Dawn over at www.frugalforlife.com posted an extremely thought-provoking post on Walmart and the new Wal-Mart Movie. Frontline also did a Wonderful show on "Is Wal-mart Good for America?" Clear facts and figures about Walmarts business practices. You can watch the full 60 minute program online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/view/ While you are at it, check some of their other shows like "The persuaders" about the advertising industry, and "The Secret History of Credit Cards"
Here's what I have to say on the subject of Walmart.
I have already seen several documentaries on Wal-Mart and agree with a lot of the points and comments on Dawn's post. I personally stopped shopping at WalMart years ago. And, we are fighting having them come to our town. Being 10 miles from New York City, we are not even close to rural.
Our town, and those surrounding us, have vibrant downtowns filled with unique shops. That's one of the things we love about living here. We aren't a carbon copy filled with chain stores and we want to keep it that way.
Wal-Mart does indeed lie and unethically maneuver the system in the pursuit of profit. For example, they actually had a written policy that stated they wanted to keep wages within a limit so that people would qualify for medicaid rather than them having to pay for Health benefits.
They also said they would only buy American. Hah! They have killed more American businesses than they have helped. AND they buy a huge percentage of their stuff from Asia. Not only that, they use their buying power to force small businesses here to redesign their products to make them cheaper (and lower quality) or they won't carry their products. In fact though, their strategy is to provide ridiculously low prices on endcap products to lure you in...and then most of their stuff is the same price you'd find at Kmart or Target.
Let's not even get started on how they use their power to censor artistic products like movies, music and books. I suppose we get what we deserve when we value low prices above all else. It's like when you hire a contractor just because they give you the lowest bid. You usually don't get quality. Or worse, you have to redo it. The thing is low prices lead to low wages and eventually a lower standard of living. For example, in ohio, massachusetts and vermont where factories (like Thomson electronics and Rubbermaid) were closed because they couldn't compete with China (Which most of Walmarts goods now come from China) A Walmart opens. 50 and 60 K per year jobs are now replaced with minimum wage jobs and rundown towns.
One last thing, I understand the argument that rural folks don't always have access to the product selection and low prices...but how did they survive before Wal-Mart? They had to be frugal, creative, simple and live with less stuff. Ironically, isn't that what a lot of us are trying to do?
Bringing mass consumerism to rural areas is not the solution. I don't mean to judge or offend individuals who do choose to shop at Wal-Mart. Having grown up on welfare myself, I know what it's like to be really poor. I only hope to inspire people to think about it.
For really low prices, I think you can do better at Amazon.com or even e-bay.com, where they let everyday people sell their stuff to anyone, anywhere. It's like a big online flea market where you can get amazing deals. - Now that's democratic!
Okay, I'm off my soap box now. Have a great holiday And think about this...
All the best,