Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smart Shopping: Wal-Mart

You shouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart.

“Wait! Red flag!” You exclaim. “Wal-Mart offers the lowest prices and the highest selection! Why shouldn’t I shop there?”

            I hear this argument on a regular basis. To counter it, let us set up a scenario. Let us say your brother, John, works in a manufacturing plant making televisions. The company that owns this plant makes, let us say, 20 – 30% of its profits from selling to Wal-Mart. So, when Wal-Mart comes to the owners of this plant and tell them that they have to cut the costs of their televisions or lose Wal-Mart, what do you think they do? That’s right! They shut down the factory. John and all his co – workers get the boot and the plant moves overseas.

            Have you ever considered WHY the prices of Wal-Mart’s items are so cheap? With the multi-national corporation making no less than three billion a quarter, it is not because the people at the top are taking pay cuts. So! Let us look at it, shall we? Let us first start at observations made here in America, about American Wal-Marts’ impact on Americans. A Study in Nebraska looked at two different Wal-Marts, the first of which had just arrived and:

“..was in the process of driving everyone else out of business but, to do that, they cut their prices to the bone, very, very low prices.”

In the other Wal-Mart:

“They had successfully destroyed the local economy, there was a sort of economic crater with Wal-Mart in the middle: and in that community, the prices were 17% higher.”

            Okay, so we know they utilize VERY low prices to dry up competition, so that they then can raise prices without fear of aforementioned dried up competition taking their consumers away.

“So what?” You may ask, “That’s just part of the healthy capitalist system isn’t it?”


But I ask you still, how can they afford to get prices so low to begin with? Well, remember, they pressured John’s bosses to export all of its factories over seas. And once there where did they hire? Well, all over the world, but Asia, mostly. In fact, Wal-Mart’s profit margins were four times to six times higher on Asian imports than on American made goods. This exportation of American jobs is so profitable for the Wal-Mart elite, that not only did they export John’s job, but they now import half of all their non-food products.

            I think we’re starting to see how Wal-Mart can afford cheap products and big profits. But we’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg. Wal-Mart has had “Extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals.” Says an internal Wal-Mart audit and a New York Times report. This paired with the corporation’s use of sweatshops and prison labor is how they can afford to sell you products at such a low price. Now, if you ask me, it is not worth saving money if there are teenagers in Bangladesh working in sweatshops for 80 hours per week at $0.14 per hour. This, added to the fact that Wal-Mart also hires illegal immigrants here in the United States, directly into their stores, and indirectly in the contractors they work with, seems plenty of reason not to shop at Wal-Mart.

            If you are still convinced at this point that Wal-Mart is your place to shop, then I have two last points to make. Firstly, Wal-Mart is consistently shown to pay below minimum wage, which is unlawful and immoral, whether it be here or abroad, humans are humans and they deserve to be paid living wages. Secondly, Wal-Mart is a recipient of public subsidies. That is right! That means your government gives your tax dollars to Wal-Mart so that Wal-Mart can export jobs, open factories over seas to manufacture ‘in-house’ brands, utilize sweatshops and prison labor, and hire illegals here at home. Are those the kinds of things you want to support?

Encouraging Smart Shopping

            -Alexander Fisher

Twitter: @JAFThrasher

Blog: longhairedpoet.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment