Imagine a scenario. Bill lives in a village, and he works as a butcher. He isn’t what one would call wealthy, but he gets by well enough to live comfortably. One day, however, a very wealthy man comes to town and starts selling meat for extremely low prices. Most everyone in the village is happy,
because now the money that they would have spent on meat they can now spend on other things. The only people who aren’t happy are the butchers. They can’t lower their prices enough to match the wealthy man’s; they need to make a living. Eventually, the butchers go out of business and have to find work elsewhere. Now imagine this happening in someone’s town in America, but instead of a wealthy man coming to town, it’s a Wal-Mart store. The same story applies; only it’s not just the butcher who goes out of business. It’s the baker, the cobbler, and the seamstress as well. Some Wal-Mart supporters say that, “Well, at least Wal-Mart creates jobs too.” But that just isn’t true. A Wal-Mart destroys three jobs for every tow that it makes (Hightower). Wal-Mart kills small businesses when they enter a town, as well as lowering the standard of living, decreasing wages, and mistreating employees.
An average Wal-Mart worker makes about seven to eight dollars an hour, works about thirty-two hours a week, and has an extremely meager health care plan (Lehman). That makes it so that a Wal-Mart worker will make about eleven thousand to thirteen thousand dollars a year, which is unacceptable by any American standard. What an average worker makes versus what an executive makes is roughly one to six-hundred (Bonaich). As if underpaying their workers wasn’t enough, Wal-Mart also make use of sneaky tactics such as forcing all workers to spend a certain amount of time pushing carts in the parking lot to weed out any employees who might be unhealthy so that they can’t submit health insurance claims (Norris). It’s no surprise that Wal-Marts turnover rate is fifty percent a year, with many of stores reaching one hundred to three hundred percent turnover (Hightower).
On December 11, 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization (or the WTO), after being pushed heavily by the Clinton administration (Barker). Now, Wal-Mart is the biggest importer of Chinese goods. Once again, however, American businesses are being adversely affected by this trading. Medium-sized companies that sell things like vacuum cleaners or televisions are having a hard time dealing with the compititon from Chinese companies that sell the same items. Retailers are looking to make the most profit they can, and since the Chinese sell things at a lower price than American companies can afford, China gets all the business. How is it that China can practically give away their products? One can simply look to its workers. Wal-Mart’s Chinese toy makers’ work conditions are, simply put, deplorable. Workers have thirteen to sixteen hour work days assembling and spray painting toys, seven days a week. China’s minimum wage is thirty-one cents an hour, but Wal-Marts production workers earn thirteen cents an hour. Workers almost constantly have headaches from all the paint residue in the air, and indoor temperatures can reach up to one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (Hightower).
Not only is Wal-Mart having an adverse effect on workers around the world, it also has an effect on the communities it lands in. In pushing for lower consumer costs, Wal-Mart also lowers worker standards. This makes a person who is working for low wages, and then in turn they are buying cheaper products. So people who buy Wal-Mart goods are in fact being pushed into a lower earnings class (Bonaich). The middle class is being destroyed, and more and more people are finding it difficult to earn a living wage. The executives of Wal-Mart used to make sixty to one of what their workers made, now it’s more like six-hundred to one (Bonaich).
Why is the American public standing for these atrocities? Why should America put up with the invasion of this capitalistic super-corporation? The good news is, however, that many communities are realizing what Wal-Mart is doing to them, and they are starting to rebel.