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Wal-Mart Isn't Guilty

Essay by   •  April 27, 2011  •  Case Study  •  822 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,271 Views

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In his article, "Don't Blame Wal-Mart", published in the New York Times on February 28, 2005, Robert B. Reich, former faculty member of Harvard University's School of Government, clearly states his reasoning that "isn't Wal-Mart really being punished for our sins?" Reich claims that it's not Wal-Mart's fault that consumers want Wal-Mart stores in their communities for the low prices and despite opposition from detractors that claim Wal-Mart "embodies the worst kind of economic exploitation...(567)" with low wages, no health care benefits for most of their employees, keeping the unions out and taking business away from small retailers.

Throughout this article, Reich surmises that consumers constantly add pressure to companies in search of a better bargain, with no regard to the detriment it may cause to employees or communities. He explains how consumers, with their less-than-informed choices, "don't fully reflect our values as workers or citizens.(567)", and the better the bargain, the tighter the pinch on wages and benefits. The easier it is to obtain products and services, "the more stress we put on our own communities. (567)"

With his argument, Reich has given the reader key points to consider in the heated debate between Wal-Mart and its opposition. By his logic, Wal-Mart didn't become "the world's largest retailer by putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to shop there. (567)" But with laws and regulations to "make our purchases a social choice as well as a personal one (567)", perhaps a bridge can be forged that will suffice not only the consumer in us, but the worker and citizen as well.

Opening his argument, Reich tells of a real estate developer that gives up on plans to open the first Wal-Mart store in a mall in New York City because of pressure received from neighborhood and labor groups, citing that Wal-Mart "turns main streets into ghost towns by sucking business away from small retailers. (567)"

Reich then explains how Wal-Mart is but one source that consumers use in the ever increasing attempt to find the best bargain in low prices and points out that corporations compete "to get and keep customers" by "passing the bulk of their cost cuts through to consumers" with low prices.(567) He sites several examples, aside from shopping at Wal-Mart, where consumers opt to take advantage of ever-increasing methods used today to get more out of their dollar spent, utilizing the internet to find the best deals on "airline tickets, books and merchandise from just about anywhere with a click of a mouse...(567)"

In contrast, Reich further explains that even though small town U.S.A. residents don't want to see their neighborhood businesses closing, they still shop online or in big retail chains, such as Wal-Mart, for not only the best prices, but the



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