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Wal-Mart Supports American Manufacturing?

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biscuit

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A town fighting the construction of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter is hardly news worthy anymore. A town using their opposition as a bargaining tool for economic development kind of is...

An economically depressed former textile community in the Pee-Dee region of South Carolina has taken a novel approach to lessinging the percieved damage done to the local economy, and the American textile industry at large, by offering to drop their opposition to the Supercenter's construction if Wal-Mart agrees to buy garments made at the local mill.

Here's the link to the news story

I for one think this is a fairly good idea. Althou, I'd be suprised if Wal-Mart goes for it. Wal-Mart get's to make money on selling to the people of the community and the people of the community get to purchase these goods because they have places to work other than Wal-Mart.
Any thoughts?
 

GeogPlanner

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If Wal-Mart did decided to pursue a deal, they would probably only pay rock bottom prices for the apparel and jobs at the factory would pay squat.
 

Mud Princess

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Interesting idea. Contrary to your subject heading, Wal-Mart really doesn't support American manufacturing. I read recently that 80% of their suppliers are from outside the United States.
 

BKM

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For a short while during, I believe, the mid/early 90s, Wal-Mart was really promoting the "Bring the Jobs Home" thing. They discovered that their customer base didn't care, they just wanted cheap prices. So, that campaign and marketing slogan went away with a wimper.

Unfortunately, many of the "Made In USA" clothes are made in Saipan, which is basically an economic colony of Taiwan and China and has labor conditions little better than the rest of China. Not a lot of benevolent paternalism in those factories.
 

jordanb

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Well, "Buy American" was always one of Sam's mottos, so Wal-Mart decided to capitalize on that; not by buying american, but by sewing "Made in America" tags on everything no matter where they came from. The unions did a bunch of exposès where they went to the factories in China and posed as customers to get them to admit that they put "Made in America" tags on their stuff, and later that they sell to Wal-Mart.

Anyhow, ether the unions got enough evidence together to prove that Wal-Mart was engaged in false advertising, or they got it made illegal, I can't remember what, so Wal-Mart abandoned the campaign.

Now it's funny I think that, since Wal-Mart is getting so much flack about how it treats its employees, it's launched a big advertising campaign to claim that it's a good employer. Nearly all advertisers stretch the truth, but Wal-Mart's one of the few that consistantly enganges in advertising campaigns that have no basis in reality whatsoever.
 

GeogPlanner

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During WWII or thereafter, didn't Japan try to sell "Made in Usa" items? Someone once told me this.
 

Wulf9

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One of the reasons that goods must be labeled with country of origin was an attempt to add another production cost to the inexpensive goods made in Japan after WWII. A lot of those goods were metal, so stamping a country of origin took time, additional tooling, and additional labor - thus raising costs.
 

AubieTurtle

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GeogPlanner said:
During WWII or thereafter, didn't Japan try to sell "Made in Usa" items? Someone once told me this.
You might be thinking of the urban legend that there was a city in Japan (sometimes the story says it is in China) named Usa. Goods were all routed through Usa where the finishing touches (one stroke of paint, one stich, etc) would be made and a "MADE IN USA" label added.

Now, I don't doubt many imported good have incorrectly been labeled as "Made in USA" when they really weren't.

Of course, nothing is more :-c than finding out your campaign sweatshirts are made in trade restricted Burma.
 

passdoubt

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I believe Sam Walton's death was the big factor in convincing Wal-Mart to use overseas sweatshop labor, not whistle-blowing.

Regardless, the local Wal-Mart here displays a huge banner with the slogan "We buy American whenever financially competitive!" over a billowing American flag. The second part of that sentence is the kicker -- it's obviously almost never "financially competitive" to buy American 'cause we have all those messy "human rights" that make it cost too much.
 

lefty

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How Wal Mart Squeezes Suppliers or..the Bentonville Blitz

The insidious thing about Wal Mart's "buying American" is the price squeeze they put on suppliers. Here's how it works:

Year 1: Wal Mart orders a quantity of goods that makes them a supplier's largest customer, and on a tight timeline. Seeing the importance of the opportunity, the supplier drops smaller, "less important" customers to make the Wal Mart deadline.

Year 2: Wal Mart orders a similar or larger quantity of goods (if they sold well). Supplier dumps more small customers to keep up with Wal Mart demand. Wal Mart may ask for price cut/concession on this larger order.

