Posts Tagged ‘ Wal-Mart ’

Cutting Corners, Costing Safety

I get frustrated with buying things that are made in China Mexico or the like, but because EVERYTHING is made outside of the United States it is pretty much inevitable. I try to buy used goods or find things made ethically but it is difficult when the overwhelming norm is clothes made by underpaid workers (sometimes children), but ubiquitous and cheap for the U.S. consumer

There are a number of reason’s why I despise how much we outsource manufacturing, textiles etc. (reasons such as: jobs, social equality, justice, globalization, etc.), but now I have a new reason; safety.

WASHINGTON – June 14 – Key components of high-tech American “e-passports” are assembled at a manufacturing plant in Thailand with precious little security, according to inspection reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

The U.S. Government Printing Office, the agency charged with producing the new e-Passports, has been warned repeatedly since 2006 by its own security officer that the Thai manufacturing site posed a “potential long term risk to the USG (U.S. government’s) interests,” according to the reports.

The sweeping concerns ranged from the political instability of Thailand and difficulty in getting security background checks for factory workers to poor police protection.  And that country is just one of several serious vulnerabilities to the e-Passport production system flagged recently by the agency’s internal watchdog.

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Really? We are outsourcing our national security? Now, I am not a national security fanatic, I actually think we are pretty neurotic and arrogant about some of our thoughts/ideas behind national security. However, passports are valuable tools that do protect the “borders”, if you will, and regulate who is inside the country and who is not. Moreover, it offers freedom for Americans in that they can travel abroad and arrive back home without much frustration. What bewilders me is the fact this move was probably made to save money. The federal press can pay workers less in Thailand than they could in Huntington, Indiana (where I just moved from).

So capitalism wins again – this time by influencing the philosophy of our government – and what matters is not people or even safety, it is saving and making money.

To be honest though, all Americans are  partially to blame. Think about passports costing $20 more than they do now – which there would be some increase if they were made in the U.S. – people would be complaining all the time. Just as our desire for cheap goods helps to drive the negative capitalistic chain via Wal-Mart, Gap etc., it drives the federal government’s desire to save money and offer an inexpensive passport.

So just as with anything, we are all involved.

*The irony is that having passports made in the U.S. would create more jobs for Americans.

Walmart Justice?

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I don’t agree with how they treat or pay their workers, – when you are one of the biggest companies in the world and your owners are four of the ten richest people in the nation you should be offering, at least, full health-care, a living wage, and benefits – I don’t agree with establishing big-box stores, I don’t agree with planting Wal-Mart’s in small towns, eating up the local businesses and draining the local economy, I don’t agree with their negative impact on the environment – saying you are “green” and selling “green” products doesn’t count – I don’t agree with Wal-Mart’s lobbying power and I DON’T agree with their use and abuse of overseas labor – we get low prices because a) factories are moved overseas so things can be produced cheaper and b) Wal-Mart utilizes factories in nations where they can bay a substandard price.

I honestly blame Wal-Mart, and other companies, including mortgage and car loan companies, who suggest that we deserve low prices, for the recession. I know they aren’t completely to blame, but when we as a Nation and a people are spending more than we are making on a consistent basis trouble is around the corner. Our low prices come at a cost, low wages.

I honestly believe Wal-Mart doesn’t make anyone live better. Recently, Wal-Mart settled 63 lawsuits over wage issues.

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday that it would pay at least $352 million, and possibly far more, to settle lawsuits across the country claiming that it forced employees to work off the clock.

I am encouraged that this happened – there are still more lawsuits waiting to be dealt with. Any move in the positive direction is a good one, but righting wrongs in a lawsuit isn’t justice. Lawsuits help fix a past issue, but the reality is that Wal-Mart is still not just.

Wal-Mart shouldn’t just be settling lawsuits they should be pursuing justice. I don’t know if that will happen, but until it does I guess I won’t “live-better” because I won’t spend my money at Wal-Mart.


Wal-Mart – High Cost of Low Prices is a great resource and a fun watch.Here is the preview.


I think you can find the whole film online.