Since I wrote my first mini-article on Wal-Mart, the landscape internally (US) has changed drastically. There were several sites on the Internet with various facts and figures, each pointing out another gradation in this giant’s growth and history. A new site has recently come on-line, and they are well organized, are a central voice for the many problems and issues Wal-Mart raises in America, and I salute their efforts, organization, and eventually results. You can find them at:
I recommend that anyone who reads this article visit this site, as I will not touch on those facts and allegations presented therein in great detail – as it would be redundant and of little interest to the reader. I will touch on issues that go much further than those at wakeupwalmart.com, and bring forth facts and matters that greatly concern our national security and the integrity of the Management at Wal-Mart itself. But, before I go in-depth on Wal-Mart and national security, I must mention a domestic issue that greatly concerns me and should be of alarm to anyone that reads and understands the dynamics behind Wal-Mart.
I publish on my own site, http://justanothercoverup.myblogsite.com/ , and I allow comments on anything I write. I also have promised the reader nothing but truth, and will not deviate from that stand – even when it demonstrates my own hypocrisy, albeit based on necessity (which I need to re-examine) rather than choice. A recent visitor to my site left the following comment:
But sir, I would only imagine that you probably think that what you right in the article is the truth, but I could bet all my money that you shop at Wal-Mart like million of other Americans because you need to save the money and they have the best deals, that’s my final thought.
After I read the comment, I was sleepless and troubled for many nights. There were two reasons, one obvious, one extremely subtle; The obvious was that it was true, and I have been embarrassed, confused, and down-right furious with myself for getting caught in a trap of my own state of affairs. I hate Wal-Mart, yet I shop there! Why? I have contemplated my response for many days, and at first began rationalizing to myself why I actually shop at Wal-Mart. Let’s see, they are only a few blocks away, they have everything I want in one place, and because I am disabled with a broken lumbar vertebra, it literally hurts to travel too far. It is hard for me to be away from the comfort of my home, as I have to lie down often, pace when the pain it too bad, etc. The last statement is true, but hell, everyone has a sob story, so who cares? The bottom line is that I have been patronizing a retailer that I firmly believe is destroying the US economy as well as jeopardizing the security of the United States – and my readers deserve a truthful answer as to why I have been shopping there, all the while condemning their actions.
It has taken a long time to figure out the answer myself, but once I did, Wal-Mart became even more ominous as I began to understand some of the true dynamics that have made Wal-Mart the largest, most powerful corporation in the world.
Wal-Mart is not just the world’s largest retailer. It’s the world’s largest company–bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. “Clearly,” says Edward Fox, head of Southern Methodist University’s J.C. Penney Center for Retailing Excellence, “Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer has ever been.” It is, in fact, so big and so furtively powerful as to have become an entirely different order of corporate being. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html
One thing that struck me when I moved back to Pensacola this January was the incredible amount of traffic increase to all of their local stores. I was only gone for three to three and a half years, but to the naked eye, all of the stores appear to have increased their traffic and sales by leaps and bounds! I was puzzled. Why this enormous increase in traffic? The Wal-Mart on Mobile Highway in Pensacola routinely runs out of some items on their shelves almost daily, a phenomenon I personally haven’t witnessed until I returned to Pensacola. These stores are really busy – and then reality began to dawn on me. The puzzle was coming together, and to me, the conclusion(s) are frightening.
Not to get off-track, but the subtle item I mentioned: On my site, you will also note that ABC’s online forums barred me from participating, and I always wondered why, as nothing was said off color, and quite honestly, my comments and articles were drawing an enormous amount of hits; I recorded thousands of “hits” that came to my site through the links posted on ABC, and then, suddenly, I was banned and ABC will not respond to me via email or anything else. I was angry, I wondered why, but finally just gave it up to bad luck or simply writing something one of the ABC Execs didn’t like. Then, the scandal broke about ABC and Wal-Mart:
21 House Dems hit ABC/Wal-Mart on Only in America
by Brendan UFCW
Several news sources this morning are reporting on the protest outside of ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) delivered a letter signed by 21 Democrats denouncing ABCs relationship with Wal-Mart. He also gave a fiery speech outside of the show, along with a group of local UFCW representatives and supporters.