Year 3: Wal Mart, having become the supplier's principal (or only) customer, makes larger order but cuts price again. Supplier is squeezed, but since they have dumped all the small customers in the previous 2 years, they have no choice but to cut their margins in order to meet the order.

Year 3-5: Wal Mart further reduces its offer price for same or larger quantity of goods. Supplier goes bankrupt, out of business, or out of the product line, having lost all small customers and left only with Wal Mart as a loss-inducing customer.

There are other variations, but this is the basic "Bentonville Blitz"
 

plankton

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The insights, information, wit, and humor in cyburbia is really something to be appreciated.

I enjoyed reading lefty's post. Interesting stuff - I believe it to be true.

Then, onto giff's post and it's like: "hmmm, interesting picture, kinda gross though...what's the poi--- ohhh, I get it."

Good stuff.
 

ludes98

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plankton said:
I enjoyed reading lefty's post. Interesting stuff - I believe it to be true.
It is true. I think the most popular example is Vlassic pickles. I would still fault a business for ignoring its existing customer base for a new client, even a large one. I suppose it it just too enticing because of WM's commanding market share, or they have no problems moving operations/production overseas.
 

BKM

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SGB said:
For those, like me, who don't know the Vlassic pickles story, here it is.
That's an excellent article. I guess my question is: Given the relentless downward pressure on employers, wages, etc. will there be an American well-paid working class or even a Middle Class to buy things at Wal Mart? Is a spiraling to the bottom the only route?
 

jresta

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BKM said:
That's an excellent article. I guess my question is: Given the relentless downward pressure on employers, wages, etc. will there be an American well-paid working class or even a Middle Class to buy things at Wal Mart? Is a spiraling to the bottom the only route?
I guess this is o/t at this point but i was just reading this earlier today - it's from an interview with Murrak Bookchin. An influential anarchist philospher (who's in his 90's now) who writes a lot about urbanism, community, and economics. This interview took place 18 years ago. I know at the very least BKM will find it interesting.


"Already we are witnessing a decline of the American labor movement, the organized trade union movement from 1 out of 3 workers (and this is a diminishing labour force as well) to 1 out of 5. This also reflects the diminution of class consciousness even on the elementary level of trade unionism. I'm not speaking of syndicalism. I'm speaking of ordinary bread and butter trade unionism. I can also forsee perhaps a labour force that does not number more than say 17 million, after numbering very close to nearly 27 million, which will eventually go down to 10 million. will eventually go down to 7 million, will eventually go down to 5 million. Not to be able to foresee this is extremely myopic.

"I still lived in a time when there were close to 30 million farmers and now we have only 4 million. This is a tremendous revolution, first of all in the way production occurs. It's a tremendous revolution in the class structure of this society.

"Please remember very well that whether one was a Marxist or an anarchist, particularly a syndicalist, it was generally supposed that the population would become more proletarianized and that its power lay in the capacity to control the means of production. One of the primary concepts of anarcho-syndicalism, not to speak of Marxism, was the idea that the working class was the all-powerful force whose going on general strike would paralyze the system. But if so much of the working class is diminished numerically and so much of industry has become robotized, then concepts like the general strike become utterly meaningless.

"That would be the first consequence-namely the diminution of labour as a powerful force. Another consequence would be the political problem this is going to raise. With so many "irrelevant" people, so to speak, what kind of political structure is going to deal with them? What are we going to do with tens of millions of people that have no place in this society? How are they going to be used? How are they going to be employed?

"In the U.S. we still have a largely agrarian constitution built around republican principles that even the bourgeoisie did not want to accept. It benefitted from them but it didn't want to accept them. These were the principles formulated by Virginian aristocrats, based on land, who still had an agrarian perspective however much they were locked into capitalism. These are principles emerging from small farmers, compromises with the commercial bourgeoisie, not even the industrial bourgeoisie. This is the revered picture of American republicanism and American democracy. I could just as well include aspects of Canadian federalism. Such structures which we designate as "bourgeois revolutionary structures" are utterly incompatible with the future development of capitalism."


he then goes on to talk about moving jobs offshore - full text

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/bookchin/raddemocracy.html
 

giff57

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This thread has gone off topic so it is now closed
 
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