Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wal-Mart contributes to poverty, study finds

About 20,000 families nationwide have fallen below the official poverty line as a result of Wal-Mart’s expansion, a new study says.

During the last decade, dependence on the food stamp program nationwide increased by 8%, while in counties with Wal-Mart stores the increase was almost twice as large at 15.3%. For most Wal-Mart employees, the hours worked and the wages paid do not help their families transition out of poverty, the study said.

The study, which sought to identify the independent effect of Wal-Mart stores on changes in poverty rates, found that one of the greatest effects of a Wal-Mart opening is the closing of mom-and-pop operations. The study says that "by displacing the local class of entrepreneurs, the
Wal-Mart chain also destroys local leadership capacity."

Read more here.

There’s no comment from Wal-Mart as yet. Wonder how the Wal-Mart spin doctors will challenge this research.


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Ron Mills said...

In 1962, Sam Walton opened his first discount store in Rogers, Arkansas. And as he steered Wal-Mart's growth over the next thirty years, Sam never let anyone forget that with such tremendous success come certain moral responsibilities -- to employees and communities, as well as to customers. He led by example, and he did business with a handshake.

Sam Walton passed away in 1992, but the principles he spoke of remain true. But today's Wal-Mart has lost Sam's way. So, to mark the first anniversary of our campaign to make Wal-Mart a more responsible company, we propose a new contract with Wal-Mart's current leadership, including the company's largest shareholders: the Walton family.

Read and sign-on to our "Handshake with Sam" today.

Over the past year, Wal-Mart Watch has led a nationwide effort to highlight the many shortcomings of Wal-Mart's management practices. And while company executives have proven their ability to enact significant changes within their sprawling company, particularly on their environmental standards, they have much work left to do.

So what comes next?

Our proposed contract--published in today's New York Times--asks CEO Lee Scott and company directors to sign onto seven moral, and practical, standards to guide the 21st century Wal-Mart:

"Protect human dignity of employees"
"Ensure quality and affordable health coverage"
"Use market power to improve supplier conditions and wages"
"Enable and embrace self-sufficiency" - end dependency on tax subsidies
"Buy local first" - support domestic producers
"Keep it clean" - demonstrate sound environmental stewardship
"Prove worthy of the public trust" - offer transparency with regards to business operations
After a year of identifying Wal-Mart's many problems, today we take the first step towards offering solutions. This proposal marks a new day for our campaign and your commitment is needed to make it a success.

We hope Wal-Mart responds favorably to our proposal and chooses to ignore its bevy of Madison Avenue image-makers and beltway lobbyists. This is a real proposal, offered in good faith. Today is Wal-Mart's chance to partner with our campaign, commit to real change, and take their place as responsible business leaders for the new century.

Please join me and offer your hand to Wal-Mart and commit to work with Wal-Mart Watch to shape reforms and affect change around these seven simple principles.

Thank you.

Ron Mills


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