Still shopping at Walmart? : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread

Wal-Mart is now the worlds biggest corporation, having passed ExxonMobil for the top slot.

It hauls off a stunning $220 Billion a year from We the People. Despite its claim that it slashes profits to the bone in order to deliver "Always Low Prices", Wal-Mart banks about $7 billion a year in profits, ranking it among the most profitable entities on the planet.

Of the 10 richest people in the world, five are Waltons..the ruling family of the Wal-Mart empire. S. Robson Walton is ranked by London's Rish List 2001 as the wealthiest human on the planet, having sacked up more than $65 billion in personal wealth and topping Bill Gates as #1.

Wal-Mart and the Waltons got to the top the old-fashioned way-by roughing people up. The corporate ethos emanating from the Bentonville headquarters dictates two guiding principles for all managers: extract the very last penny possible from human toil and squeeze the last dime from every supplier.

The average employee makes only $15,000.00 a year for full-time work. Most are denied even this poverty income, for they're held to part- time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full time, at Wal-Mart "full-time" is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000.00 a year.

Health-care benefits? Only if you've bee there two years; then the plan hits you with such huge premiums that few can afford it-only 38% of Wal-Marters are covered.

Thinking Union ? "Wal-Mart is opposed to unionization," reads a company guidebook for supervisors. "You, as a manager, are expected to support the company's position..This may mean walking a tightrope between ligitimate campaigning and improper conduct". Wal-Mart is in fact rabidly anti-union, deploying teams of union-busters from Bentonville to any spot where there's a whisper of organizing activity. "While unions might be appropriate for other companies, they have no place at Wal-Mart," a spokeswoman told a Texas Observer reporter who was covering the JLRB hearing on the company's manhandling of 11 meat-cutters who worked at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jadksonvill, Texas.

These derring-do employees were sick of working harder and longer for the same low pay. "We signed [union]cards, and all hell broke loose," says Sidney Smith, one of the Jacksonville meat-cutters who established the first-ever Wal-Mart union in the U.S., voting in Feb. 2000 to join the United Food and Commercial Workers. Eleven days later, Wal-Mart announced that it was closing the meat-cutting departments in all of its stores and would henceforth buy prepackaged meat elsewhere.

But the repressive company didn't stop there. As the Observer reports: "Smith was fired for theft-after a manager agreed to let him buy a box of overripe bananas for .50 cents, Smith ate one banana before paying for the box, and was judged to have stolen that banana"

To Be Continued......

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2003


Gee, I know someone that works in Walmart and she wouldn't be there if they didn't pay her enough. She was bragging about her health insurance and vacations and stuff. She's on maternaty now so I can't ask her.

I personally love Walmart and cannot picture not going there. My boss didn't want any of us to go there because he lost alot of business to their pet department (didn't help that this person I know used to work for us and took over the pet department and knew what we sold) He now shops there himself because there is nothing else for us around here.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2003

" He now shops there himself because there is nothing else for us around here. "

Exactly, Dee. He has little choice. That is what Walmart does, is remove the choice of small, independent businesses to survive, much less prosper. Small business is what makes the economy strong, and builds and maintains the community it is accountable to.

Here's more........


Wal-Mart is an unrepentant and recidivist violator of employee rights, drawing repeated convictions, fines, and the ire of judges from coast to coast. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has had to file more suits against the Bentonville billionaires club for cases of disabiltiy discriminatin than any other corporation. A top EEOC lawyer told Business Week, "I have never seen this kind of blatant disregard for the law."

Likewise, a national class-actin suit reveals an astonishing pattern of sexual discriminatin at Wal-Mart (where 72% of the salespeople are women), charging that there is "a harsh, anti-woman culture in which complaints go unanswered and the women who make them are targeted for retaliation."

Workers' compensation laws, child-labor laws(1,400 violations in Maine alone), surveillance of employees-you name it, this corporation is a repeat offender. No wonder, then, that turnover in the stores is abouve 50% a year, with many stores having to replace 100% of their employees each year, and some reaching as high as a 300% turnover.

THEN THERE IS CHINA: For years, Wal-Mart saturated the airwaves with a "We Buy American" advertising campaign, but it was nothing more than a red-white-and- blue sham. All along, the vast majority of the products it sold were from cheap-labor hell-holes, espically China.

In 1998, after several exposes of this sham, the company finally dropped its "patriotism" posture and by 2001 had even moved its worldwide purchasing headquarters to China. Today, it is the largest IMPORTER of Chinese-made products in the world, buying $10 billion worth of merchandise from several thousand Chinese factories.

