Economic Strip Mining - Wal-Mart Style
Veni, Vidi, Vici, "I came, I saw, I conquered", so said Julius Caesar in his ultimate conquest . The coal companies could easily say the same. They came, plundered the Appalachians of its resources both human and natural, and then left an impoverished populace with black lung disease, polluted rivers, poverty, and unemployment. Yes, it seemed good in some ways while it lasted, but it did not last. The mine owners got what they wanted, forgot about those who made their fortunes possible, and then left their workers to their own fate. After all, they had financially taken "all the risks", and everyone else should be grateful for what they received.
So also is the case with Wal-Mart. The largest company in many individual states, and one of the largest in the nation, they avoided the urban areas and established their enterprises in rural regions. In so doing, they disturbed the existing business community, causing many to quickly face bankruptcy in face of the competition with a multi-billion dollar enterprise. After all, Wal-Mart could offer cheaper prices, greater product variety, hire local workers, and "stimulate" the local economy, at least for the short term.
But then came the possibility of even greater profits among even poorer peoples. The numbers were there in terms of larger sales possibilities, lower wage scales, less environmental complications, in short, greater return on investment. Since profit not people is the name of the game, the decision was easy, close over a hundred of their existing rural U. S. stores and invest in newer foreign endeavors. Those who had now become dependent on Wal-Mart for essentials from gas and furniture, to milk and baby food, would have to travel miles for such basics since local stores had been liquidated years ago.
Veni, Vidii, Vici, the Waltons had come, done their thing, and left their customers and employees in a worse condition than ever before. Jobs were lost, businesses had long ago been lost, and communities permanently disrupted. Economic strip mining had occurred. Wal-Mart could claim that its savings allowed them now to pay a minimal salary increase to some of their previously underpaid, non-unionized associates. The truth is that such minimal raises prevented the loss of their workforce to Target or other competitors. The Waltons had come and had conquered. What they left was devastation. Their former employees and their former customers did not have to discuss the long term effects of trickle-down economics. The trickle never came, and they were stuck with only the drought.