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
watch online


The comments by the gentleman regarding that the jobs lost only require a high school education and we should all earn a college degree. The major problem is the decreasing tax base due to loss of manufacturing has made college increasing out of reach without incurring an astronomical amount of debt.

Timothy Morgan
Louisville, KY


Watching your program "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" was excrutiating. There was absolutely no attempt at balance. Big bad Wal-Mart drives American businesses into bankruptcy and costs people their jobs. Where were the economists who argue that Wal-Mart is good for America or the American businesses who thrive because they can sell their products at Wal-Mart stores?

The most frustrating part of the program was the complete lack of economic analysis. For instance, no question was raised about the economic consequences of paying an unskilled machine operator $59,000.00 a year plus handsome benefits to make televisions in Circleville, Ohio. That man lost his job because he had a great union who got him great pay and benefits - for a while.

Also, Rubbermaid seemed perfectly happy to hitch its wagon to the Wal-Mart star until it could no longer provide its products to Wal-Mart at prices Wal-Mart consumers were willing to pay. When it could no longer compete, Rubbermaid labelled Wal-Mart "vindictive" for trying to keep prices low.

Next time, expend some effort making your shows balanced. The Wal-Mart phenomenon, and its impact on American business (good or bad), is fascinating and should be treated in a balanced manner.

Michael C
Austin, Texas


While watching your program I was very upset with the way Wal-Mart strong armed it's supliers. However after reading the feedback of some of the people who don't look at the problem from the same view point as I do, I can understand when some of them say it is ok for the US to fall a peg or two in it's position as an economic leader. The problem with this is money going out doesn't match or even come close to the amount comming in, except to the CEO or Stockholders of these large companys. If the savings were actualy passed on to the consumer, I mean a majority of the money saved in the purchasing of the products overseas, I could see this as ok. But when Wal-mart saves money, even a dollar per purchase, and passes a savings of 5 cents on to the customer, who is glad to have saved a nickle, this can't be justified because it does cost American jobs. Which costs American tax payers. And it is not the taxpayers that are making money off of Wal-mart.

Just my opion.

Johnny Dotson
Jarrell, Texas


Your documentary on Wal-Mart is right on the money! It exposes the number one issue confronting our nation today. We have become a debtor nation with an inept government completely controlled by greedy, self-centered business people whose god is making a quick buck at the expense of hard working honest Americans!

These so-called captains of American Industry want Americans to buy their products at hugh profits, but do not want to employ Americans to make their products. This is a major flaw in policy and is causing irreparable damage to the national security and quality of life of all Americans.

If we continue to allow these greedy short and lop sighted free trade policies to continue, we will assume third world living status in our country while China will become the undisputed/dominant economic and military superpower of the world! ...

Timothy Konopka
Howell, New Jersey


I read in numerous comments "Walmart is reducing our livig standards to that of a third world country - Walmart is evil".

Welcome to the real world. Amercians dont have a god given right to a very high level of living standard. Look elsewhere in the world - Americans are majorly pampered.

Its time to share :)

As someone that lives in a developing country, I am delighted at this generation of incomes in the third world that north american outsourcing is leading to!

Sam Reil
HK, Hong Kong


To be frank, I believe that the day that Wal-Mart got too large for the federal government to police - that is to say, watch over them with the same vigor and diligence that seems to monitor small business owners - their growth should have been curtailed legislatively.

I am a proponent of capitalism but stop short of capitalism at the expense of capitalism. In other words, they are just too freaking big and there is not a single or aggregate law enforcement agency large enough to police their activities while still enforcing the law for other, less able to pay, entrepreneurs.

In their current configuration and size, it would seem appropriate to me that at such time as any business gets too large to be adequately monitored, then tax levies and legal awards should be assessed in a much larger scale. Think of it as a kind of "price you pay" for getting too big. At their current size, Wal-Mart can afford to lobby, cheat on taxes, hire illegal immigrants and pay bribes for years and years without repercussion. I absolutely abhore what they have done and are doing to family life, religious life and our legal system - not to mention the entrepreneurs that have been carelessly discarded in their wake. ...

Perhaps it is better to have more businesses than to have larger ones.

A few words from a broken, beat and ground entrepreneur. Thank you for your time. /d

Dave L
Tulsa, OK


If PBS could manage and market itself as well as Wal Mart manages it's affairs and satisfies its customers, perhaps you wouldn't need tax money to fund your operations. How can a business that survives on money forced from a populace dare to condemn a business that flourishes via consumer freedom. Thanks to such agenda driven "journalism", I "pledge" to shop at Wal Mart and renounce contributions to your operations.

Randy Means
Fort Worth, Texas


It is we American workers who have priced ourselves right out of a job, not the lower prices at Wal-Mart. We insisted on exorbitant benefits which added such costs to our employer's overhead that now he cannot afford to employ us any longer. Add to this the bloated salaries, perks, and dividends that are handed out to non-productive management, and it's easy to see why United State's manufacturing has moved out of the country. The only ones still raking in unearned profits are the company CEO's, and sometimes the shareholder. Thanks to Wal-Mart, "them that has NOT" can still afford soft toilet paper, good shampoo, and some decent shoes. Within my small circle of friends and acquaintances, the ones who "absolutely refuse" to buy at Wal Mart earn upwards of $60,000 a year. Those of us who earn half as much are thrilled to see a new Wal Mart...and there's a lot more of US than there are of THEM!