As Charlie Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee reports, "In country after country, factories that produce for Wal-Mart are the worst," adding that the bottom-feeding labor policy of this one corporation "is actually lowering standards in China, slashing wages and benefits, imposing long mandatory-overtime shifts, while tolerating the arbitrary firing of workews who even dare to discuss factory conditions."

Wal-Mart does not want the U.S. buying public to know that its famous low prices are the product of human misery, so while it loudly proclaims that its global suppliers must comply with corporate "code of conduct" to treat workers decently, it strictly prohibits the disclosure of any factory names and addresses, hoping to keep independent sources from witnessing the "code" in operation.

Kernagham's NLC, acclaimed for its fact-packed reports on global working conditions, found several Chinese factories that make the toys Americans buy for their children at Wal-Mart. Senenty-one percent of the toys sold in the U.S. come form China, and Wal-Mart now sells one out of five of the toys we buy.

NLC interviewed workers in China's Guangdong Province who toil in factories making popular action figures, dolls, and other toys sold at Wal-Mart. In "Toys of Misery," a shoocking 58-page report that the establishment media ignored, NLS describes:

* 13-16 hour days molding, assembling, and spray-painting toys- 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. or even midnight, seven days a week, with 20 hour shifts in peak season.

* Even though China's minimum wage is .31 cents an hour- which doesn't begin to cover a person's basic subsistence-level needs-these production workers are paid .13 cents an hour.

* Workers typically live in squatter shacks, seven feet by seven feet, or jammed in company dorms, with more than a dozen sharing a cubicle costing $1.95 a week for rent. They pay about $5.50 a week for lousy food. They also must pay for their own medical treatment and are fired if they are too ill to work.

* The work is literally sickening, since there's no health and safety emforcement. Workers have constant headaches and nausea from paint- dust hanging in the air; the indoor temperature tops 100 degrees; protective clothing is a joke; repetitive stress disorders are rampant; and there's no training on the health hazards of handling the plastics, glue, paint thinners, and other solvents in which these workers are immersed every day.

As for Wal-Mart's highly vaunted "code of conduct," NLC could not find a single worker who had ever seen or heard of it.

These factories employ mostly young women and teenage girls. Wal- Mart, renowned for knowing every detail of its global business operatins and for calculating every penny of a product's cost, knows what goes on inside these places. Yet, when confronted with these facts, corporate honchos claim ignorance and wash their hands of the exploitation: "There will always be people who break the law," says CEO Lee Scott. " It is an issue of human greed among a few people."

Those "few people" include him, other top managers, and the Walton billionaires. Each of them not only knows about their company's exploitation, but willingly prospers from a corporate culture that demands it. "Get costs down" is Wal-Mart's mantra and modus operandi, and that translates into a crusade to stamp down the folks who produce its goods and services, shamelessly building its low-price strategy and profits on their backs.

To Be Continued.....

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2003

Oh EM, you had to go and say the "W" word! Now I'm going to be riled up all day!

Indiana was part of a class-action lawsuit againt Wallmart regarding it's overtime pay policies. Once closing time came the managers would lock the doors to the store, unplug the timeclock, and make everyone work off the clock restocking shelves. Managers get bonuses for cutting costs and the easiest way to do that is by cutting salaries. It's a common occurrence for a manager to go into the computerized timekeeping system and erase an employee's overtime for the week. Wallmart has been caught doing this, they lost a lawsuit over it, and they still do it.

Now Wallmart is requiring all of it's suppliers to use RFID chips to manage inventory by 2006. Since they're the 800-pound gorilla of retail of course the suppliers are going to comply. Since it would be too cumbersome to maintain a separate, tagged inventory just for Wallmart, want to bet the suppliers end up tagging all of their merchandise no matter who the end retailer is? Another invasion of our privacy and this time the government doesn't even have to pay for it.

I just read this weekend but I'll be dammed if I can find the article now, that something like 5 out of the 10 richest people in America are members of the Walton family. I'm not against success in business in general. If they had made their money in an ethical manner then I would shop at their stores, but since they don't I won't.

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2003

Gak! Choke! Gasp! I didn't know what RFID chips were, off to the ever- helpful Google . . . first link I came to: LINK

Walmart figures heavily in it. But the other scenarios are equally frightening -- or more so! Does anyone know how to make their own shoes? I can make my own clothes . . . . unless they figure out how to make a RFID strands woven into the cloth and able to withstand cutting and still work! Makes me want to hide in a box! Hey, maybe those aluminum foil helmets will finally have a purpose -- think they could jam a signal? What a nightmare!

