Except for sex and religion, nothing motivates people like A Good Deal

How Wal-mart Effects It’s SuppliersFastcompany article on the pressure Wal-Mart puts on it’s vendors to be super-cheap, e.g., “Dobbins’s customers have begun to face imported clothing sold so cheaply to Wal-Mart that they could not compete even if they paid their workers nothing.” Also, astonishing statements like

[Wal-Mart] is at least partly responsible for the low rate of U.S. inflation, and a McKinsey & Co. study concluded that about 12% of the economy’s productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s could be traced to Wal-Mart alone.

[And…]

Last year, 7.5 cents of every dollar spent in any store in the United States (other than auto-parts stores) went to the retailer.

There’s also good points about the effect actual end-users (the shoppers who want low-prices at any cost) have on the domestic small-guy economy. Essentially, they unthinkingly pursue cheapness, ignoring the effect on domestic jobs, even their own:

It’s Wal-Mart in the role of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. And the Milwaukee employees of Master Lock who shopped at Wal-Mart to save money helped that hand shove their own jobs right to Nogales. Not consciously, not directly, but inevitably. “Do we as consumers appreciate what we’re doing?” Larrimore asks. “I don’t think so. But even if we do, I think we say, Here’s a Master Lock for $9, here’s another lock for $6–let the other guy pay $9.”

Often in the globalization debate too much emphasis is placed on faceless corporations for being at fault. But, as with out government and The Voters, the actual shoppers bare a huge part of any blame to be had as well. Shopper’s exuberance for low prices, however, seems to cloud out any other concerns: aside from sex and religion, nothing else motivates people more than a good deal.

Link from BoingBoing.

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