November 18, 2004

John Talton is Burning Hot

Did you know that we're to blame for WM's "grip"?

Until 2003, the 13,000 residents of Circleville, Ohio, were blessed with the good jobs and benefits of an RCA television plant. That changed when the factory was shut down and its 1,000 jobs were moved to China.

Welcome to the world that Wal-Mart is making. Circleville was one of the consequences examined Tuesday night by the PBS program Frontline.

Readers of this column know of Wal-Mart's predatory and monopolistic tendencies. Two victims, Sears and Kmart, announced a defensive merger Wednesday. Frontline showed another face of "everyday low prices."

As Duke University Professor Gary Gereffi said, "China is the largest exporter to the U.S. economy in virtually all consumer goods categories. Wal-Mart is the leading retailer in the U.S. economy in virtually all consumer goods categories. Wal-Mart and China are a joint venture."

Taking an advantage of 50-cents-an-hour labor, Wal-Mart admits to importing $15 billion a year in goods from China. Some estimates are as high as $30 billion.

In the bloodless world of economics, one can say that Wal-Mart is helping to raise living standards of the Chinese. It has been a driver in the explosion of world trade, which, history shows, tends to deter war. It has perhaps helped hold down inflation, although not as much as its apologists suggest.

But there's always more to the story. As Frontline reported, Wal-Mart's non-union, low-benefits, heavily part-time workforce has become the "template" for American business. Taken to its logical end, it will undo 100 years of progress by the American middle class.

Oh, please!

The lower production costs fostered by WM's interventions have not just held down inflation--that's a really stupid thing to write. WM's interventions have increased manufacturing productivity, and significantly increased the real wages of its consumers; even non-"apologists" recognize the almost amazing impact that it's had.

This man is almost to the level of a conspiracy theorist. I'd love to see him try to provide actual citations for all his assertions. Given his point of view--all these good jobs are being sucked into China--how would he explain the fact that the number of "factory jobs" has declined more in China than in the US???

China is losing more manufacturing jobs than the United States. For the entire economy between 1995 and 2002, China lost 15 million manufacturing jobs, compared with 2 million in the U.S., The Conference Board reports in a study released today.

�As its manufacturing productivity accelerates, China is losing jobs in manufacturing � many more than the United States is � and gaining them in services, a pattern that has been playing out in the developed world for many years,� concludes The Conference Board study.

According to Robert H. McGuckin, Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board and co-author of the study: �Increased unemployment has also accompanied the restructuring of the industrial sector, but per capita income has risen over the period.�

Did WM cause ALL of this?

Posted by Kevin on November, 18 2004 at 11:45 AM