is wal-mart good for america? [home]
join the discussion: What are your thoughts about Wal-Mart and whether its success is good for America?home
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I believe that Wal-Mart pracises and policies are hurting America. I also believe that China would have a much harder time competing if they played on an even playing field when it comes to worker safety, enviormental issues, fair wages and living conditions for their workers.

Good paying jobs are being replaced with low wage jobs in this country thanks to Wal-Mart.

They are also destroying the American family. Pretty soon we will all be working on Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve at the Wal-marts of the world.

I believe that not shopping at Wal-mart is not enough.

It is time that all good Americans started striking Wal-mart stores to bring attention to these issues.

Mark Zarembka
Riverside, RI


I was reading some of the messages posted on your site by the "fans" of Wal Mart.

How arrogant to suggest that we should just reeducate everyone to take a new job just because we are allowing Wal Mart and other retailers to dictate and control our economic destiny. On a percentage basis how many college degrees do you think a Wall Mart store needs? Who has the right to smugly say "get an education so you can make a decent living". Is an average job at Wal Mart the kind of living you want?

The Wal Mart model is a pattern of destruction of life as we know it in America and an exploitation of unfairly treated foreign workers.

I spent my last dollar at Wal Mart yesterday.

Mike Powell
Hickory, NC


Who is making all the extra profits from this? Not a handful of Rockefellers, as naive idealists would like to believe. You and your pension fund capture the extra profits earned.

So, because of Walmart, consumer products are cheaper for everyone and the value of your pension increases. An increase in lifestyle, although the average person will not be cognizant of it in the same way they are when their neighbor/cousin loses his manufacturing job.

Is Frontline pandering to America?

The kinds of jobs lost require a High School diploma here in the US. no one anymore should settle for a high school diploma. We have the opportunity,and to not make use of that opportunity is....

A small point was made about Americans selling comparitevly nothing to China. This takes time, Microsoft, Citibank, GE etc... cater to sophistacated clients. China won't become sophisticated overnight. They are becoming more sophisticated at a fast pace, because of Walmart and companies like it.

Nevertheless, I thought it an extremely interesting program. Just a little too much pandering for my taste. Oh, why all the Walmart people painted in comparatively dark gray backgrounds?

Michael K


As a Chinese, I have to say that I am not completely agree with Frontline this time. The show tells us that the margin of Wal-Mart profit is very high. I know a type of sweater. Its price is about 2 dollars from Chinese factory. The selling price in the US is 40 dollars. For every 100 dollars made from the product, the Chinese only makes about 5 dollars. The US side makes 95 dollars.

Many times, when Americans say "our people" or "our sons and daughters", I cannot help to feel a sense of bigotry. Why these people put the interests of their own above everyone else? The Chinese are poor. That is unnatural and unfair. That is why market forces naturally lie on their side. Why can we not admit the simple fact: we are all human beings, equal human beings?

Look at history; do we want to repeat the Chinese Exclusion Act? Can we not transcends all the artificial boundaries and love all people like "our people"?

Charlie Shi
Clemson, SC


I missed your program - but have heard about it throughout my office since it aired. After shopping for office supplies and groceries at Wal-mart I was told by my boss, "WAL-MART is not allowed in this office." I have received notes on my desk and in the kitchen where the "Wal-mart" food lives. I have tried to defend Wal-Mart because if we stop shopping there, the workers lose. How did shopping turn into such a battle? Is it not the goal of a buisness to succeed and at the same time provide resonable prices to its customers?

chantel nasits


I'm confused. What do the Chinese do with their $200 billion trade surplus? What does one do with a "surfeit" of dollars? Perhaps, at least partly, they buy U.S. debt instruments (treasuries), maintaining a low interest rate environment for middle class America. We know they buy commodities. Maybe those dollars, which they use to purchase commodities, end up in a country whose consumers are buying American goods and services. But, if they just hold them under a pillow for future redemption, they do us no harm. ...

The thing to dread is not WalMart, but the day the Chinese decide the dollar is not a store of value. It is then that middle Americans will feel impoverished. And that has a bunch to do with the Federal Reserve and not a whit to do with WalMart.

John Flanagan
Peoria, Illinois


I am not in agreement with your premises that Walmart isundermining our economy, our job possibilites with higher wages, or any other negative aspect. If anything is hurting our economy it is the war in Irac, the high energy prices, and Federal taxesforced on the middle class citizens of this country. Walmart allows me to purchase my quality medications, my necessary clothing and many other items which those merchants in high-priced stores show their self interest by not lowering their prices to Walmart's. Folks are not arm-twisted to work for them and all employyees of Walmart with whom I come in contact are helpful, pleasant, and seem to be glad to be there. This kind of hype which you and others are proclaiming will never affect the buying of products at Walmart by lower middle class folks of which I am a 73 year old member.It is a waste of time to think people in my financial status will not see that this is simply a new form of marketing, attempting to redicule us for seeking our money's worth at a price we can afford. I will shop at Walmart anytime I choose as long as it is in business, and that,Frontline. is MY BUSINESS!

Joan Tetreault
plaistow, NewHampshire


In January of 2001, still holding a job that paid me 18.00 ph, I made the decision to stop shopping at Wal Mart just to see if I could. I had noticed every other line on my bank statement was from there. I had also had had enough of Wal Mart on the basis of not finding what was advertised in their stores, not getting any help, and taking an act of Congress to get checked out. I challenged myself...can I live without Wal Mart?? I found out it was easier than I thought. Now, having a job that pays me 10.00 LESS ph, I can still live without them. Yes, my job, was outsourced and left the country 3 years ago.

Wal Mart will still be on my NOT to do list. Seeing this piece from Frontline just makes me smile. I was right all along.

