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We're Not Just Pretty Faces: The Current Events Thread

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  • We're Not Just Pretty Faces: The Current Events Thread

    I thought we could use a thread to talk about non-entertainment newsy stuff.

    The LA Times has been printing an interesting series of articles on Wal-Mart and the effect its policies have on this country and the rest of the world. Part one is about the loss of jobs in the Unites States as well as the disasterous effect on health care coverage and the disappearence of the Middle Class. Part Two is about the effect their policies have in other countries.

    I have never shopped at a Wal-Mart (they don't have many in California) and have no inclination to do so. But everyone I know IRL has had to listen to me complain about these very issues over the last couple of months so I was excited to see these stories on Page One.

  • #2
    Business Week ran an incredible article in October with just really staggering statistics.

    As you know, I have a massive Wal-Mart hate. Hee.

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    • #3
      I just had a long conversation with a visiting friend about Wal-mart. She lives in a rural area and they, literally, have NO WHERE else to shop! So she didn't take kindly to me telling her to stop shopping there! Hee.

      I don't really consider myeslf an artisan -- just a crafty chick -- but lately I've been feeling really strongly about working conditions around the world -- including in the ol' USA -- and I look to see where everything is made. I blame Bill Moyers and his PBS show NOW for making me not just know it but actually THINK about it.

      I was at Old Navy yesterday and I saw that they are selling little half-marble magnets. I also sell those. They charge $5 for 12. I charge $3 for 6 and I make a little profit. Their's are made in China. I bet they make a LOT more profit than I do! At any rate, I'm so confused about what to do. I've already decided to go hand-crafted/local artists whenever possible but the world makes it almost impossible to buy affordable things without feeling a little guilty.

      Mizrahi was on Oprah showing off his first non-couture line of clothing and I kept wondering WHERE the cothes were made. Oprah was marveling at the price and I kep thinking, "How come this dress only costs me $29?" Does Oprah not know how much of the world's population has unsafe drinking water? Did the person who made this dress go home hungry? Can they get up to go pee or do they get locked in to factories until their shift is over?

      I seriously can't turn this stream of conciousness off lately! I can't even buy Target's stupid and adorable scarf and hat sets! I think that I should just learn to knit and make them myself because at least I could feel good about that, you know?

      Perhaps I'm over-sharing.
      6 YEAR COMMITMENT TO THE PAIN OF SHIPPING DE. I DONT COMMIT TO MY OWN LIFE AS MUCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND

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      • #4
        Thanks so much for the article sarah! I always like more ammo!!

        The Wal-Mart Effect has been big news in my neck of the woods because all 3 major grocery market chains in Southern California are on strike over proposed cuts to their health insurance. The grocery industry is heavily unionized and they're scared shitless over the impending invasion of those Wal-Mart grocery stores in the coming months. So for over 6 weeks I've been having to go to smaller (and more expensive) markets to buy food because I refuse to ever cross a picket line.

        Is, I know exactly how you feel. Of course I love low prices as much as the next person and am a total Target whore! This issue really came to a head for me earlier in the year when Levi Strauss closed their last US plant. All of these manufacturing jobs are just gone and I feel for people who are looking for work. It used to be that you could have a job like that and afford a home and send your kid to college. No more.

        I understand the people who live in rural places being unable to shop elsewhere, but I feel like I DO have a choice and I need to make the socially responsible one.

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        • #5
          The people in the rural places used to have options, too. I feel most Americans are caught up in "getting a good deal" and don't see the ripple effect. Of course, as you know, I think this argument applies to quite a few big boxes and chains. But you know, they did choose this. It's not Wal-Mart's fault everyone chose to shop there and turn on their old sources for goods.

          WM hammers their prices down so low until everyone goes out of business and then they up them and THEN if the store doesn't perform as they like, they CLOSE it leaving these people with nothing. We spent a huge amount of time on "The Death of Main Street" and "The Homogenization of America" in economics. It's also an issue close to my little retail heart. Hee.

          I shop that way, too, Is. It does make things more expensive and you have to search things out a little more. But, because I'm in a metropolitan area, it's not too bad. I'm not someone who has to pile the kids in the car and drive 100 miles to the nearest WM to get supplies for the week.

          If you haven't read these books, they're pretty good on the subject.
          One's by Bill Quinn and the other is by Bob Ortega.
          Last edited by Sarah; 11-24-2003, 05:18 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sarah
            I shop that way, too, Is. It does make things more expensive and you have to search things out a little more.
            In a lot of cases it's at the stage where any form of the product you need isn't made in your own country. My tampons are made in Germany for god's sake.

