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Thread: PBS Frontline: Wal-Mart Good for America?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    PBS Frontline: Wal-Mart Good for America?

    You might want to watch this:
    Is Wal-Mart Good for America? (Sam's Law)
    Tuesday, November 16, at 9pm, 60 minutes
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

    Program Press release:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/press/2304.html
    Oddball
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Thanks... should be interesting!

    (I've never been in a Wal-Mart, but my 'retired' aunt works the evening shift in one)

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Changed the title line. Let's try not to use teaser titles in the Planning and the Built Environment subforums.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SideshowBob's avatar
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    This should be good. I'm gonna try to get some folks to watch it.
    Fighting congestion by widening roads is like fighting obesity by buying larger clothes.

  5. #5
    I've got a Plan Commission meeting that night that will probably run long past Frontline is over. The nice thing is that it'll be replayed sometime. Plus, Cyburbia will surely have a review
    Je suis Charlie

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I heard a "teaser" for this program on NPR this morning... a story about the last remaining TV manufacturer in the U.S., and its attempt to file a trade complaint against China for dumping low-price products into the US market. Wal-Mart took China's side. Tune in to hear the outcome.

  7. #7
    CNBC did a two-hour prgram Sunday night about Wal*Mart. Did anybody catch that? Mrs. G and I watched it and came away with yet more disdain for the Uber-retailer from Bentonville.
    Je suis Charlie

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I will try to watch tonight but does anyone really expect Wal-Mart to get a fair shake by PBS?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    They don't deserve a fair shake! They've basically said that they really are not interested in the labor conditions that their products are manufactured in and don't care about the impact on the environement they are having. Wal-Mart has passed the buck of responsibility regarding the products sold in their stores.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    I will try to watch tonight but does anyone really expect Wal-Mart to get a fair shake by PBS?
    An interesting question, given that increased financial support of public broadcasting in the U.S. is a centerpiece of W-M's current public relations campaign.

    I'll be at a planning board meeting tonight in a town of +1,400. The nearest W-M (standard retail, soon to be a Super-Duper Center) is about 15 miles south.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  11. #11
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Has anyone seen the A&E Biography on Sam Walton? Pretty good show. I especially liked the discussion on how Mr. Walton's initial investment in Bentonville helped to revitalize the city's downtown plaza area. Mmm, the good ole days......

    I fully expect PBS to give Wal Mart a fair shake. PBS is by no means Free Speech TV or the Pacifica Broadcasting Co..

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    CNBC did a two-hour prgram Sunday night about Wal*Mart. Did anybody catch that? Mrs. G and I watched it and came away with yet more disdain for the Uber-retailer from Bentonville.
    I think they are replaying this on Thanksgiving or sometime over thanksgiving weekend when the markets are closed.
    JOE ILIFF
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    I think youll be able to watch the show on the internet via streaming video.

    I just watched it. I felt they gave a good balance. The trade agreement with China in the late 1990s really made the outsourcing problem much much worse. They showed a city of 7 million in China that did not exist 20 years ago.

    The question I have:
    Why is the US so against people doing business and traveling to the communist nation of Cuba but not the communist nation of China?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pdxstreetcar
    I think youll be able to watch the show on the internet via streaming video.

    I just watched it. I felt they gave a good balance. The trade agreement with China in the late 1990s really made the outsourcing problem much much worse. They showed a city of 7 million in China that did not exist 20 years ago.

    The question I have:
    Why is the US so against people doing business and traveling to the communist nation of Cuba but not the communist nation of China?
    pdx, what a smart question you brought up. I know it's o/t, but I'm curious to know why there's such a harsh relationship between Cuba and the USA. Perhaps they haven't patch things up like what China and the USA have done. Or could it be because USA "saw" the potentials in investing in establishing a free trade with China, which turns out to be hurting the American factory employers more and more?

    Anyways, I just finished watching this PBS show and I must thank JNA for notifying us about this PBS show.

    I hope that PBS will show this documentary again because it'd be a great teaching resource to use in my future classes. If anyone knows, please let us know.

    Btw, didn't anyone feel like that the cinematography of Circleville, Ohio, was an eerie sighting?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Yeah, it was a good show. It was more balanced than I expected it to be. However, I do fear that some who view this may think:

    Wal-mart = China

    Other large retailers = USA

    While Wal-Mart may have been instrumental in leading the charge to go to China... others are over there now.

    I think free trade, in general, is better for everyone. But... and it's a big Roseanne Barr sized but... there need to be mechanisms (free speech and democracy) in place to protect the people.

    The theory behind free trade is that eventually the standard of living in China will be raised to such a degree that the massive profit margins are no longer there. If their government does not allow their people the ability to speak freely of working conditions and provide them with the ability to improve their conditions by changing those in power, then they will be able to artificially keep their wages down... which removes the the ability to create a free market.

    The good thing is that China is gorging themselves on capitalism... and it's there to stay. This kind of uncontrolled growth will have obscene consequences. If things do not slow down, there will be some type of upheaval. The likely result of that upheaval is towards the the path of democracy and free speech.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    As a person who has had to deal with a VP Communication from Wal~mart before, they must send them for a lobotomy before promoting them. that guy was one of the least effective speakers and communicator I've ever seen. You'd have thought that walmart would have asked for a list of questions before the interview so they could answer them better than "That is before my time here".