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2003

Joy, that article mentioned the Gillette "smart shelves" but it didn't tell you the worst part about them. Gillette is running a pilot program with Tesco (a British supermarket chain) using RFID Smart Shelves that are set up so whenever someone removes a Gillette product from the shelf, a small camera takes their picture. Another camera is triggered at the checkout when you pay for the item. The photos are compared by the security staff, anyone with a shelf photo but no checkout photo is assumed to be a shoplifter.

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2003

Well, that ought to backfire in their faces. I wouldn't pick up one of their products, even to examine it, knowing that!

Hmmm. I see market niche for the small manufacturers and the mom & pop stores -- people who don't like being spied on would shop at the places too poor to install such devices. Ya think?

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2003

Wal-Mart is on a missianic mission to xtend its exploitative ethos to the entire business world. More that 65,000 companies supply the retailer with the stuff on its shelves, and it constantly hammers each supplier about cutting their production costs deeper and deeper in order to get cheaper wholesale prices. Some companies have to open their books so Bentonville executives can red-pencil what CEO Scott terms "unnecessary costs."

Of course, among the unnecessaries to him are the use of union labor and producing goods in America, and Scott is unabashed about pointing in the direction of China or other places for abysmally low production costs. He doesn't even have to say "Move to China"-his pruchasing executives demand such an impossible lowball price from suppliers that they can only meet it if they follow Wal-Mart's labor example. With its dominance over its own 1.2 million workers and 65,000 suppliers, plus its alliances with ruthless labor abusers abroad, this one company is the world's most powerful private force for lowering labor standards and stifling the middle-class aspirations of workers everywhere.

Using its sheer size, market clout, access to capital, and massive advetising budget, the company also is squeezing out competitors and forcing it rivals to adopt its price-ie-everything approach.

Even the big boys like Toys R Us and Kroger are daunted by the company's brutish power, saying they're compelled to slash wages and search the globe for sweatshop suppliers in order to compete in the downward race to match Wal-Mart's prices.

How high a price are we willing topay for Wal-Mart's "low price" model? It hits a town or city neighborhood like a retailing neutron bomb, sucking out the economic vitality and all of the local character. And Wal-Mars's stores now have more kill-power than ever, with its Supercenters averaging 200,000 square feet-the size of more than four football fields under one roof! These things land splat on top of any community's sense of itselt and devour local business.

By slashing its retail prices way below cost when it enters a community, Wal-Mart can crush our groceries, pharmacies, hardware stores, and other retailers, then raise its prices once it has monopoly control over the market.

But, say apologists for these Big-Box megastores, at least they're creating jobs. Wrong. By crushing local businesses, this giant eliminates threee (3) decent jobs for every two (2) Wal-Mart jobs that it creates-and a store full of part-time, poorly paid employees hardly builds the family wealth necessary to sustain a community's middle-class living standard.

Indeed, Wal-Mart operates as a massive wealth extractor. Instead of profits staying in town to bereinvested locally, the money is hauled ott to Bentonvill, either to be used as capital for conquering yet another town or sijmply to be stashed in the family vaults(the Waltons, by the way just bought the biggest bank in Arkansas).

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

Well...I'm ashamed to admit that I've been shopping at Walmart for several years. Mostly I get my dry cat food and wild bird seed there. Not much of anything else, though. We have two local discount/department stores close by (Reny's and Marden's) where we try to do most of our shopping. I do have a Sam's club business membership for automotive supplies. Maybe I'll let that expire!!!!

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

No one is forced to work there at gunpoint. Its a free country. I am free to shop wherever I choose. Its just business. Often I have purchased Wal Mart" end of season" surplus for 15% of marked price or lower and tax exempt on my retailers I.D. to stock my own small retail operation at the flea markets the following season. Wal Mart is just another retail employer. Some will complain, some will like it. I accept them and use them to my best advantage.

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2003

Yes Jay, we already know you will do whatever you can to your best advantage. F*** everyone else and their annoying problems, damn whiners.

I'm on a political forum where a stereotypical republican troll occassionally drops in. He says things like, well if people are poor, they should quit whining and make more money!!

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2003

Oh, poor Jay. I return and find that once again, you've foolishly disagreed with the Queen of Misinformation and Half truths. Why do you do that? Are you bored?

