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Battling Walmart: The Monsanto of Junk Retail Corporations

  • Written by  Nigel Salazar
Walmart: Friend of the Devil Walmart: Friend of the Devil

Several years ago, a close friend of mine learned that the Monsanto of retail, Walmart, had acquired 74 acres of native Florida land on the banks of a river, near a small town known as Tarpon Springs.

My friend’s parents live near that river, just off a stretch of highway known as U.S. 19.

The river used to be near-wilderness quality and U.S. 19 used to be a quiet two-lane country road.

Now boats, jet skis and development trash most of the river…that itty-bitty country road has been transformed into a traffic-jammed, accident-plagued urban nightmare.

Is Walmart in your town or coming to your town? Stand & Fight!

Florida used to be a tropical paradise. In the past 40 years, however, Florida has literally been paved over.

Looked at from satellite in 1980, the state was tropical green from Georgia to the Keys. Looked at from satellite today, Florida is dead brown, gray and black, with a few tiny green areas remaining.

The cooling torrential rains that used to come every summer afternoon are long gone. Too many trees cut down by developers, eliminating the evapotranspiration cycle that fueled the daily thunderstorms.

The Gulf of Mexico is dying, thanks to BP, boaters, jet skiers, sewage, industrial and pesticide run-off, and overfishing.

What little is left of Florida is worth fighting for. That’s why my friend and his parents joined other activists to fight Walmart’s plans to bulldoze the 74 acres to build yet another Walmart big box store selling poorly-made Chinese goods.

This was in an area where people had at least a dozen other big box retail stores within a 20-mile radius.

Despite scientific and economic reports stating that Walmart’s development plans would kill eagles, hawks, fish, the river while also creating nightmarish traffic jams and destruction of local businesses, the Tarpon Springs board of commissioners voted in 2005 to allow Walmart to carry out its development plan.

In Tarpon Springs, many people said they had evidence of Walmart bribing politicians and others, or using threats and intimidation, to get approval of the plan.

Nobody was really surprised to hear that Walmart used strong-arm, unethical tactics to get its way. The “Christian” corporation based in Arkansas already had a long history of busting unions, abusing workers, paying poverty level wages, piss-testing, and other bully tactics.

And when the New York Times recently published a lengthy, fascinating article detailing how Walmart execs in Mexico “allegedly” used bribes, intimidation, and cover-ups to Walmartize Mexico, few if any Walmart haters were surprised.

The Times article reads like an indictment: it indicates that instead of punishing Walmart-Mexico executives who likely violated laws and ethical standards, Walmart corporate leadership rewarded the executives, chastised the whistleblowers, and covered up the violations. But what’s new?

That’s why people realize Walmart is the Monsanto of junk retail. Because Walmart and Monsanto care a lot more about corporate power and profits than they do about their employees, America, factory workers, or a healthy earth.

For example, the majority of products Walmart sells are made by poverty-wage overseas workers, most of them in China.

Walmart has been called out for selling unsafe Chinese products, such as cadmium-laden Miley Cyrus bracelets for children, available exclusively at Walmart.  

When Walmart was confronted about the products, the corporation made excuses for not pulling them off the shelves and not testing them for toxins, saying it would be too expensive!

Again, no surprise. If you look at the “food items” in Walmart stores, you see why so many Walmart shoppers are obese, have diabetes, lung cancer, and heart disease, and are addicted to Twinkies.

In all fairness, it must be pointed out that although some Walmart shoppers are just regular folks who value saving a few pennies more than they value anything else, some Walmart shoppers work hard to earn their bizarre reputation.  

For example, in 2008, in their mad rush to get holiday bargains, New York City Walmart shoppers trampled to death a Walmart greeter.

As the  Walmart employee lay dying on the ground, the shoppers stepped on him and over him, so eager they were to get those Chinese-made bargains.

"This crowd was out of control," said Police Det. Lt. Michael Fleming.

"Nobody was trying to help him," said shopper Nakea Augustine. "They were rushing in the store, rushing, rushing, rushing."

Emergency workers and police officers had to fight with the crowd just to get to the fatally-injured man.

And it is common knowledge that Walmart wages an insidious, aggressive campaign to intimidate its U.S. workers so American Walmart stores remain non-unionized, so Walmart workers have less labor protections than other Americans.

What’s especially wacky is that Walmart wears its Old South, Jesus-lovin’ family values badge front and center, while at the same time advocating brutal globalization corporate capitalism that Jesus would certainly have condemned.

With nearly 9,000 stores in at least 15 countries worldwide, wherever Walmart goes, smaller businesses close, jobs are lost, and the local economy suffers.

There’s even been a book written about the irony of a self-described patriotic, America-first, Christian retail corporation selling inferior communist-made products mostly to poor people, while paying extremely low wages, handing over millions of dollars to corporate executives, and raking in billions in profits every year.

Clearly, Walmart (and its affiliated Sam’s Club discount chain) are the Monsanto of American retail. Just what can you do to fight the Walmart corporate empire?

Your most obvious tactic is to never shop there. Pass this article along to friends, family and co-workers, especially people who do shop at Walmart and Sam’s Club.

It’s important that we see the connection between where we spend our money, and the corporations that profit from us.

You can join national and local groups that fight Walmart, and there are plenty of them.

Walmart’s defenders say Walmart is a wonderful corporation that provides jobs, revitalizes communities, and sells cheap goods to make life more affordable. The reality is Walmart is a harmful global multinational corporation just like Monsanto, albeit Walmart is a retailer while Monsanto is a GMO, bovine growth hormone and poison manufacturer.

Both corporations engage in harmful business practices driven by greed that harm workers, the environment, and citizens worldwide.

Because you care about the health of your fellow citizens, environmental protection, the economic strength of your hometown, homegrown businesses, and the plight of Walmart workers, you’ll of course do whatever you can do decrease Walmart profits and to prevent Walmart from invading your town.

And by the way, after years of battling, the beleaguered good people of Tarpon Springs, Florida have at least temporarily halted Walmart’s plans to destroy the last stretch of Gulf Coast wilderness along the Anclote River.

But who knows how long their victory will stand? Walmart retains ownership of the land, and has refused to say it will never bulldoze it. The fight goes on.

When you’re defending your family, country and planet against multinational corporations like Walmart and Monsanto, you’re always on alert.

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Last modified on Monday, 02 July 2012 13:55

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