November 17, 2004

What's Wrong with WM in Bullet Points

Via evso, we find that the Center for American Progress put together anti-WM bullet points last March, reprinted below the fold.

Why do I have to keep reminding people that WM is not the largest employer in the world? My guess is that the Chinese or Russian government is much larger, the US military is larger than WM, and entire US government employs about 10x more people than WM.

Wal-Mart's In Washington

Wal-Mart, currently the largest employer in the world, has also become a lobbying powerhouse, using its considerably deep pockets to manipulate lawmakers in Washington. In 1998, the company threw off founder Sam Walton's antipathy towards influencing politics and began its campaign to take over Capitol Hill.  According to the WSJ, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) traveled to Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to offer advice on getting started: Increase your profile and open your wallet. As a result, "Made In America" is a thing of the past and anti-labor policies are the wave of Wal-Mart's future, with money paving the way to Washington.

HEY BIG SPENDER: Wal-Mart took Lott's advice. Last year, the company's political action committee was the number one corporate donor in the country, with over $1 million in contributions. Its PAC is the second largest in Washington and the committee's donations are decidedly one-sided. According to the WSJ, "Unlike most corporations, which contribute to both parties in rough proportion to Congress's partisan split," about 85% of Wal-Mart's money goes to conservatives. Wal-Mart Senior Vice President Jay Allen recently became a "Pioneer," or a contributor who has raised at least $100,000 for the Bush campaign.

THE PRESSURE IS ON: Wal-Mart employees, who are not unionized, say they have felt pressured to give to the PAC. The WSJ reports, "At an August 2000 meeting attended by thousands of Wal-Mart managers, buckets were passed around for donations, as well as forms authorizing automatic paycheck deductions for the PAC." Voluntary is in the eye of the beholder, though: "For some employees, the pressure to contribute became a point of contention. 'With my district manager sitting 3 inches over my shoulder, you think I didn't sign up?'" said Jon Lehman, a former Wal-Mart manager.

MADE IN AMERICA NO LONGER: Founder Sam Walton's autobiography was titled "Made In America." No longer. Wal-Mart more than $13 billion in goods from China last year. China is so vital to the corporation that Wal-Mart even held its annual board meeting there. Also, Wal-Mart hired trade expert Angela Marshall Hofmann to influence federal policies. Hofmann promptly pushed through language at the Central American Free Trade Agreement meeting last September allowing Mexican manufacturers to send products duty-free to the United States. Textile mills will lose business, but Wal-Mart will get cheaper wholesale products.

THE PHARMACEUTICAL PHIGHT: Last year, in order to control costs, Congress wanted to allow seniors to order prescriptions through the mail. Forget the elderly; Wal-Mart saw this as a threat to its in-store pharmacy. The bill passed but lawmakers asked the Federal Trade Commission to study "potential conflicts of interests" in mail-order companies.

WAL-MART AS BIG BROTHER: Wal-Mart may be watching you. According to recent reports, Wal-Mart conducted secret tests to monitor consumers. A store in Oklahoma inserted miniscule radio frequency identification chips (RFIL) into packages of Max Factor lipsticks. Hidden RFIL scanners then signaled nearby surveillance cameras allowing researchers 750 miles away to watch those consumers. Another Wal-mart store did the same thing with Gillette razors at another location. (Read Sen. Patrick Leahy's speech on other privacy concerns related to micro monitoring.)

FIGHTING BACK: Wal-Mart is a financial drain on American communities, and now taxpayers are fighting back. According to a report commissioned by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the average Wal-Mart supercenter worker makes $8.23 an hour. At that low wage, the average Wal-Mart store leaves taxpayers picking up the slack to the tune of about $420,750 per year, for things like welfare, free and reduced lunches for the kids of Wal-Mart families, and health insurance. Keep your eyes on communities who are trying to block the opening of Wal-Marts in their areas, like Martinsville, IN; Oregon City, OR; Windsor Township, PA; Hemet, CA; Thornton, CO, Centerville, UT and South Valley, NM.

Posted by Kevin on November, 17 2004 at 10:11 AM