Some great quotes from Weiner’s speech:
“To ABC News, shame on you for getting in bed with Wal-Mart”
“To try to allow Wal-Mart to continue to wrap itself in the American flag when it has been a company that has been hostile to so many American values is troubling”
When that happened, I began to connect the dots and firmly believe that Wal-Mart complained to ABC and I was quickly banned from their forum(s). At that particular time, I was running several threads on Political Crossfire, Whistle Stopper, and RAW Story’s forum in regard Wal-Mart’s impact on the American economy, and in return, Wal-Mart gave me a very quick lesson in economics – money talks! (Especially with ABC ) I have also noted that when I do shop at Wal-Mart, I am constantlyJ running into the same Managers in different parts of the store almost each and every time I shop there. Do I sound paranoid? Maybe… But, I do get my prescriptions filled on a regular basis, and yes, I have noted Wal-Mart’s presence on my Blogsite on five (5) separate occasions. (Through the referrer summary) I am assuming they regard me as a radical and maybe even as a security risk – I’m not sure, but in my world, words and truth, reaching enough people, are much more powerful than bombs or bullets. Relax Wal-Mart, no bombs or bullets from me, just simple truth and words.
Pensacola and the surrounding areas were devastated by hurricane Ivan. Many of Pensacola’s small businesses will never re-open and the economy was weakened by the aftermath of the storm. Even today, many in the area are still living in FEMA housing and thousands still have not been reimbursed by their insurance companies. Many families will never fully recover financially from the effects of the storm. In short, people have to make every dollar count, so onward the march to Wal-Mart! Can you blame them? Their base of customers is expanding as middle-class meets second-class America. Every dollar counts, one-stop shopping also saves on gas, where can you beat their prices, and what the hell is wrong with me – I sound like a damn Wal-Mart Commercial – Always the Llowest price. Always.
Why is there is frown? I just told you how great the prices were, one-stop shopping, variety, and you save so much money! Or do you? The money we are saving today is a guarantee that our children will have a very uncertain future, and will not enjoy the same life or freedoms we do, nor be acquainted with America as it exists today, and yesteryear. The threat is real, and it is here, today, now, and America needs to awaken and understand the beast we have created.
Those low, low prices have come at a cost, a cost so enormous that a true and complete assessment of the damage America has sustained from Wal-Mart has not yet been established. Wakeupwalmart.com reports that Wal-Mart’s estimated cost to federal taxpayers since January 1, 2005, is in excess of $986,529,500.00. That is NINE HUNDRED & EIGHTY-SIX BILLION, FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINE MILLION, AND FIVE HUNDRED-THOUSAND DOLLARS. My God, that’s a lot of money! Wow! Do you know how long it took to type just the money line? And I couldn’t fit it on one line, typed out, unless I reduced the font substantially. Yep. That’s a lot of cash. Maybe in your format it will fit on one line. Maybe you have a 21″ monitor!
“People ask, ‘How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?’ Sure, it’s held inflation down, and it’s great to have bargains,” says Dobbins. “But you can’t buy anything if you’re not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html
Trouble is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Looming beneath us all is the utter destruction of our economy and way of life as we have known it for so many years. When the economy is faltering, Wal-Mart is increasing its bottom-line, as more and more Americans feel the crunch of budget cuts and salary freeze’s lowering their wages and virtually forcing them to Wal-Mart to try and compensate. It helps, and like a virus, once bitten, it is hard not to succumb to the addiction of Always having the lowest price, Always. But how are they getting all of that merchandise at such low prices, and why is it five dollars more for the same item in other stores around town? Why is it Wal-Mart has the lowest prices? Don’t American companies want to compete? And what about the companies that supply Wal-Mart? Aren’t they making a killing? Isn’t this Capitalism and the American way???
No, it actually isn’t; it’s against our laws and no one seems concerned enough to raise the alarm and enforce our own anti-trust laws.
Believe it or not, American business has been through this before. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the grocery-store chain, stood astride the U.S. market in the 1920s and 1930s with a dominance that has likely never been duplicated. At its peak, A&P had five times the number of stores Wal-Mart has now (although much smaller ones), and at one point, it owned 80% of the supermarket business. Some of the antipredatory-pricing laws in use today were inspired by A&P’s attempts to muscle its suppliers. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html
Why does Wal-Mart always have the lowest prices? There are several reasons, and that story is covered much better than I could at wakeupwalmart.com. I will mention briefly, several issues that lurk beneath the usual roar of controversy surrounding Wal-Mart, but to get there, we must look at a glance how they became what they are.
