Friday, June 10, 2005

Back to the Future Part 2

Welcome To Wal-Mart Nation

As the United States’ population approaches 300 million, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that there are only 10 million production workers on the payroll. And their numbers are declining.

What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? It means that the U.S. economy has been unable to create jobs in export and import-competitive industries. U.S. job growth is confined to non-tradable domestic services. In short, we are importing more and more goods from abroad producing less and less tangible goods for export thereby contributing to a staggering trade deficit that must be financed by foreign credit.

Clyde Prestowitz, author of the just published “Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East”, explained that America's prosperity is an illusion. Americans feel prosperous because they are consuming $700 billion annually more than they are producing. Foreigners, principally Asians, are financing US over-consumption, because we are paying them by handing over our markets, our jobs, and our wealth.

While the “de-industrialization” of American has been going on for three decades, it has accelerated in recent years with the advent of “globalization.”

One of the biggest culprits in the move to third world labor markets is the retailing behemoth, Wal-Mart. With their motto of “Always low prices. Always” they have grown into a retailing powerhouse with sales of $256.3 billion—more than the sales of Microsoft and retail competitors Home Depot, Kroger, Target, and Costco combined.


Wal-Mart: Always Low Wages. Always (AP Photo/April L. Brown)  Posted by Hello

Wal-Mart, which bills itself as a “family friendly” business, is not so friendly when dealing with its vendors:

“Pillowtex Corp. had more than 1.2 BILLION dollars in sales, with $450 to $500 million of it with Wal-Mart according to the company's former CEO. He was quite was bitter, as he described how Wal-Mart drove his prices lower and lower. Then the store had the nerve to firmly suggest he go off-shore to get his products made. In the end, he liquidated his company and was forced to fire ALL 14,000 employees. 14,000 people all unemployed.”

Of course, those 14, 000 workers have families, but the quest for profits apparently trumps the needs of American families.

Next: Allegations of abusive labor practices and the sweatshop economy.

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