Unfortunately, I'm way too busy to debate E.M. on each word in her post but in general, I can say that I doubt if the report is unbiased. I've never read one yet that was. I seriously doubt that the writer went out with the intention of reporting nothing but the truth. There's no paycheck or interest if the reporting isn't negative. And if he stirs up enough interest there can be a serial.

E.M. why do you bring stuff from other sites to this one? I appreciate it since I'm too ignorant to ferret it out for myself, if I were looking for it, but I didn't come this board to rehash crap that's on other sites. Why do you believe all this garbage to be the truth. Do you just regurgitate it without digesting it? Does it support your beliefs and does it just sound so good that you feel compelled to share it with us? Kinda like Jehovah witnesses.

Wal-Mart is no better or worse than any other big company. Every one of them is trying to cut cost and maximize profits. That's what they're in business for, to make money, not break even. Don't buy anything electronic because the components were probably put together in China. Clothes? Probably China. Shoes? Probably China. A list of products from China would be larger than the list of products from France that we buy everyday without knowing where they're from. I seriously doubt that any of these products are manufactured by anyone other than minimum wage employees or under conditions that we would put up with. But, you know, that's the problem of the country that they live in and the government that they live under. They have minimum wage laws and overtime laws just like we do. Is it our place to enforce them? Would they have a job at all without Wal-Mart?

If we boycot and protest Wal-Mart for the stated reasons, then don't we have to do the same with Lowes, Home Depot and Garden Ridge? Hell, then we might as well move on to the major malls too. Hey, if we work it right, we can live in the '60's until we die.

I, for one, will continue to shop at Wal-Mart and make no apologizes for it. When I buy a new computer, I won't care who made the components. When I purchase Gap products, if I could afford them, I won't be thinking about some Chinese making minimum wage. I don't think they worry about whether or not we're making minimum wage.

Hey, E.M. the Wildman's back!

Wildman, (taking a break from reality)

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2003

EM, I wouldnt say they need to quit whining and make more money, just that they need to quit whining and look at all other options available to them. When I felt my income wasnt enough , I took part of my meager savings and established a retail flea market. When the flea market customers had been saturated with my merchandise, I changed to produce on the basis that after a bowel movement , I had a "fresh customer" again. Later I expanded into worms and vermiculture to reduce the production overhead costs of the BISF to increase produce profits and create a diversified market addition of bait . This is the land of opportunity, you just need to exercise care and look at available options, then gradually build yourself up from the dire straits that you find yourself in. Sadly most of the whiners and complainers lack the self discipline to build upon a plan of advancement and choose instead to hope for charity to come their way. Of course it seldom does.

" A pessimist will curse the winds. An optimist will say "I am sure the winds are soon to change ". A realist will trim the sails to achieve the most of the available breeze."

And no I dont say F*** everyone. I simply dont run to their rescue while they are shafting themselves through self pity and inaction on their own part or just plain stupidity . I prefer to assist people who exhibit determination , common sense and self motivation and discipline. Show me a person who will pursue even a small advancement and protect it and build upon it and I will show you a person who has no need to whine and complain and they will benifit themselves and others. I will leave the "damn whiners" for others to console. :>)

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2003

Wow, Jack, that was really cold. I am frankly shocked at your tone. I thought we were friends. I'd love to discuss any issue, but arguing and name-calling is not so fun. Funny, I had written a warm welcome paragraph to you on Marcia's thread, decided to wait til I'd read the others before posting, and found this. Bummer.

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

EM, Be nice to Wildman. Hes been gone and forgot that that every point has its counterpoints and we provide that for each other, :>)

Welcome back Wildman. I'll check back after I finish cleaning the flowerbeds, making a couple whistles from the willows and boxing up the worm order for tomorrow.

EM, Dont hit him too hard, let him warm up spar a bit first. We'll have plenty of time for heavy debate this winter. :>)

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

Well Jay, to the best of my knowledge, I've always 'been nice' to wildman, so I have no idea why you are cautioning ME to do so now. He is the one who has characterized me as 'the queen of misinformation and half-truths.' That was a hurtful thing to say, and IMO, this is not the place for personal attacks. I consider this place a support group of folks who care about each other, and who for the most part share values (except for you of course, but you never resort to attacks.) That's the only reason I come here. I have lots of places to go for 'heavy debate,' and frankly, it gets exhausting to have to do it all the time. This is my refuge, a place of safety and support. That means to me that when we disagree on some issue, we can discuss the differing viewpoints with respect and courtesy, and hopefully learn from each other without having to be 'right.'