To me, Sam Walton was a genius and a true American. He built an empire through shrewd bargaining and a business model that fit right in with America – one-stop shopping and we knew the stuff was made in America. Most gained, most profited, and as a company, Wal-Mart was becoming America’s pride and joy. Sam Walton was admired and remained modest and true to Wal-Mart’s values and he believed in America. What more could we ask? Well, Sam couldn’t live forever, and when he passed-on, his son’s inherited the company and Wal-Mart began to grow fangs and emerge as a dominant world-player with influence that is hard to imagine.
As America suffers, and Hurricane Ivan is a good example, Wal-Mart profits. As these customers who used to buy from Dillon’s, J.C. Penny, and even Sears, shift their dollars from old favorites in an effort to save money, the competition is responding by cutting health care benefits, paring wages, and attempting to mimic the successful Wal-Mart model as well as they could. This is a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the United States. In order to be a Wal-Mart supplier, Wal-Mart, and not the supplier is often told what Wal-Mart will pay for the product. No bargaining, no room for wriggling around, if you want to get in bed with Wal-Mart it will almost take restructuring of the company to meet the Wal-Mart price – and rather than pass on the largest retailer in the world, America’s businesses have had to comply.
It also is not unheard of for Wal-Mart to demand to examine the private financial records of a supplier, and to insist that its margins are too high and must be cut. And the smaller the supplier, one academic study shows, the greater the likelihood that it will be forced into damaging concessions. Melissa Berryhill, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, disagrees: “The fact is Wal-Mart, perhaps like no other retailer, seeks to establish collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships with our suppliers.” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html
As they comply, one by one, they do streamline their operations and this “streamlining” can and does entail many different aspects. Some companies reduce staff, cut wages, health and retirement benefits, and in an effort to stay in business in this cut-throat atmosphere, some out-source their entire manufacturing operations to third-world countries, resulting in the loss of American jobs and entire communities waking up to find out that their way of life has been changed forever. And then, with their incomes reduced, many of them join the throngs of Wal-Mart shoppers, not because they want to, but because they have to. Money is tight now. They’ve got to watch every penny, when just a few years ago, they were in that middle-class that worried just a little less about money, or where the money was going to come from for health care. Those that did keep their jobs find their benefit packages cut dramatically, and suddenly, as health care costs rise, Wal-Mart and the cheapest prescriptions in town become much more palatable. And while you’re there, look at all of those other great prices! Bingo! Another Wal-Mart addict is born.
By the way, don’t be fooled by those unemployment figures the government keeps handing out, assuring you the economy really isn’t that bad. You need to factor in something mentioned way too little; many of those “jobs” are now held by employees that lost jobs through being out-sourced, company down-sizing, etc., and now earn way less before their lives were changed by their old companies new policies. They still have to support their families and they still have to live, so they re-enter the workforce anywhere they can – usually at a lower wage with less benefits. Their lives have been irrevocably changed, and they find themselves joining the ever-growing mass of the silent majority. The fabric of America itself is actually changing- and a mass shift of the middle-class migrating to the lower class is evidence enough of this trend.
As we lose our light manufacturing capability, the economy changes, wages lower, benefits disappear, and Wal-Mart prospers and grows. And their growth makes them even more powerful – dominating more of the retail market every day, and we lose even more jobs, and the list of small and medium business and personal bankruptcies increases. Oh yeah, Congress just passed a new law making it harder to declare bankruptcy, so those who now meet their financial demise have to face tougher rules. Yep, more Wal-Mart customers on the way!
I paint a pretty dreary picture, and I know it, but their power and influence is growing exponentially and if we have the ability to stop this leviathan from devouring us completely, action is required, and it is needed fast. Wal-Mart is draining the Federal Government, as well as impacting the citizens of the United States at an alarming rate, and Wakeupwalmart.com is doing an excellent job at connecting the dots. There is where you will find your charts, facts and figures, where you can form your own opinion based on the facts, not my interpretation thereof. But, want to know the real scary part? All that I have written above is still only the tip of the iceberg! Now its time for us to look at Wal-Mart on the International scene:
Heck, lets do it right and start with excerpts from the “China Daily” and hear it from the horses mouth; what is China’s opinion of Wal-Mart, and where do they fit into China’s plans?
The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, says its inventory of stock produced in China is expected to hit US$18 billion this year, keeping the annual growth rate of over 20 per cent consistent over two years.
The trend is expected to continue, company officials revealed.