Anita Pitts
Yukon, OK


I just watched "Is Walmart Good For America?" last night and was absolutely disgusted with the tactics they use to maintain their "always low prices".

The pressure their putting on American companies is unfair, the "always low prices" facade is very misleading, and the manner in which Chinese business and political leaders are exploiting the situation & their own citizens is very disheartening.

I've got 2 simple suggestions for solving this problem:

1) "JUST QUIT SHOPPING THERE and make an effort to find out where the stuff you buy is manufactured!"

Yeah, you might have to pay more, but, if you desire a higher standard of living then you have to accept the inherent costs of that.

2) Email the link to "Is Walmart Good For America" to everyone you know and encourage them to view this report!

Aaron longtain
Saginaw, Michigan


Mr. Smith through PBS' Frontline hits an unprecedented low in creating a balance in his "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" piece. In fact, there is no balance.

Mr. Smith makes some presumtions in his piece. Some of these presumptions are job and wage entitlements. In open and/or freer markets jobs and wages have become commodities.

Mr. Smith needs to get out of his government-supported job and examine the realities of freer markets. Sadly, individuals like this are not conflicted when governments experience unrestricted growth.

Even though PBS operates on donated and government-confiscated monies, I used to have some respect for Frontline. Please restore it by having a piece describing Wal-Mart for what it truly is, a symbol of American entreprenurial skill and cunning.

Klaus Rieper
Destin, Florida


I make a living designing consumer products. For the past few years I have been designing sporting goods and apparel products. Living in Ohio I have seen what was left of our manufacturing die. What people do not realize is that the closing of a plant that manufactures TV's, clothing, or other products affects many other people other than those in that factory. The companies that supply the shipping boxes, the printers who make the manuals. Every piece of the chain is broken.

The US economy cannot survive with Wal-Mart. My job is treatened since the Chinese companies are beginning to design thier own goods. They put 200 people in a room and create catalogs of concept products. The show up at tradeshows with these product catalogs and brand names pick what they want. There is no need to pay me to design the product. With the textile tarrifs ending all thats left of the US apparel industry will be gone. Wal-Mart could lower all of its already low prices by 50% and still make billions of dollars. They dictate a profit margin of higher than 60% and most times 70-80% for the products they sell. The true costs of products is hidden from the consumer and someone needs to expose the true cost. Even that $50 microwave you think is a good deal should sell for $30. Wal-Mart will still make $10 on it. However Wal-Mart isn't happy with that, they want to make $30. ...

A massive meltdown is coming and the US economy is on its last legs. The Wal-Mart economy cannot sustain a country and is drastic measures are not taken in the next 4 years the United States will cease to exist.

Austin Rodrick
Cleveland, OH


i was so upset after watching your show .yes these business are out of control !!! not only walmart but others.this show was very informative,what we are doing to ourselves is unreal.yes we are losing jobs by the thousands!my husband makes around $35000.00 a year i am a stay at home mother of 2 and we are a paycheck to paycheck family ..from now on i will be supporting the family grociery store down the street. not only are we selling ourselves short but....has anyone thought about the implications if we were to go to war with china ? if we have no factories left over here will we get our supplies? think about it folks ..if you think i am being rediculious,my daughter brought home an american flag a few months back ,it was a small plastic one ,i am not sure where she had gotten it. i was cleaning up the toy room when i found it .i looked at it and in small print it had on it made in CHINA. our own american flag !!!

dickson, tn


Do I enjoy this news that Wal-Mart has contributed to a drain of American capital to China? No. Should American workers have the oportunity to compete? Of course. But it is profoundly arrogant and hypocritical for high income, latte sipping "limousine liberals" who can afford to avoid Wal-Mart to sit in an ivory tower and belittle: 1. The very system of capitalism which provides all their income and opportunity,2. Wal-Mart itself for doing merely what every other business in this nation's history has tried -- to master its market, and3. Consumers themselves for seeking the lowest price, instead of paying more for union-made goods.

The ability to shop at Wal-Mart and still have some cash left over for bills is a godsend for hundreds of thousands of poor in this country. Contrary to popular belief, to take out Wal-Mart is to devastate the working class, not help them. Finally, for all the other merchants who complain about Wal-Mart's "tactics" and want them gone, the answer is brutally simple and the same as it always has been: Do it better, or get out.

Roger Edwards
Norman, OK


...I don't know if it is even relevant to ask, "Is Walmart Good for America?" It is simply a matter that Walmart provides a very accurate (although somewhat unflatteing) mirror of our society and what we value: price is king. And that mirror is made in China.

John Berglund
Saint Louis, MO


Two national movements could stop Wal-Mart in its tracks: (1) Buy America, and (2) Support the union label. If Americans got behind these movements, US jobs could be saved. US corporations are being tempted oversesas because they can increase their profit margins and are allowed to get away with it. If all Americans stopped buying from those companies who take their jobs overseas, they would stop taking their jobs oveseas. Americans want to feel good about their country. They want to be patriotic. Supporting American jobs is one good way to do that. I make it a point in my own buying habits to buy American whenever possible and I buy Chinese last when there is clearly no other choice. I ask all Americans to do the same.

William Moisant


Mr. Smith has an obvious bias against Walmart, free trade and apparently the Chinese. A diverse and efficient economy like that of the United States benefits from free trade and from able competitors like Walmart. Low cost efficiencies multiply throughout our economy. It is true that limited numbers of businesses and workers are harmed. However, most of our population of 300 million benefit from the lower costs and inflation reduction provided by free trade and efficient businesses. Our GNP and per capita income have increased dramatically in recent decades. Overall job growth during this time period has been spectacular, better than any other nation. How has this been possible given the enormous concurrent growth in foreign trade and the sucess of businesses like Walmart? Apparently these trends have been good for America.

Morris McKinney
Scottsdale, Arizona