I am aware this is another chance for me to practice the second agreement, the one I have the hardest time with on a daily basis, and that is 'don't take anything personally.'

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

Oh EM. I evidently totally misunderstood your response to Jay.

"Yes Jay, we already know you will do whatever you can to your best advantage. F*** everyone else and their annoying problems, damn whiners. I'm on a political forum where a stereotypical republican troll occasionally drops in. He says things like, well if people are poor, they should quit whining and make more money!! ".

I don't know why, but that really sounded like an cyber slap to me. You don't think that was "hurtful"? That was even hurtful (hurtful isn't the right word to use here, I think it just pissed me off) to me because the way I read it, it indicated that anyone that disagreed with you was insensitive, opportunistic and selfish. I probably just couldn't see your grin from my house. Oh, "stereotypical republican troll"? Now, since I'm a Republican THIS year, THAT was hurtful.

"We can discuss the differing viewpoints with respect and courtesy, ". Odd, that's not how I'd have characterized your comment to Jay in this thread or to Jay and me when we disagreed with your view of the war.

I gave you a title, EM. If that's name calling, so be it. However, you're not the Queen of Misinformation and Half Truths when it comes to healing, vitamins, herbs, healthy eating, etc. There, your tops.

Jim Hightower of the Idaho Observer is the author of the article you posted. He states, in the part that was left out of your post, that he's fixing to bash the top 500 companies in the US. I'm just an old country boy but this sure sounds like a good place to insert the word "bias". In the side bar he claims that WM is using slaves (not slave labor, but slaves ) to produce their products. All credibility is suspect after that. Articles that are written like that are telling you what to think and how to act. The last thing they want to do is to give you all the information and let you make a decision for yourself but, unfortunately, most of the U.S. wants to be told how to think and what to do. We don't question anything, no matter how outrageous it sounds. It is written therefore, it must be true. It's on the news, it's gospel. No thinking required. Fall in line or be ostracized.

E.M., we've argued enough that you know I don't want to hurt your feelings but I'm not a flower child anymore, I've learned to think for myself and to question everything. I don't have a VW van with peace symbols painted on it or love beads hanging over the waterbed. I know where the "flowers have gone" and the world is still here, the air is still breathable (suspect in some cities), we're still making Nuke power plants and haven't destroyed the world yet. After 40 years, the rain forest is still being destroyed at the rate of a zillion acres an hour, (don't you think it'd be gone by now?), overpopulation hasn't caused the earth to tilt off it's axis and we still have the same world powers and the same third world countries and we're still protesting the same things we did back then. Not much has changed. Kinda of a waste of energy. Chinese who live outside the cities, and some in the cities, still live in shacks and shanties that our homeless would reject but it's always been that way and we're not going to change that by not shopping at a particular store.

Oh crap, time for my medication, I'm rambling.

Jay, your plea must have been heard. She only used one hand.

Wildman, (rambling to the medicine cabinet)

-- Anonymous, September 29, 2003

Well I ain't gonna fight with you, Jack, but there is something to be said, IMO, for stumbling in here after being gone quite a spell and jumping right into a long-standing 'conversation' that I doubt you are privy to. I can see where you were coming from, interpreting as you did my statement to Jay, but I think Jay can defend himself quite well, and I didn't say anything that doesn't reflect on his previously posted ideas and values, for which he makes no apologies.

Jim HIghtower is one of my heroes, and I'm joining heartedly in his journey, as you put it "bashing" the greediest of the greedy american corporations, and damned proud to do so. Greed at the expense of the little guy and our living environment should not be an American value, IMO. Also damn proud to own a VW bus with peace symbols on it, and my dedication to working towards a peaceful and just world where as little suffering occurs as possible. I couldn't agree more with what you said here: "The last thing they want to do is to give you all the information and let you make a decision for yourself but, unfortunately, most of the U.S. wants to be told how to think and what to do. We don't question anything, no matter how outrageous it sounds. It is written therefore, it must be true. It's on the news, it's gospel. No thinking required. Fall in line or be ostracized." Which is why I thank goodness for folks like Jim Hightower, who tell the truth, not the whitewashed crap that's on the evening american news, both in print and paper.

Incidentally, I purposely said "stereotypical republican." You seem to have confused that with 'typical Republican.' More's the pity; I know several very nice people who happen to be Republicans, and I did reckon you were one of em.