“We expect our procurement stock from China to continue to grow at a similar rate in line with Wal-Mart’s growth worldwide, if not faster,” said Lee Scott, the president and CEO (chief executive officer) of Wal-Mart.
Xu Jun, Wal-Mart Chinaâ€™s director of external affairs said:
China is Wal-Mart’s most important supplier in the world. The overseas procurement home office in Shenzhen, a city of South China’s Guangdong Province, has played a key role in the firm’s global purchasing business.
“If Wal-Mart were an individual economy, it would rank as China’s eighth-biggest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada,” Xu said.
Last year, the firm bought US$15 billion products from China, half from direct purchasing, the other from the firm’s suppliers in China.
More than 5,000 Chinese enterprises have established steady supply alliances with Wal-Mart.
Insiders point out Wal-Mart’s imports from China have largely influenced the US trade deficit in China, which is expected to reach US$150 billion this year.
So far, more than 70 per cent of the commodities sold in Wal-Mart are made in China.
In the United States, poor people find it possible to afford cheap “Made In China” products for their daily necessities, Wang said.
When you acknowledge the above facts and figures, there is no doubt or question that Wal-Mart is a vital, if not the most dominant player in China’s expansion and overall economy. In fact, the China Daily actually understated Wal-Mart’s true power and influence in China, and how it has become an integral part of their economy to such an extent that Wal-Mart is actually shaping and training the Chinese in their business model and concepts.
Letting Wal-Mart loose in China is a bold and risky move even for Beijing, which has earned a reputation for sweeping reform and smart economic management. The alliance of these two cost-cutting giants is already reshaping the global economy, restraining wage and price levels on both sides of the Pacific. Wal-Mart buys so many Chinese-made products that if it were a country, it would be China’s sixth largest export market (after Germany) and its eighth largest trade partner. The company’s iron-fisted price and performance demands on suppliers are changing the way China does business, and now that Wal-Mart is free to expand inside China, that impact will grow exponentially. Under the restrictions that just expired, Wal-Mart managed to open 42 stores in 20 Chinese cities, occupying less than 1 percent of a $550 billion retail market. Top executives now talk privately of opening “thousands” of stores in China over the next 20 years, as the market grows to estimated highs of as much as $2.4 trillion.
Indeed, Chinese fascination with the Wal-Mart model is growing fast. The company offers up its executives for seminars, where hundreds of Chinese retailers and officials gather to hear lectures on procurement, accounting, human resources and how to prevent theft. Last month Wal-Mart donated $1 million to Beijing’s Tsinghua University so that the prestigious school could establish the first institute for retailing research in the country, and Wal-Mart executives plan to sit on the board. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6700787/site/newsweek/
Wow, I’m impressed! After writing the above, it would appear that Wal-Mart is a driving factor in China’s emergence as a world economic power! From ordering the bulk of their products to training the Chinese in their philosophies and marketing strategies, Wal-Mart is playing a major role in the growth of the country. And China is learning fast, as we all know, and with their new economic power they are becoming more aggressive towards Japan, and increasingly stubborn in their refusal to back the United State’s request to consider economic sanctions against North Korea. China, the awakening giant, is only beginning to flex its power – and money, profits from good old America know-how, is building the country at a rate that has never before been witnessed. And then, after considering the above, Wal-Mart has made another concession for China, a concession that it has fought in the United States since the inception of the Corporation:
Perhaps the biggest accommodation Wal-Mart has made for China is to allow unions. Wal-Mart fights unions around the world, and resisted at first when Beijing warned the company to allow unions in its China stores. Last month Wal-Mart appeared to reverse itself, saying it would allow unions, but only if employees asked. It’s not certain if any have yet, and Chinese unions are arms of the Communist Party anyway. They generate money for the party through dues and help it keep tabs on workers; many union leaders are actually company executives. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6700787/site/newsweek/
As I recall, not too long ago a Wal-Mart in Canada voted in the union, and Wal-Mart promptly closed the store. I guess when the union is comprised of Communist Party members, unions are OK, at least for China. Hmmmm, there’s that China word again. I guess I’m scratching my head on that one, because I just don’t understand how Wal-Mart could be in bed with the Chinese. Is the almighty dollar worth selling out your own country? Is “profit” that much of a motivator, and does profit alone justify “Sleeping with the enemy?”
