High Cost of Low Prices
I finally got a copy of the Wal-Mart Movie last night.
The "high cost" of "low price" is clearly demonstrated,
as home-owned hardware stores go under,
and the local real estate market is undermined,
and the folks work hard all day and gets no pay.
Here is a review and teaser.
NY Times Review
By Anita Gates
November 4, 2005
Robert Greenwald's ''Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price'' is not ''Fahrenheit 9/11.'' There are no goofy takeoffs of old television series. You won't see H. Lee Scott Jr., the chief executive of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer on the planet, practicing his golf swing or making revealing comments on camera.
He doesn't have to.
Mr. Greenwald's film features plenty of star witnesses, many of them former employees. Weldon Nicholson, a store-manager trainer for 17 years, says that when Wal-Mart came into a new town, management people would scan the stores along Main Street and make a game of predicting how long it would take each business to close.
Johnny Faenza, an employee of H & H Hardware, a family business in Middlefield, Ohio, that opened in 1962 but bit the dust after Wal-Mart came to town, is mystified by the corporation's unimpeded march toward monopoly. '
'They busted up Standard Oil, and they busted up Ma Bell,'' Mr. Faenza says in the film, but in this case, ''nobody seems to be paying attention.''The saddest part of this documentary is a series of shots of abandoned Main Streets, empty store after empty store, with Bruce Springsteen's plaintive version of ''This Land Is Your Land'' as accompaniment.
But vanquishing thousands of small businesses coast to coast is not Wal-Mart's only crime, its critics say.They also cite the company's treatment of its employees, whose average annual income is under $14,000. The company offers health insurance, but it is so expensive, employees say, that most people can't afford it.
According to the documentary, company representatives openly recommend that workers sign up for government-aid programs instead.
''The High Cost of Low Price'' makes its case with breathtaking force. Mr. Scott of Wal-Mart declined to speak on camera, Mr. Greenwald says. The company is worried enough about this film and growing opposition elsewhere that it has hired high-powered former presidential advisers and set up a public relations ''war room'' to deflect and respond to criticism. "
This present system does a good job of duping its participants
into believing that the lowest price is the lowest cost.
Energy policy is another good example of this pervasive mirage.
Cheap Mid-East energy lets us buy gas guzzling goofy hummer dummers
and it allows us to plop car dependent communities on top of cotton fields.
It makes a good rail system impossible and seemingly uneconomic.
It promotes dangerous inefficiencies in our food system.
It makes us think that really dumb things are smart.
The "real cost of low prices" in the energy world,
includes the costs of the army, and the costs of the navy,
that police these cheap supply lines and keep them under our thumb.
The real cost includes the depletion allowance,
the cost of cleaning the pollution from our streets and buildings,
and it includes the health costs of breathing polluted air,
and drinking polluted water.
It includes the creation of giant capital worshipping corporations.
Just like Wal-mart,
The real costs do not show up in the low price.
But they are there.
We just pay for them at another register.
As a Queen once said,
Eat the cake.
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