Roberta Sproul
Portland, Oregon


Is Walmart good for America? Irrelevant! The only question that matters is " Is Walmart good for Walmart?". As a society, we need to realize that businesses exist for one reason - to make a profit. The gentleman who managed the American TV factory made one of the most uneducated statements I've ever heard, when he declared that his company existed to provide employment for its workers. That is utter nonsense! No wonder they almost went under! Vague antitrust laws allow "competitors" that have wallowed in mediocrity, to cry to Uncle Sam that the market leader in their respective field is too successful(ie. Dupont). Punishing companies for being too efficient, too inexpensive, etc, is a dangerous and collectivist action, more from the school of Marx than of Adam Smith.

Matthew Miller
Erie, PA


I was disgusted by this whole program! The West was advocating Free Trade and Open Market when they were strong economically; now that some of thirld world countries trying to play by YOUR rules, you've turned into protectionists? It's not just the US; EU is paying 40% of its budget as subsidies to 5% of its population and by this sending African farmers into misery. It's only HYPOCRISY: free trade and open markets was a good idea if it was good for 'US', now protectionism is good!

Saeed Vahid
Toronto, ON


Thank you for a very enlightening discussion. I have driven miles to shop at Walmart for the past few years just to save pennies per product. NOw I realize how I have been contributing to the downfall of our econmony and of the dignity of the American worker. Naive as it sounds, I never would have thought that a company that has SO greatly benefitted from the US consumer would be blatantly taking advantage of us at the same time. Paying CHinese workers 25-50 cents per hour is one step above slavery and we are promoting slavery when we buy from Walmart. I will never again shop there. I will faithfully support my local businesses knowing that I am spending my money for a greater good. Thanks again- I only wish that the majority of your audience would take the same tactics.

Theresa Vander
Monroe, CT


Your show was extremely educational about many government decisions that have been bad for our economy. Trade policies with asian countries seem to have put Americans at a huge disadvantage in several markets, but you focused largely on electronic assembly issues.

Wal-Mart is also the largest retailer of groceries in America. I am a food distributor, and my largest client is Wal-Mart. My goods are made locally, and our company employs thousands of Americans to produce, ship, and distribute our products. Many other food manufacturers operate the same way - FritoLay, Coca-Cola, Sara Lee bread, etc... have manufacturing and distribution centers in most major American cities, and also employ countless Americans who in turn earn living wages and boost the American economy. Wal-Mart is the largest customer for most of these companies as well.

Does Wal-Mart deserve all the credit for the positive economics of local grocery industries? Of course not, and they do not deserve all the blame for the negative economics of electronics manufacturing overseas. They may be the largest player in the retail game, but they are not the game itself.

k white
dallas, texas


Although I am a great fan of "Frontline", I was disappointed with this particular piece on Walmart. First of all, the title, "Is Walmart Good for America?" assumes that capitalism is a nation-based system. Of course Wal-Mart is not good for America, but Walmart is a ruthless example of how capitalism has always worked. What if the question was put by a Chinese national: "Is Walmart Good for China?" ARe you pitting a national battle against China? And Mr. Smith's constant reference to "Chinese guys" Chinese, China, was incredibly annoying. In the 80s it was Japan, now it's China. Shouldn't you have nuanced the context and historical change in capitalist trade? What of the unfair practices between the US and Mexico? Certainly, the US has its own share of unfair practices.

In relation to this, under the colonial period, many European and yes, Americans, benefited from the exploitation of colonial labor and colonial raw materials, which were not bought but simply extracted with forced labor. Now the colonies have become independent nations with their own incentive for development and will of course follow the capitalist path. European nations and other developed nations are anxious that their economic reign may be in decline. Although I feel for the American workers who lost their jobs to competition with China, I would appreciate a more nuanced historical outlook to how you begin your investigation.

To the one person who thought Mr. Smith's exclamation after hearing how America exports only raw materials, "We're like a Third-World country!" was "right-on", I would like to say that this assumes America is somehow by nature superior and is exempt from having to export raw materials while "Third World" countries are naturally inferior and should export raw materials. Are we still caught in the colonialist outlook?

I agree China does not practice Fair-Trade, and my own country, South-Korea is suffering the impact of the Chinese economy. However, given Frontline's usual power to look at the whole picture, I think this program needs some careful re-evaluation.

Sung Choi
Los Angeles, CA


The program missed the mark by getting caught up in the 'outsourcing manufacturing jobs' issue. The Cato Institute guy had it right - capitalism is about creative destruction, bad in the short term for people caught up in it but ultimately good for society as a whole. US consumers have proven time and again that want cheap goods more than keeping their neighbors employed.

Where Walmart really has some explaining to do is in their labor policies - refusing to take people on for more than 35 hours/week to avoid paying statutory benefits - and in their use of eminent domain to secure plots of land that they later abandon when they decide to build a bigger store down the road.

Walmart should be taking the moral high ground by providing benefits for its low-paid employees instead of doing all it can to chisel everyone that supplies products or labor to it.

chris lynn


Maybe "Affluenza" is real after all! As an investor (not in Wal-Mart stock), business owner and consumer, I found this program very interesting.

First, it's encouraging to see that this kind of reporting is still alive in America. I'm also impressed by the quality of comments posted here in response to this topic from obviously level-headed people. But, it's very sad to see when anyone questions if profits should be more important than people, the word "socialist" gets fired back, (or "anti-capitalist" and even "communist").

Fact is, there a segment of our society that wants and even depends on high unemployment in America! This leads to low wages for American workers, and higher "profits" for those who are only concerned with their stock portfolio.

The "redistribution of wealth" is not being caused by "liberals". It actually starts on Wall Street, under the cover of "conservatism".

This has been going on since before the present day Wal-Mart.

Bill N
boston, MA