Strong words and even stronger allegations! No, we aren’t at war with China, however, few in America view China as a friend; Americans generally don’t trust China’s intentions, and China historically has a deep mistrust of America. It’s interesting to note that China could end the Korean Nuclear Crisis almost single-handedly; the bulk of North Korea’s food and oil come from China, and China is aware they can literally choke North Korea to death if they choose to – but they won’t and never have had the intentions to do so.
Put yourself in China’s place; they have hundreds of missiles pointed at Taiwan in case they choose to exercise their right to reintegrate Taiwan into their “One China” policy. Tensions between China and Japan are growing, and Japan is becoming extremely concerned with North Korea’s emerging nuclear capability, and the ineffectiveness of the six-party talks. In short, tensions are growing, and the US becomes even more frustrated with North Korea, knowing that China is effectively tying our hands. If you were China, why would you give-up the strategic advantage of a nuclear-armed North Korea? Is there any doubt that Korea is China’s ally? Does anyone doubt, even for one instant, that North Korea would side with China in a conflict?
I stated earlier that Wal-Mart was endangering the security of the United States. This is possibly the strongest language yet stated against Wal-Mart in this ever-growing controversy – but the facts speak for themselves. How many times, over the past few years, have we heard about Chinese Industrial Espionage cases? I remember several, and the White House itself raising the alarm about the large-scale theft of our technology and our efforts to stop the treachery. There are computer components (processors) that are (or were) illegal to export to some countries, and China was/is on that list. The United States lobbied hard for the EU to cancel the sale of advanced weaponry to China, But:
EU to discuss arms embargo, textile trade, Taiwan issue with China, diplomats
Three European Union senior diplomats will discuss with China arms sale embargo, surging textile trade and the Taiwan issue during their upcoming visit to Beijing, which is aimed at furthering the already warm China-EU relations, official said.
Ma Keqing, deputy director of the European section of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at a news briefing here on Tuesday that it will be the EU Troika foreign ministers’ first official visit to China, an important part of the celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-EU diplomatic relations.
The EU Troika Foreign Ministers, Jean Asselborn, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, the rotating EU presidential country, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, External Relations Commissioner of the EU and the representative of British Foreign Secretary, will pay an official visit to China from May 11 to 12 as guests of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
During the visit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan will meet them respectively and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will hold talks with them, Ma said.
Ma hailed China-EU relations, saying the two sides have held frequent high-level visits and dialogue at all levels, reached more consensus on major international and regional issues and witnessed surging trade and economic cooperation.
China-EU trade hit 177.3 billion US dollars in 2004, increasing by 73 times from that in 1975, when China and the European Community first forged diplomatic relations, according to Chinese statistics.
The European Union has become China’s top trade partner since it expanded to 25 members last May and China is EU’s second largest trade partner. This visit will further enrich the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and the European Union, Ma said.
It looks to me, with their economic strength and power growing daily, that China will get her arms from the EU; it is just a matter of time. The US has been adamant in its disagreement with advanced arms sales to China, however, if there is anything that all of us has learned throughout history, it’s that money talks, and China has the money!
If you take all of the above information and process it, looking at the picture with some added scenes, you eventually have to ask yourself what in the hell is Wal-Mart doing? If it’s illegal to sell certain processors, or devices, or weapons to a particular country – where does stepping-in, training an entire country in their philosophy of management, and assisting them, or actually thrusting them into being a global economic power, where they can afford to buy almost anything they want despite US interests, what do we call that? As for me, my opinion is greed and power, but on a scale which is hard for me to comprehend. The reason I find it hard to imagine is that Washington is certainly smarter than me; people with degrees and diplomas trained specifically to analyze just these types of situations all remain silent; no one has called for our Anti-trust laws to be utilized, and in the US, Wal-Mart gets off with mere hand-slapping when they’re caught breaking US labor laws.
I am not claiming to have all of the answers. In fact, I have scant few answers, and most of what I have written raises even more questions, questions that you, the reader, have to ask yourself. The facts are out there, and more are coming every day. There are now plenty of facts, which remind me of a “closing” technique I used to teach new sales people. Those in sales know it as the “Ben Franklin Close” and it’s really simple and effective when you have the superior product. Ben Franklin, when he had a problem or was pondering an important issue, would often get a piece of paper and start writing. On one side of the paper, he would list all of the “positives” of the issue, and on the other side, he would list the negatives. Then, after listing everything, he would see which side had the most entries and choose accordingly. Try it and see how it works out. Then, after you’ve connected the dots, ask yourself this question: Is the best price always the best deal? Wal-Mart will reply “Always”. What’s your answer?