Monday, September 03, 2007

In Honor of Labor Day

Robert Reich argues our nation of citizens has transformed into a nation of powerful consumers and investors driving our country's focus on securing, protecting and maintaining the integrity of our labor force out.

“You and I are complicit. Our “great deals” are somebody else’s lower pay and some corporation’s lobbying."
Consumers, many times thwart the effort of corporations to "do the right thing" by refusing to pay the additional cost required to make "the right thing" work. Reich points out consumers will choose to save a penny rather than contribute to a worthy cause citing the "dolphin-safe" canned tuna example.

“Consumers wanted a dolphin-safe product,” but “if there was a dolphin-safe can of tuna next to a regular can, people chose the cheaper product. Even if the difference was a penny.” -- J. W. Connolly, former president of Heinz, parent company of Star-Kist,

Star-kist scrapped its effort to protect dolphins because consumers were not willing to spend an extra penny.

With the advent of the internet and other new technology, newly empowered consumers tipped the scale in their direction, all of a sudden making American businesses cater to consumers to give them what they want, lower prices...and they got it, Wal-Mart being one example.

According to Reich, Wal-Mart gave into consumer demand, and took the necessary steps to ensure its consumers get lower prices. Unfortunately, lower prices come with a huge price and that is forfeiture of the rights and protection of labor.

I admit I used to be the first one to seek out lower prices and consume as much as I can thinking I had scored big-time, but not so much in the last couple of years. I finall realized most of the "stuff" I had accumulated occupied precious space for absolutely no reason other than to make the the "stuff" I do have use for unusable because I needed a GPS system to locate it, whether it be a can of tuna, my favorite shirt, can-opener or the remote control.

Maybe, Wal-Mart's not so bad after all, or "we the people" are not so innocent.

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