Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What Century IS This?

Jesus! Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?

We might as well be back in the 19th century when children were used as little human tools who could get into the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of large industrial machinery or the depths of coal mines. Back then, children worked 12-16 hour days risking exhaustion, amputation, and even death.

But, like the song says, "Everything old is new again" as Wal-Mart -- in its never ending effort to increase profits at ANY price -- exploits America's children WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT!

OK, to be fair, the Department DID agree to investigate Wal-Mart stores who might be hiring employees under 18, but only after giving 15 days' notice. Hell, that's enough time to get those kids back in school and earn a credit or two before anyone realizes they were operating dangerous machinery.

And what did the Labor Department get in return for this accomodation to Wal-Mart?

NADA.

Just a century-long step backward to a time when people were prized below money and children even less.

OK, Wal-Mart did agree to pay a fine of $135,540 which would buy about a third of a house in a Seattle suburb. WOW! They MUST be feeling the pain.

And the latest development from Wal-Mart: their relationship with shoppers has officially turned into an all-out attack. Decades ago, politics joined with Madison Avenue to wage slick ad campaigns and now politics is returning the favor: Wal-Mart has created a campaign-style "War Room" where they can wage guerilla-type battles against consumers to squeeze the last red cent out of them.

If corporations have karma, there's a full-out Armageddon awaiting the folks from Bentonville in the afterlife. They continually beg the question, "How low can you go?"

I also want to note: for those of us who bitch about how the mainstream media ignores the exploitive practices of evil corporations, the New York Times has not been letting Wal-Mart off the hook. Keep up the good work, Steven Greenhouse!

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