    One way they get low prices is to hire low functioning senior staff and consultants.(From personal/professional expereince)

    The real question, is a show like that going to change the buying habits of the "typical" person?

    My recent price comparison on a few thng i buy regularly showed it would be a "push". The only thing that is alot cheaper was razor blades, almost $3 a package.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hceux
    I hope that PBS will show this documentary again because it'd be a great teaching resource to use in my future classes. If anyone knows, please let us know.
    And the answer is: YES. You'll even find a teacher's guide on the website.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/teach/walmart/

    It looks like the entire program will be available online later this week.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I watched it last night too, and thought it was fair. They had the Cato Institute guy saying its all a good thing and the footage of the Walmart store people doing their morning cheerleading thing. They actually seemed happy about what they are doing there. I thought the "price point" phenomenon was interesting, where they will have an unusually low price on an item to make the shopper believe that the other similar items are at the lowest price around. Fairness aside, they disgust me more than ever. The situation that exists now isn't "fair" trade in my view. The Chinese have a much lower cost of living than the people in Circleville, Ohio, and fewer rights as well.

    Regarding the question of why the US doesn't have free trade relations with Cuba, I believe it is largely due to a vocal and politically active group of former Cubans in south Florida who are still angry at Castro and about having to flee their country. It is their way of getting back at him. My Dad has been to Cuba twice now and has witnessed the negative effects of the trade embargo with the US. One positive effect is that they don't have synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, so the food is very healthy, and many people tend tiny vegetable plots. OK, I'm getting way OT.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  19. #19

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    I enjoyed watching, although I missed the first few minutes. I think I may buy the video for future reference.

    It is true that other mega-retailers got off the hook, but most people are capable of seeing the pattern.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    I do think it was mostly fair though some of Hedrick Smith's questions were a bit breathless and relying on one former manager was suspect.

    Love em or hat'em Wal-Mart is a phenomenal business model and should be studied by every MBA candidate and school business program.

    I didn't really feel too sorry for Rubbermaid, they should have adjusted to the changing landscape, they couldn't so they failed.

    The China/Cuba discussion on the side here is interesting. The dumb reality is that China's consumer market is a little larger than Cuba's. China has made some progress moving toward a more entrepreurial state and the US cannot ignore the worlds largest country.

    We can ignore Cuba, which seems to produce very little, has made no efforts to open its society, and recent memory has them with Missles 90 miles from our mainland. I guess we are waiting for Castro to die.

    I don't mean to ascribe some moral equivalencies here. It is what it is.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian SlaveToTheGrind's avatar
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    Frontline on PBS - Anybody watch last night?

    Caught the Frontline episode last night about Wal Mart. I knew Wal Mart was bad, but now I know they are evil.

    Some things I remember:

    Herding potential vendors into small rooms to "agree" on price, even using auctions between multiple vendors for the best price - as little as a 1 cent difference.

    Clinton's trade agreement with China opened the door for WM (and others I realize) to bring in Chinese goods. It was advertised as free trade with China yet most of the Chinese cannot afford most US goods. Trade imbalance fun fact for the day - The Port of Long Beach brought in 38 billion in goods from China yet only 3 billion went back to China.

    6,000+ vendors have products in Wal Mart - 80% are made in China.

    Rubbermaid increased prices to WM since resin, necessary to make most Rubber maid products, became more expensive. WM said no and dropped most Rubbermaid products. Rubbermaid goes bankrupt and sells out. Ironically, China bought much of their machinery.

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    A Good Piece of Reporting

    I think Frontline's and Hedrick Smith's treatment of Wal-Mart was both balanced and informative. The depiction of the TV Tube manufacturer in Tennessee (5 Rivers) and their successful ligitation against the Chinese for illegal "dumping" was revealing. In that action, Wal-Mart sided with the Chinese which I'll remember the next time they tout the "buy American" hype in their campaigns.

  23. #23
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    I thought it was a pretty fair piece as well. I did note a couple of things. One was about the factory that closed because of WalMart and poor management. also when about the tvs, the same thing, WalMart and Best Buy, Circuit City, ect.

    Other than that though, it supported my idea that these stores are giving us what we are demanding, and until we demand US made products, or at least a level playing field, we are getting what we deserve. No amount of bitching about WalMart will change anything.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  24. #24

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    Another fun fact: U.S. Government Deficit+U.S. Trade Deficit absorbs 79% of the WORLD'S net savings. 79%

    The dollar is already beginning to crash. The Japanese and Chinese and Europeans can't (and maybe won't) buy enough dollars to prop up our mythological economy-which doesn't produce anything worth buying anymore. Why design a car that people actually want to buy when you can design a "financial derivatives and debt package product"? Most remaining U.S. car amnufacturers make a majority of their profits off of loaning people money to buy their (horribly designed) cars. Its sad when a Hyundai is a better car than a Chevrolet (how can anyone be a "GM Man" anymore, michaelskis? Yucko!).

    The 1930s will be a paradise compared to today.

    My relevant point: What cannot be sustained (a completely off-shored economy) will not be sustained. Of course, the whole world economy will come crashing down, as the Chinese are not any more "balanced" than we are-and they have even more amazing social and demographic problems.

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    I wonder how the just announced Sears-KMart merger will factor into all this? They'll still be smaller than Walmart. But will they have the same force that walmart has now against manufacturers and China?

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