A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wal-Mart: Helping People Out of Poverty

Liberals often pretend to be for the "little guy." They say they represent the poor, hard-working people of America.

Yet, Liberals go out of their way to create problems and throw up obstacles for a corporation that does more for poor people than Liberals could ever dream of, by providing goods at great prices. That corporation is Wal-Mart.

El Rushbo has an interesting link to an article on Wal-Mart today: Forget the World Bank, Try Wal-Mart by Michael Strong (from TCS Daily).

Here is an excerpt from that article:

Between 1990 and 2002 more than 174 million people escaped poverty in China, about 1.2 million per month.[1] With an estimated $23 billion in Chinese exports in 2005 (out of a total of $713 billion in manufacturing exports),[2] Wal-Mart might well be single-handedly responsible for bringing about 38,000 people out of poverty in China each month, about 460,000 per year.

There are estimates that 70 percent of Wal-Mart's products are made in China.[3] One writer vividly suggests that "One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market." [4] Even without considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans, or the millions lifted out of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty so effectively for so many people.[5] Moreover, insofar as China's rapid manufacturing growth has been associated with a decline in its status as a global arms dealer, Wal-Mart has also done more than its share in contributing to global peace.[6]

How can this be, given the vast and growing literature documenting Wal-Mart's faults? We have seen workers in the factories of Wal-Mart's suppliers complain on tape about being forced to work long hours under terrible conditions. Certainly no one should be forced at any workplace. And yet even articles documenting Wal-Mart's faults often mention other facts that ought to be considered before coming to too quick a judgment concerning the overall impact of the corporation. In a Washington Post story titled "Chinese Workers Pay for Wal-Mart's Low Prices," documenting abuses of workers at Wal-Mart suppliers in China, the authors point out that:
"China is the most populous country, with 1.3 billion people, most still poor enough to willingly move hundreds of miles from home for jobs that would be shunned by anyone with better prospects."
If we care about alleviating global poverty we need to take this fact seriously. Without Wal-Mart, about half a million of these people each year would be stuck in rural poverty that is, for most of them, far worse than sweatshop labor.
Those are some big numbers. Wal-Mart does a lot of good in communities all over the United States---and the World---but we don't hear much about it because Liberals/the MSM hate Wal-Mart. They would rather poor Americans spent their hard-earned money (the money that Liberals don't take via the government) purchasing small amounts of products at expensive prices than shop at Wal-Mart. I have even heard of a school district that will not reimburse teachers who buy school supplies from Wal-Mart, though they reimburse for supplies bought at other stores, simply because Wal-Mart is free, meaning it is not unionized. Silly, isn't it, to prefer that someone buy 2 books at a more expensive store when she could purchase 4 at Wal-Mart for the same price?

Regarding "sweat-shops," I have always thought it preferable to make some money every day, even in hard conditions, than make nothing while working no where. I am in no way condoning abusing one's workers, but just because someone works hard, for long hours, and is not paid much does not mean such a thing is the worst, most horrible, awful job ever. If we were to pay people by how icky their jobs are, then garbage men, undertakers, and cleaning women who have to scrub out public restrooms should be among those paid in gold every day. Sales clerks in Oklahoma are very probably paid less than sales clerks in New York City. Perhaps the NYC sales clerks should go on strike until the poor Oklahoma sales clerks are no longer paid at "sweat-shop" rates (aka Oklahoma pay rates). Hollywood celebs are paid HUGE bucks to pretend to be other people. How hard is that? I think all the women who clean celebritys' homes should go on strike until their employers (the over-paid, narcissicistic "movie stars") start paying them proper wages! If Julia Roberts gets $20 million for a few months work then her cleaning woman ought to get a nice chunk of it. After all, Julia is too busy trying on clothes and having someone do her makeup to clean her toilets.

Wal-Mart provides people with the opportunity to buy good quality products without having to sell blood. More often than not, Wal-Mart's prices are better than the sales prices of other, similar stores. That means that we, the consumers, can buy more for less. Who does not appreciate that? Other than liberals, I mean. Plus, Wal-Mart donates lots and lots of money, supplies, and more to all sorts of charities, communities, and relief-funds. After Hurricane Katrina last year, I remember hearing about how much Wal-Mart was donating. I didn't hear about John Kerry or the Heinz Foundation doing anything of the sort. Not only does Wal-Mart donate, but it encourages shoppers to do so, as well.

As with every thing in life, Wal-Mart has its problems. But those issues do not outweigh the good it does for all of us. Wal-Mart certainly strengthens our economy.

So, the next time someone rants on about Wal-Mart, bring up the article above.

More from Rush: The Democrat War on Wal-Mart

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