Wal-Mart and the Decline of Small Town Downtown in North America

During the last 20 years, Wal-Mart has moved into communities and destroyed them, wiping out stores, slashing the tax base, and turning downtown areas into ghost-towns. This is accomplished through Wal-Mart’s policy of paying workers below subsistence wages, and importing goods that have been produced under slave-labour conditions overseas. Often, communities will even give Wal-Mart tax incentives, for the right to be destroyed. Unsuspecting and unaware consumers from all socio-economic groups choose the convenience of having everything under one roof, usually at a lower price over having to visit several shops in a downtown core to find the same items. In this process they also choose an absence of personal service over the one on one service with a smile offered by most small business owners, downtown. It doesn’t take an independent business owner long to realize that his costs are exceeding his income once WalMart opens its doors. Closures, foreclosures and bankruptcies soon follow and the thriving downtown core becomes lined with empty, boarded-up stores, second hand stores and derelict buildings.

The Walmart business model has become expert at this process complete with a total lack of corporate responsibility to the community, its business owners and whatever downtown core vitality the community may already have in place. Profits are then funnelled away from the small communities and retained elsewhere.

Wal-Mart both reflects, and is, a major driving force for America’s deadly implementation of the Imperial Rome model. Unable to produce physical goods to sustain its own existence, the United States, like Rome, sucks in imported goods from around the world, using, in this case, a dollar that is over-valued by 50-60%. America has been transformed from a producer to a consumer society. From the 1940s through the early 1960s, through its technologically-advanced manufacturing-agricultural economy, America produced new value that contributed to mankind’s advancement. Through a “post-industrial society” policy, the bankers have pushed Wal-Mart to the top of the heap, so that it is now the world’s largest corporation, with $245.5 billion in sales last year. Wal-Mart, which produces no value-added whatsoever, dominates the geometry that governs the U.S. consumer society. America consumes goods that others produce, which Wal-Mart markets. Wal-Mart dictates, through its demand for low prices, that its suppliers outsource their production to foreign nations, further ripping down America’s battered domestic manufacturing and agricultural capability, in a self-feeding process.

Wal-Mart is probably one of the major foreign enemies of the United States! And, it’s based in the United States. Where Wal-Mart strides, whole communities collapse! It runs in like a vampire: It flies in by night, and sucks the blood of the citizens, and the cows, and so forth. In the morning, there’s not much left! Except unemployment and cheap labour. What Wal-Mart is doing to many communities of the Americas, is comparable to what happens to the poor Chinese, who are victims of the cheap-labour programs, which supply most of the product which Wal-Mart sells, as cheap-labour product. Wal-Mart pays its American workers sweat-shop wages, and enforces a worldwide system of concentration camp production plants, where some workers are literally kept as indentured servants. Here, we look at how Wal-Mart has laid waste communities from Iowa to Mississippi, from Ohio to Oklahoma.

 

Sam Walton started Wal-Mart in his home town of Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962. At first he concentrated on Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, along with a few other southern states. Beginning in the 1980s, he spread Wal-Mart out as a national chain, shifting from discount stores with 40-70,000 square feet of sales space, to increasingly building Sam’s Club and supercenters, which typically have 150-200,000 square feet. The idea was to use its ability to sell a huge volume of goods, its sweat-shop pay to American workers, and its flood of cheap imports, to blow apart any competition. In the October 1996 issue of Wal-Mart Today, an internal company newsletter, Tom Coughlin, executive vice president for operations, summed up the approach: “At Wal-Mart, we make dust. Our competitors eat dust.”

 

Wal-Mart certainly produces a wealth effect: the loss of wealth. Just walk through any community downtown with its empty or boarded-up stores, to see the workings of the Wal-Mart effect.

 

The process of reversing this effect may be long and difficult and can rely only on the people of the affected communities. It involves education, commitment and an interest in the rebuilding of community pride. Shop locally for locally made and grown goods and avoid spending your hard earned dollars on goods that have been shipped over oceans.

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