I just finished an article on Wal Mart and half way through the research, I decided I’ll never shop there again.
Wal Mart Greed
I think perhaps Wal Mart wasn’t always so single-mindedly greedy and callous. Sam Walton said he believed in buying American products and if that’s true, the poor man must be spinning in his grave, because 80% of Wal Mart products now come from China. Sam Walton also believed in buying the cheapest products available and passing the savings on.
Wal Mart Price Control
The “buy cheap” principle has continued, but when the CEOs discovered that the cheapest products could be produced by Chinese workers making $100 a month, Wal Mart told their suppliers to move to China or go out of business. Some, like Rubbermaid and Thomson Electronics, did go out of business, costing about 2,000 American jobs for just these two companies.
Wal Mart Clout
To understand what’s so bad about the “buy China” policy, you have to get some concept of the scope of Wal Mart’s operations. They are the largest corporation in the United States with 2009 sales of $450 billion. Billion, that is. They are set up in Shenzhen, China with a Global Procurement Center of 6,000 suppliers. Shenzhen did not even exist as a city twenty-five years ago, but now it is a manufacturing metropolis of seven million Chinese workers. Seven million!
At the port of Long Beach California in 2006, Chinese consumer goods came in valued at $36 billion and U.S raw materials (cotton, hides, and scrap metal) went out, valued at $3 billion. China isn’t just exporting flyswatters, either. Televisions, cell phones, and other high-end electronics are being produced there with the help and mentoring of Wal Mart and other U.S. companies.
Wal Mart Deception
I won’t even mention here how Wal Mart exploits their employees and deceives their shoppers, except to warn you that the really cheap item on the end cap may be the only real bargain. The rest of the merchandise down the aisle can be purchased at a better price elsewhere.
Free Trade: Lousy Deal
You may remember when the Free Trade Agreement was signed in the late 1990s. Clinton said it would open up vast Chinese markets for American products. Remember that? But China is long on human beings and short on disposable income, so they took the manufacturing jobs and it was the U.S. market that opened up. This was, shall we say, a really lousy deal for the 80 percent of Americans who work for a living. It’s not free trade, its not fair trade, its economic domination by the rich and exploitation of the poor.
Getting Trickled Down On
I used to be outraged by corporate greed. I no longer expect corporations to have a conscience or any sense of morality. Seldom has a corporation ever done anything to benefit workers unless they were dragged, kicking and screaming into court. Why should a corporation have a conscience? They aren’t human beings, they are profit machines. I now expect them to function like profit machines and I hope the people in charge of protecting us from robbers will protect us from profit machines in the future a whole lot better than they have in the past. As for trickle down economics, I, for one, am tired of getting “trickled down” on.
A Good Corporation
Lest you think I am anti-business, I want to praise a regional chain of grocery stores in our area called Publix. I’m sorry if you don’t have a Publix, because they have very clean, well-stocked, pleasant stores, with short lines and friendly staff. They go out of their way to hire individuals with handicaps, and they treat their employees well. With all this, they still make money and I’m glad they do. How do they do this? They charge more for their merchandise. Frugal as I am, I am going to shop at Publix. And I’m never going to shop at Wal Mart again.
PBS documentary: Is Wal Mart Good for America?