Review: Wal-Mart–The High Cost of Low Price (2005)

5 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad), True Cost & Toxicity

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5.0 out of 5 stars Good News: People Power is Starting to Work!,

May 4, 2006
Robert Greenwald
This is an important and absorbing documentary. I have nine note cards on it, and I summarize the key points that this DVD makes because I believe it should be shown in every town hall meeting where a Wal-Mart exists or threatens to arrive.

The bottom line is that the Wal-Mart family of five had made over 100 billion dollars on the backs of its “slave” employees in the US and in China, and Wal-Mart can and should be viewed as a front from the Chinese government, as a means of undermining the US economy while building up the Chinese economy. Throughout this DVD (and in the book that inspired it) hard documented incontrovertible facts are provided with respect to the manner in which Wal-Mart is subsidized by the taxpayer (e.g. over $80 million a year in assistance to Wal-Mart employees in Florida that qualify for below the poverty line assistance)–the cost to taxpayers across the country is said to total over $1.5 BILLION; Wal-Mart also fails to meet its obligations, either in return for tax abatements, or in response to consent decrees when it has been found guilty of pollution or other crimes.

* Wal-Mart does not pay fair wages and is violently anti-union to include illegal surveillance and intimidation. They short-change payroll and demand off the clock overtime, which is illegal, in order to increase their profits. The personal stories told in this DVD about employees having to choose between eating lunch or buying medicine for their children are not only heart-rending, but remind me of Third World countries where the same choice has to be made by mothers. PEOPLE POWER IS STARTING TO WORK: Wal-Mart is losing hundreds of law suits across the country to employees suing for off the clock cheating.

* Wal-Mart lies a lot. It lies about its contributions to communities (there is clear documentation that Wal-Mart destroys communities and destroys the small businesses for hundreds of miles around). Wal-Mart lies about its benefits, its wages, its environmental concerns, it lies about almost everything. I have the note “hypocritical liars.”

* Wal-Mart is eroding global labor standards. They fire their own inspectors for doing their jobs and telling the truth.

* Wal-Mart parking lots are very very unsafe. Wal-Mart has known since 1994 that their parking lots attract a great deal of crime including night-time rapes and murders, and they have also known since 1994 that a couple of unarmed security guards in uniforms riding around in golf carts would eliminate almost ALL of that crime, but they are not willing to pay for that safety just as they are not willing to pay for living wages for their employees.

* Wal-Mart has established a clear and well-documented pattern of lying to courts–of flagrant active perjury.

* PEOPLE POWER II: “plantation capitalism” will forever be linked to Wal-Mart, but the wonderful news is that the people are starting to fight back, and across America, Wal-Mart is being stopped in its tracks from hijacking local planning processes and buying out city councils.

Two additional points not covered by the documentary:

* Reviewer John Staffa does us all a favor in pointing out that Hillary Clinton was a member of the Wal-Mart board and profited from the relationship. This simply drives home the point that Democratic “leaders” are simply “Republican Lite” and no longer really interested in supporting labor unions and people's rights.

* I have reviewed many books on the end of cheap oil, and many of them make the point that companies like Wal-Mart can bring all those goods from China to the USA because of the cheap oil, which is no more. In 1974-1979 the Senate and the White House knew full well that Peak Oil was upon us. They made the treasonous decision back then to conceal this from the public and take no action in order to keep the bribes from the energy companies, and the illusion of cheap gas going. Both Wal-Mart and the US Government have essentially lied to the US public and acted against the long-term public interest. It's time we tax them back.

I strongly recommend this movie as a means of mobilizing support for blocking all new Wal-Marts, and for beginning the process of closing down existing Wal-Marts. The facts are incontrovertible. Wal-Mart kills communities. Wal-Mart is now, like Standard Oil and Exxon today, like AT&T and Microsoft, a company that has gotten pathologically powerful and needs to be broken up.

This DVD, and “The Corporation” DVD, are both essential tools in nurturing a new movement to take back the power over the US economy and the corrupt US political system. Super super work.

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