Wal-Mart: Greed and the High Cost of Low Price
With $421.8 billion in revenues and $16.4 billion in earnings last year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (branded Walmart in 2008) tops the 2011 Fortune 500 list. Doing business under 55 different names with 8,500 locations in 15 countries, it is considered to be the world’s largest private (i.e. publicly traded) corporation. And with much of its growth based on the selling (and buying) of cheap imported goods at low prices, some estimate the success of Wal-Mart (and the “savings” of its customers) has been at the expense of thousands of small business closures and millions of American jobs exported.
“[The] contributions of the Wal-Mart Stores political action committee to federal candidates and other political committees has grown rapidly during the past decade as new stores continue to be built across the country. In recent years Wal-Mart Stores was most active [in the opposition of] clean energy, taxes and consumer safety initiatives, as well as the Employee Free Choice Act legislation of 2009.”
“In 2010, Wal-Mart and its affiliated companies spent more than $6 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies… The company also exercises considerable pull through large campaign contributions. During the 2010 election cycle alone, Wal-Mart, through its employees and political action committees, donated more than $1.6 million to federal candidates, with Republican and Democratic candidates receiving approximately equal shares of this money.”
The impact of this greed global giant on America’s politics and people has become so pervasive that the company has not only its own Wikipedia criticism page…
…but also its own watchdog website, WalmartWatch.org, whose summary assessments are as follows:
“Community Impact: Walmart passes on significant costs to many of the states and communities where it operates because so many of the company’s Associates and their families participate in publicly-funded health care and other public assistance programs because of lack of affordable health care from Walmart. At the same time, Walmart sends much of its revenue out of local communities, while local businesses keep more consumer dollars in the local economy. Walmart has created a new kind of blight by leaving vacant, abandoned stores throughout the country.”
“Corporate Responsibility: Because Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, it sets industry standards for wages, benefits and corporate responsibilities that impact millions of retail workers, their families and communities. As Walmart’s influence continues to grow at home and abroad, policymakers, media and others are asking questions about the impact of Walmart in our community. Unfortunately this impact all too often includes lowering of standards that hurt communities and families.”
“Environmental Record: In recent years, Walmart has begun efforts to become a more environmentally responsible company. The company marks this initiative as one of their flagship efforts. But these efforts do little to counteract Walmart’s basic formula of large format stores combined with imports from overseas.”
“Impact On Other Businesses: From small businesses to major chains, all grocery and retail establishments that compete with Walmart are impacted by the company. Competitors are often forced to lower wages and standards. By using a model based on low-wages, high-efficiency transportation, and imported goods, Walmart has a history of destroying once thriving downtowns across rural America. Because Walmart has saturated rural and suburban America, the company’s new growth area in the U.S. is urban communities. Additionally, Walmart’s scale gives it unprecedented control over how suppliers do business. Therefore, the company’s policies have repercussion across the entire supply system.”
“Political Power: Walmart has a sophisticated and massive lobbying effort to influence policy makers at every level Walmart and organizations directly affiliated with Walmart have sought to advance goals such as school vouchers, entering urban communities, restricting tariff protections, limiting port security, eliminating the estate tax, oppose strong worker protections, and obtaining lucrative subsidies.”
SourceWatch.org also discloses that Wal-Mart is a board member of the American Legislative Exchange Council:
‘Wal-Mart is on the corporate (“Private Enterprise”) board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Maggie Sans, Vice President of Public Affairs at Wal-Mart, represents Wal-Mart on the corporate board as of 2011. It was a “Chairman” level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000… ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) They fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators … then b!
ring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations – without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. Learn more at:’
Walmart: The High Cost Of Low Prices
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