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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Leading in the race to the bottom. The Washington Post has an article about the ruthless cost-cutter from Arkansas and its impact on labor. It never once mentions anti-trust. The article includes this argument:

Some economists argue that the Wal-Martization of the American workforce is simply the free-market system functioning as it should. Gary Stibel, founder and principal of the New England Consulting Group, said Wal-Mart has saved consumers more than $20 billion through its discount pricing. Figuring in Wal-Mart's pressure on other retailers to lower prices, savings top $100 billion, he said.

"In this day and age, the United States needs more companies like Wal-Mart to create jobs, even if not at the highest pay," Stibel said. "The company that makes its mark by taking the cost of manufacturing products and services up will lose, and the country that promotes that will lose."

Lord knows you need discount prices when your wage-earning possibilities are being constantly attacked by Wal-Mart. Stibel, of course, doesn't mention how many billions of dollars have been cut from paychecks due to Wal-Mart's influence. No corporation should be allowed to have anywhere near the amount of power that Wal-Mart now yields. Cutting costs means taking money out of somebody's pocket. A huge multi-national like Wal-Mart takes money out of the pockets of its employees, as well as those working for competitors, and puts it in the hands of their shareholders and corporate officers. We're indoctrinated from an early age in this country to believe in the free-market system, as Stibel does. It has obviously won out over "love thy neighbor" or "we're all in this together" as our guiding philosophy. And the vast majority of us are worse off for that.