what you need without the big box.

Savers v. WalMart

Just a quick post, as I’m off to get my car radio replaced. Driving around in silence, without WRNI to keep me amused and informed would take a lot of the fun out of my job. Mineral Spring Avenue at rush hour in December is lovely and all, but you need diversion.

I’m going to a place that got a flaming bad review and its own Facebook bad review page, but they’re cheap. I’ll let the whole English-speaking world know how this turns out.

Anyway, a new Savers is opening on Branch Ave, in Providence, about 3 minutes down the road from WalMart. Will this be the clash of the Titans?

This spring it got hot early, and I couldn’t find my summer clothes so I went to Sals on Smith St. and got some good deals. Later, when shopping at WalMart (wearing a wig and dark glasses) I noticed that most of the new clothes on the racks had that ‘pre-worn’ look we all love so much. So why buy new?

Maybe it’s being middle-aged, and buried in clutter, that makes me think re-using, re-circulating, altering and re-imagining, is a promising possibility. We did it in the 70’s, and we were all much prettier then.

Our leaders tell us that the way out is to go shopping and buy more stuff. This is getting real old on me. I’m as greedy and sensual as anyone, but another coffee cup, or even electronic toy won’t excite me any more. Anyway, endlessly expanding consumption is not desirable or possible.

I don’t have answers, just looking for the questions.

And I just answered one question. Is Big Sisters a front group for some extreme conservative agenda? A friend told me that years ago, so I decided to do a quick search.

Nothing except that they, like Big Brothers, exist to help children who need mentors and good adult attention. And Focus on the Family really hates them. They have a non-discrimination policy and accept gay volunteers. F on the F tried to organize a corporate boycott, without success. It seems that corporations have non-discrimination policies too.

Savers is looking really good now.