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Friday, December 24, 2004

WalMart prices: how low is too low?

In preparation for the holiday season, PBS, the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and Democratic party went on the warpath against Wal-Mart to encourage people to do their Christmas shopping elsewhere. We interviewed some of the leaders of these organizations to determine why.

"WalMart is definitely bad for America," reporter Hedrick Smith, producer of the PBS Frontline special "Is WalMart Good for America?" told us. "They buy goods from China, just because it's cheaper. Why not buy from America? All they care about is having the lowest prices. But it's not because they care about the customers. They want the lowest prices so you'll shop there and they'll make more money!"

"WalMart adds jobs to communities," Democratic Spokesman Weiner Soreloser said, "but they're not good jobs. We used to say they took away jobs, but we had to take that back. Now we just complain that WalMart jobs are crappy. And service jobs in communities near WalMart are also crappy. People should not have to work in jobs they don't like. People should feel fulfilled, or else not work. France has 15% unemployment, and they're happy."

"WalMart is tough, but fair," Jeff Schomburger, VP of Proctor and Gamble and a WalMart supplier told us. "They're committed to lowering costs and improving productivity. Many suppliers have adopted new technology to gain WalMart's business and improved their own business."

"See?" said Soreloser, "they are tough! Is that the American way? I don't think so."

"What concerns us is the manufacturing jobs leaving the country," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "We have tried for many years to raise the cost of labor in America. Now businesses are fighting back by going elsewhere for labor. Is that fair? People in China don't want jobs making crap for us. WalMart should use American labor. People don't want low prices.

"We need to explore the good side of inflation."

"The worst part is, poor people can go to WalMart and afford nice things," said Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP. "How can we tell poor African Americans that they need us and the Democrats to get government handouts for them - if they are able to buy what they want because of WalMart's low prices? We need to keep poor people poor and unable to afford goods they want. That way, they will stay angry and keep supporting us. Otherwise, who is going to look out for them?"

The AFL-CIO recently made a list of all US companies that outsource labor and goods from outside the country in order to organize a boycott of these companies, but had to give up when that list included all the companies in the country.