I'll light a candle for your poor confused mind, and hope you go back to posting your entertaining and humorous anecdotes. If you don't like me bringing things here that upset you, you'll have to learn to skip those threads I reckon, cuz we all already had that discussion, remember? Oh, and thanks for all the sage advice, and I'll return the favor: life is for learning, and what makes us mad is actually scaring the hell out of us.

Peace, love and all that hippie crap,

-- Anonymous, September 30, 2003

Hey, Wildman, you're back. Haven't yet read any other threads where you've posted.

You wrote: "In the side bar he claims that WM is using slaves (not slave labor, but slaves ) to produce their products. All credibility is suspect after that. Articles that are written like that are telling you what to think and how to act." (He is Jim Hightower, in case anyone has trouble picking that out from the long posts above)

First, if you have a slave who labors, s/he produces "slave labor". If the person is NOT slave, then their labor is not slave labor. So what is up with that? What do you mean "all credibility is suspect after that"? You honestly believe no one is enslaved in this world? It's irrelevant if slavery is illegal wherever people are enslaved -- if the slavers aren't caught or the laws aren't enforced, slavery is perfectly possible and a fact in some places. There are people in slavery in this country. Fortunately, for us, USUALLY it's harder to conceal here and/or to get away with.

As for telling us how to think and act, I disagree. Hightower tells us how he thinks and how he intends to act. One can agree or disagree with him, just as with any other author or columnist. If, as you say, people are not thinking for themselves, how does that make it Hightower's fault? :-/

And EM, about what's making us mad is really scaring us? Yah, got that right!

-- Anonymous, October 06, 2003

Hey Joy, glad you're back. Wasn't sure you were still here until today.

I was, happily, going to let E.M. have the last word and was certainly willing to let the thread die and would still have done so, if you hadn't ask questions. It would be rude to not answer.

This might take a while to make what I have to say clear, if I'm going to be serious. But here goes.

First, let me say I can't find the web page that I was quoting. I can find Hightowers page and although everything else seems to be the same, I can't find the one with the sidebar that states Wal-Mart is using slaves but in the article in the sidebar, he referred to "slave labor" and higher up in the sidebar, highlighted in blue was the word "slave". I had that page saved but deleted it when I thought the discussion was over. But, I'm not going to spend a lot of time looking for it.

Misinformation. Wal Mart's using slave labor. The people who are working at the sweat shops are not slave labor. They get paid a wage. They are free to leave. And while they are not forced to work there, I suspect that that's the only job they can get. The unemployment rate in China is somewhere around 4.2 to 5%. Their unemployment rate is figured differently from ours too. Those are the people that registered that are unemployed. Many are not registered. China's population is somewhere around 1.2 billion people. Quite a number of people unemployed.

While China has a minimum wage, they admit that they can't enforce it and a lot of the people are having to work for less. They state that 12 hour shifts are not uncommon either. The employer can hire less people to perform the same amount of work. Deplorable working conditions are not uncommon. From what I've been able to find, there are thousands of these operations over there that sell to the U.S. market. And not just Wal Mart. Please, don't take that to mean that only the U.S. buys from the sweat shops.

Now, I suspect that if these people could FIND another job that had better working conditions and higher pay that they'd take it. They obviously don't work there because they like it. However, I also suspect that these people can't find other work because there is no work for them or are unemployable, untrained or are handicapped and that's the reason they work where they do and put up with the conditions. Also, since most of the people employed in the overseas sweat shops are women, you'd have to understand their attitude towards women. Probably another reason why they aren't employed in better jobs.

Hightower writes or quotes from another article about their living conditions and makes it seem like it's only the ones that work in the sweat shops that sell to Wal Mart that live in these conditions. Half truth. Having lived in the Far East I can also tell you that these workers are probably the only employed family member and are living in a shack with three or four generations in the same household. The sole support for the family. Not uncommon over there. There are millions who live in shacks. In the States we'd call them homeless.

Now, Wal Mart isn't the only company that buys from these Chinese companies. Many other retailers buy from them too. Wal Mart may be the biggest purchaser. Let's say that WM enforces it's minimum wage policy and won't buy from anyone who doesn't, at least, pay the minimum wage. What do you think the chances are of one of the employees telling WM that they don't make minimum wage? I think the rest of the workers would kill them if it meant they were going to lose their job. As bad as the job is, it's probably all they've got to support them, their children, their parents and probably their grandparents. And maybe their brothers and sisters.

