Thursday, March 03, 2005

Wal-Mart has lured customers with low prices. "We expect our suppliers to drive the costs out of the supply chain," a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said. "It's good for us and good for them."

Wal-Mart may have perfected this technique, but you can find it almost everywhere these days. Corporations are in fierce competition to get and keep customers, so they pass the bulk of their cost cuts through to consumers as lower prices. Products are manufactured in China at a fraction of the cost of making them here, and American consumers get great deals. Back-office work, along with computer programming and data crunching, is "offshored" to India, so our dollars go even further.

Meanwhile, many of us pressure companies to give us even better bargains. I look on the Internet to find the lowest price I can and buy airline tickets, books, merchandise from just about anywhere with a click of a mouse. Don't you?

The fact is, today's economy offers us a Faustian bargain: it can give consumers deals largely because it hammers workers and communities.

The New York Times - Don't Blame Wal-Mart

I find Reich's views a little simplistic and intrinsically upper-middle class...but then again, he is writing for the NYT, so perhaps he just knows his damn audience.

(Thanks, Aaron!)

((Also of interest from Aaron is this wonderful piece he read at the Christmas party: Nostalgic Instructions for Agnostic Half-Jewish Theater Dorks))