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Wal-Mart Helps the Rural Poor? Huh?

Category: Society
Posted: 08/04/05 15:14

by Dave Mindeman

One of the commentaries in today's Star Tribune had a headline that caught my eye -- Wal-Marts's True Value: It Helps the Rural Poor Reading that article was interesting to say the least. The business "experts" that wrote the article (which appeared in the NY Times), made their arguments strictly in the business purity of dollars and cents, profit and loss. Like a lot of business concepts, people are just another commodity.

According to them, two-thirds of Wal-Marts are in rural areas saving consumers about $16 billion a year. A figure, they say, justifies what they admit are certain impositions on society like destroying jobs in competing stores, driving employees toward public welfare systems and creating urban sprawl. Items they say that even if Wal-Mart was guilty of all, still would be made up for by the $16 billion savings.

Dollars... dollars...dollars. There must be some way to make the business sector understand, dollars aren't the only factor. When Wal-Mart enters a community, it is forever changed. Jobs are not the only thing lost.... it is community co-hesiveness. That local hardware store doesn't just lose jobs, it closes down. That quiet downtown street becomes a traffic maze. Local business profits are lost to the competition of Wal-Mart and local charities will be the first to suffer, as the extra dollars are now gone.

They also talk about the increase in productivity that Wal-Mart contributes heavily to. Nobody disputes that Wal-Mart has the ideal business model. It is lean and it is mean. But what good is increased productivity brought about by an increase in low paying service sector jobs that have no health care and poverty level wage scales.

We used to worry about inflation; prices constantly going up. Business has found a way to fight inflation but it is at the expense of labor. Unions are fought at ever turn and membership continues to decline. Overseas workers are exploited back to the sweatshop days of the industrial revolution in our country. Free trade has become Cut-Throat trade. Global competition has been forcing labor to take concession after concession, while at the same time, public assistance has been slashed. Productivity and profits are the winners -- but everyone, and I mean every individual takes the hit.
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Topics Du Jour...

Posted: 08/03/05 15:04

by PDW58

Ohio seems to be a state where extraordinary political things happen, both good and bad. Yesterday a special Congressional election was held to replace Republican Rob Portman, who was appointed trade representative by Bush. This is a heavy Republican district and very conservative. It was viewed by Republicans as the safest of seats. Enter, Paul Hackett. An Iraq war veteran and a fiery critic of Bush, Hackett let loose with a no holds barred campaign that Progressives have been begging for. In a district that had lop-sided Republican victories of 70% or more, Hackett got a stunning 48% of the vote. Although, Paul deserved to win, even a showing this close has major repercussions going into 2006.

Is it just me or do Bush and Cheney's dirty words and one-finger salutes seem a little un-Christian like? I guess fundamentalists are tolerant of filthy discourse but little else.

All this talk lately of troop pullouts smells of a "cutting our losses" strategy to me. I guess you can talk about "progress" on the ground while troops continue to die, only so long. I want those troops out of there as much as anyone, but this whole post-war strategy is so botched up, that Iraq will simply become another Iran when we leave, and then how will Bush explain the loss of 1800+ troops with an end result of another cog in his "axis of evil". An Iraq-Iran coalition would provide a fulcrum for terror that will spread across the Middle East and embolden the extremists to overthrow more governments. It looks bleak....

Today's court ruling in Minnesota will allow party endorsement for Judgeships. This opens up a whole new front for the right wingers. Now the term activist judge will be a "good thing". Watch for recruitment of conservative lawyers to challenge sitting judges. It is unfortunate that the next thing to go will be an independent judiciary. Checks and balances, out the window.

Later.
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Representation?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 08/02/05 00:12

by Dave Mindeman

I have never been a fan of Gil Gutknecht but one thing is certain-- his votes reflect a true desire to represent his constituents. CAFTA is not in the best interest of Minnesota; ask a sugar beet farmer. Yet, when the vote comes down, Gutknecht stands alone against the Republican party bosses in Minnesota. John Kline and Mark Kennedy, again, follow their marching orders and even Jim Ramstad succumbs to the arm twisting. Only Rep. Gutknecht seems to understand that he represents Minnesotans and not Tom Delay's thugs. It may be easy for Rep. Kline and Rep. Kennedy to simply wait to be told how to vote on most House issues, but when Minnesota's economy is on the line, you would think that the term Representative would mean something. Gil Gutknecht deserves his title -- Kline and Kennedy need to revisit the definition.
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