Let's say we bring Wal Mart to it's knees. They stop buying from these sweat shops. The Chinese are thankful that we've taken their only job away from them. We will not make one bit of improvement to the Chinese's lifestyle or working conditions nor in ours.

Joy, I never said that there aren't slaves. Yes, there are people being bought and sold in the world.

I haven't answered all your questions but this is getting too long. If you want you can certainly have the last word, if there are no more questions.

Oh, rude kids make me mad but they don't scare me. Coons killing my chickens make me mad...

Wildman, (retiring with sore fingers)

-- Anonymous, October 06, 2003

Rude kids make me mad. Why would I care if kids are rude? Has nothing to do with me after all, if someone is rude. Only reflects on the rude person. Still, rude kids make me angry. Why? Because, if I am honest, what I feel when someone is rude to me, is that I have been diminished. In that corner of myself where I never really stopped being a little girl, where I forget that I should take nothing personally, I am scared. I am scared that there is something in me that doesn't deserve to be treated with respect. I am frightened that the world is going to hell, that kindness and civility has all but died. I am leery that maybe this easily observable surface rudeness is only a outward hint of what seething and dangerous wrath may be secretly dwelling within. Yes, rude kids make me angry, make me mad because they scare me, even if I have to dig deep to find my fear. Anger is always fear; there are no exceptions.

Coons killing my chickens should be easy. I am frightened of them coming back to kill the rest, or worse. I am mad cuz I am scared of what might happen, especially if I am unsuccessful at defeating them, and feel powerless because of it.

Most of my fear, which produces anger, comes from powerlessness. That is why I must, like all humans, feel powerful. If my life circumstances have not taught me how to feel and use my true inner power, I will strike out at the world in an attempt to feel powerful, even if is is ultimately self-destructive, because I know no better way. I am scared, so I am angry.

-- Anonymous, October 08, 2003

Back to walmart. :)

The fact that other companies buy from sweatshops and exploit cheap labor and care not a whit for the environment or the legacy they leave in no way excuses Walmart. As the largest retailer on planet earth, how they conduct their business not only has unfathomable direct impact on a myriad of social, economic, and political issues, but they set a standard of behaviour that the others follow. If Walmart can follow greed as their primary motivational impetus and get away with it, then what stops the not-as-huge Walmart-worshipping corporate greedbutts from doing the same. Capitalism does not have to be ugly and selfish; indeed, when it is utilized with compassion and justice, it can become a win-win situation for all. Unfortunately, the American business model is one of greed and small-thinking, and has no way to sustain itself but to gobble up others, destroying legacies, lives, and eventually, the economy.

Power demands responsibility, and as we see what is happening in this country's leadership right now, when that leadership has no moral compass other than dominance, people and the planet suffer. When all we care about is the bottom line, be it our own precious pocketbooks that we cling tenaciously to (No new taxes, dammit!), we become short- sighted and selfish fools who refuse to see the consequences of our actions or inactions. The people still hold the power, if only they would recognize it. If they give it away, sitting quietly and pretending not to need to be involved, they become like the throngs throughout history who have let religous,corporate and governmental powers become their own very real destruction.

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2003

Well, veering away from Wal-Mart to talk about the "no new taxes damnit" bit . . . . I, and probably a LOT of others, would be less upset about paying taxes (or more taxes) if it weren't for the fact that the money is wasted and squandered at a horrendous rate.

Being alive in todays society makes my head hurt. I can't see anyway out of the numerous connundrums -- anything proposed only seems to result in more laws that aren't or can't be enforced, or more and/or worse problems before. No wonder I just want to crawl off into my escapism activities! No wonder the population at large feels the same. I'm depressing myself, until I manage to forget about it with another bout of escapism.

All our discussing and debating changes nothing one whit. Sometimes I forget that, and get back into these things. Then I remember it and run away as fast as I can, in the opposite direction. :(

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2003

You're right, Joy; our tax money has never been wasted on such a grand scale in the history of the country as it is right now.......unimaginable amounts going overseas to fill the pockets of the PTB. Disgusting. And just today the papers had an article (they are FINALLY starting to actually report the news here in the states about this 'war!) how the Bushies say they cannot afford to give the reservists serving in his stinkin war health insurance! Their priorites are clear, and they sure as hell don't give a damn about real peoples' lives, even the ones risking them as we speak.

Talking about issues may not change anything, but the hope is that words will inspire people to become active in their own lives so that things CAN change. If we don't partipate, nothing has a prayer of improving, and we become complicit in the degradation around us. There are no problems that cannot be solved by good-hearted, intellegent and humble people.