            Then there's the double edged sword way of thinking that troubles me to buy into - "well, at least the Vietnamese woman locked up in that compound in an offshore Pacific island haven owned by an American conglomerate *has* a job at all". They forget to mention (to us and her) she had to leave her country, family and it takes her about the first 3 years of working there to pay the company back, for what they incurred to relocate and board her, before she can actually earn anything for herself or send back to her family.

            ETA on the German tampons: They're the only brand I can find that are pure cotton. Should I put my vagina at risk for my country?
            Last edited by deux; 11-24-2003, 05:59 PM.

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            • #7
              Hi Deux!

              I don't shop at Wal-Mart and I get shit from the in-laws about thinking I'm too good to shop there, but the truth is, the merchandise isn't as nice as it is at Target (IMO) and I dislike the WM business practices. I frequently don't take the time to be careful about where what I buy was produced; I occasionally feel guilty about that, but there's only so much time I'm going to put into this.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by deux
                Should I put my vagina at risk for my country?
                *sings Let's Do it for Our Country from Grease 2*
                "But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.---Kanye

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                • #9
                  For me, it's not neccessarily "Buy American" -- I kind of think that's silly. It's mostly about how workers are treated across the globe.
                  6 YEAR COMMITMENT TO THE PAIN OF SHIPPING DE. I DONT COMMIT TO MY OWN LIFE AS MUCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND

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                  • #10
                    Vanessa- ITA. I actually got into this huge argument last summer with my SIL and BIL about this very issue. I consider myself to be socially responsible, but within reason. I'm not going to take the time to figure out where/how everything I buy is produced, but if I know that a company has questionable business practices, I'll shop elsewhere.

                    My in-laws, on the other hand, are freaks (this is the poet and his wife). They also believe that no one should buy anything that they don't actually need and were giving me and Mr. Snick shit over the fact we were considering getting a plasma TV. Given that you don't actually need anything besides food, shelter and clothing I found it to be a rather pretentious position. Especially since my SIL is a bigger shoe whore than I am!!

                    Edited to add: I think "Buy American" is silly too. We live in a global economy and need to adapt our corporate practices accordingly.

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                    • #11
                      I don't "Buy American," I just meant I'll give it to a local independent guy before a chain. It would be impossible for the family S to only buy shit made in America!

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                      • #12
                        I agree with what y'all are saying about the Walmarts of the world. My sympathies go out to the hard working folks who work in the LA groceries stores who feel they need to do something to keep their benefits and stuff, but I just feel like the whole striking thing can be counter productive. You get higher pay and better wages by driving your employer out of business? I don't geddit.

                        Furthermore, though I know Unions have done a lot of good in this country, and are still needed in many cases to protect workers, but to the extent they allow for some folks to get paid more for less work, it creates the wrong incentives (in terms of work ethic) as well as shift the burden to non-unionized workers to pick up the slack. I'm thinking specifically of Kermie's experience as an enginerd compared to unionized mechanics. It's a complex issue and the bleeding heart in me battles against my libertarian tendencies. Dude, what we really need are protections for the most vulnerable population in this country - the imigrant workers who can't even get paid minimum wage!

                        On a different but slightly related topic, I do not get the whole anti-globalization extremists. All the freakin' rioting and stuff for WTO meetings? WTF is that about? Granted there are lots of bad stuff that comes with globalization, but how is detruction of property and violence going to solve the problems? It's like the pro-life freakshows.

                        What kills me are some of the inefficiencies in our government, though it's probably better (leaner) than most bureaucracies. I work for the federal government yo. There are some of us who work our asses off, and then there are others who literally sit on their ass and do nothing yet get paid more and still they cannot be fired. Not to mention the BILLIONS of dollars spent on friggin farm subsidies, or overpayment of drugs (higher than retail I mean) and such through the Medicare system.
                        Last edited by piggay; 11-25-2003, 11:06 PM.
                        It's all about me and my precious.

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                        • #13
                          On a related note, I went to a SuperWalmart with D and Mr. D today, just for the fun of it. It was...pootastic!
                          "But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.---Kanye

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                          • #14
                            Mr. V thinks I'm being cynical for saying GWB would have never gone to Iraq if there wasn't an election year coming up, but how can I help it? He seems like such a cynical creation in and of himself.

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                            • #15
                              It's a brilliant PR move. I can't deny it.
                              6 YEAR COMMITMENT TO THE PAIN OF SHIPPING DE. I DONT COMMIT TO MY OWN LIFE AS MUCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND

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