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2003

"Sitting quietly and pretending not to need to be involved". I guess talking might get you noticed; but it's not my style. I'm sorry EM, but it seems rather arrogant to me, for someone to assume that just because people aren't participating in their pet activities - marching in the streets, attending protest parties or stumping for politicians; that they aren't doing anything. Maybe they're fighting for a different cause - one that is just as important to them as politics are to you.

I'm aware that you don't think that I take the time to become involved in things outside my little world. I don't think you can see that I'm working for the causes that are IN my world. Maybe you think it's more important to work on a national or world level; but I don't. I think change happens right here - right at the home level. I don't pay one bit of attention to someone waving a placard or marching - in my eyes, that's just putting on a performance. I DO pay attention to what people in my community are actually doing to make things better.

While you're busy urging us not to support Wal-Mart; I'm busy - setting an example, by reading, by educating others in a non- confrontational manner - encouraging the people around me not to support Monsanto, Con-Agra, Tyson Foods, etc... all companies that are, in my eyes, as bad as or worse than Wal-Mart. When I tell Pop, Unc and Neighbor Mike that no, I'm not going to grow "Round-up Ready Soybeans" because I don't believe genetically modified crops are healthy or safe; and that I'm not going to sell something to someone that I wouldn't be willing to eat myself - I'm working for my cause. When they pass on the information to the guys at the coffee shop, sale barn or elevator - I'm working for my cause. When I buy locally produced seed oats and OP corn seed to plant; and then sell those crops locally - I'm making an impact on pollution and other environmental concerns. When I feed a part of those crops to my own stock - I'm making an impact, because I'm not buying a Tyson chicken and that's one less chicken shitting in the water of Southern MO. When I use the manure from my stock on my garden, and produce a major portion of the food that we need - I'm making an impact because I'm not supporting Con-Agra. When I trade seed with folks in other regions, I'm helping to maintain a genetic databank. When I stay on the family farm and work toward sustainability; I keep it out of the hands of people who are out for a fast buck and to hell with the next generation.

While you're out marching, I'm sitting quietly cutting out quilt blocks to pass on to the ladies at the Sr. Center who make quilts to go in Police vehicles and for the homeless shelter. Every child I help learn to sew when I volunteer with 4-H is one less person who has to buy their clothing at your hated Wal-Mart. Ditto the food I drop by the food bank. Every family I teach not to be afraid of taking care of a family member with AIDS is one less person dependant on the tax system for care. Every box of cookies I send to a relative or friend in the service let's them know I care about them - maybe we won't have another "Viet Vet Syndrome" on our hands after this war. Every load of laundry I do in my old wringer washer with captured rain water, then hang on the line makes an impact - less water use, less pollution, less energy used, one less water softener that needs to be manufactured, less chemicals dumped into the water. Every morning when I come home and fix breakfast for Pop and set out his meds - we're making an example because we're showing the world that an extended nuclear family is a viable option, not a freak show.

And the funny thing is - those are all my "Escapist Activities" - yeah; my family, my job, gardening, farming, the zen of sloshing water in my washer. I can make a difference while doing the things that I enjoy doing, with the people that I care most about in the world, and not wreck my health doing it.

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2003

That was beautiful, Polly! That's exactly what I was trying to get across! That to feel helpless and impotent and that everything is hopeless is what so many folks do, not realizing how powerful their contribution can be.

I don't have any idea where you got the idea that I don't see you as participating in the world! Good grief, you participate probably more than your share, and I'm proud to know ya!

-- Anonymous, October 26, 2003

I think pretty highly of you too, EM. Thanks for getting me stirred up enough to take a look at what I do contribute - sometimes it's hard to feel like you're doing anything.

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2003

New Report Details Wal-Mart's Labor Abuses and Hidden Costs

Monday, February 16, 2004

MARTINEZ, CA – Wal-Mart’s rock bottom wages and benefits cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in basic housing, medical, childcare, and energy needs that the retailer fails to properly cover for its employees, according to a report (pdf file) released today by Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez).

“Wal-Mart’s slogan should be ‘always low wages, always,’” said Miller, the senior Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee, when he unveiled the report at a press conference here this morning. Miller asked his Committee staff to prepare the report because of steadily increasing concerns about the negative impact Wal-Mart has on its employees, local economies and neighborhoods, and working conditions and wages in other countries.....



-- Anonymous, April 17, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