Sunday, October 7, 2007

SEPTEMBER BOOKS PART III

I decided that my final September book deserves its own post too, and I am getting up on my soapbox to discuss it. Our book club selection for September, it was written by North Dakota's junior senator, Byron Dorgan. I don't think I have ever gotten political in this blog, but there's a time for everything.

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" Take This Job And Ship It" should be read by every single American man and woman. It's that powerful. I don't know that I have ever said about a book that it changed my life, but this one already has and will continue to do so.


After reading this book, I finally understand why a senator from my state was against NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Americans may have free trade, Dorgan says, but he insists that we don't have FAIR trade. I learned so much about our huge trade deficit (it increases by $2 billion a day), about companies taking good jobs from Americans and outsourcing them to other countries, about corporations so greedy that they locate subsidiaries in countries where they find tax shelters. Did you know that such venerable American companies as Fruit of the Loom, Fig Newton and Radio Flyer have gone overseas? Did you know that we lost three million jobs in five years?
I understand why Dorgan is anti pharmaceutical industry and pro-union. and why he praises the economic theories of Warren Buffet. But most of all, I understand that the baddest of all the bad big box stores is Wal Mart. Here's where I step on that soap box.
I will never shop at a Wal Mart again. My friend Jude kept trying to tell us book club members about Wal Mart, but I never got her point. I get it now. Wal Mart is so large and powerful that it can force manufacturers to lower their prices. Because of this, they take their manufacturing plants to places like Mexico or China, where they can find cheap labor.
Wal Mart, in turn, acts like it's doing Americans a favor by offering them low-priced goods. My friends, Wal Mart is doing you no favor. It has taken good, solid, well-paying jobs out of your communities. One example Dorgan used is that of the closing of a certain American plant. On the last day, each worker left a pair of his or her shoes in the parking lot. Their message: "You will never be able to fill our shoes."
Although unions may have shady pasts, they built America. They got us fair wages and safe working conditions (remember the young girls in the woolen mills on the Eastern Seaboard in the 1800s?). Workers at a Canadian Wal Mart tried to form a union, and Wal Mart shut down the entire store.
Wal Mart has led to the deaths of Main Street businesses as well. A very good example is Williston, North Dakota. When Wal Mart opened at the edge of town it was the death knell for Williston's downtown. First the Woolworth's went, then Ben Franklin. Pretty soon, people couldn't seem to find a reason to go downtown anymore. The cafes closed, then other businesses. There is a definite ripple effect when a Wal Mart comes to town.
As well, Wal Mart is offering you goods made in sweat shops, hellholes that work people - children even - literally to death, for just pennies a day. Low-income people look to Wal Mart as their savior. But, says Dorgan, picture this: A woman is standing in line with her two daughters, proud that she can afford to buy her girls the colorful t-shirts she has in her hands. But what if someone came up and grabbed her daughters and put them to work at a slave-labor factory, starving and mistreating them? No, it's not her daughters being forced to do that, but it's some woman's daughters.
Wal Mart is ruining our standard of living, destroying American prosperity and dooming the American working middle class. Soon we will all be either rich or poor. And I know I won't be one of the rich.
As I said, this book has changed my life. I will try to look for the Made in America label, although it will be difficult to find. I buy a lot of clothes at resale already so at least I won't be directly contributing to the demise of American clothing manufacturers.
If I can afford an item only at the Wal Mart price, I'll wait until I have the extra dollars to buy it somewhere else, or do without it entirely.
If I need a pretty trinket, I don't have to buy something new made in China. I can always go to a thrift shop, flea market or antique shop, knowing that what I purchase was either made in America or that I, again, did not contribute directly to a company's death.
I note, sadly, that although Dorgan's book was a New York Times bestseller, it hasn't made much of an impact. I know for certain we will end up with a Democratic Congress after the next election. Hopefully, Dorgan can then do something about those "brain dead politics." At the end of the book, he offers specific solutions to each of the problems he outlines in the book.
I am proud of Senator Dorgan for taking up the challenge of writing this book that needed to be written. He is one elected representative who gives a damn.
By the way, I am also proud of our other North Dakota Congressmen. Our senior senator, Kent Conrad (below) was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 best senators. Not bad for a sparsely-populated, backward state, eh?


And our lone representative to Congress, Earl Pomery (below), made news a couple of months ago when caught on video phone calling President Bush a "clown". Yes, I'm proud of that. Bush is a clown. Let's not beat around the Bush about. He is an embarrassment to our country, an incompetent, bumbling fool, and much worse, a danger to our country.

North Dakota, a redder-than-red Republican state, consistently re-elects these Democrats. They must be proud of them too.

Well now you know my political leanings, for better or worse. It's time for me to get off my soapbox. It's not a comfortable place for this girl to be. But sometimes a girl's just gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

11 comments:

Kristen said...

I don't shop at Walmart anymore for different reasons. In Thomas L. Friedman's The World is Flat, the author describes how Walmart makes it extremely difficult for workers to afford healthcare. Although this book is actually pro-globalization and pro-outsourcing, I highly recommend it.

Rowan said...

This is a well written and thought-provoking post, I already knew that Wal-Mart isn't as philanthropic as it purports to be, they have a toe-hold in UK now too. The large supermarkets are all greedy and corporate-driven organizations who are resposible for the disappearance of many small, local businesses and also for the low prices for farm goods that are making it impossible for small farmers, especially dairy, to survive. As for George Bush - I can only say that I think Earl Pomery has it about right.

Sheila said...

Sometimes we have to get on a soapbox and say what we think. I do occasionally shop at WalMart, but I agree that when they open in a town, so often the smaller retailers suffer.
I always try to find goods with a made in Canada label, and since all the bad press that Chinese made goods have received I think a lot more people will too.
I'm referring to the recall of all the high end name brand children's toys, made in China that were made with LEAD based paint.

Autumn Zephyr said...

I call Walmart "The Evil Empire". They have destroyed Mom and Pop Main Street USA.

My mother works for Walmart. And has for 12 years. She is up to $9 an hour. 12 years.

I use local shops as often as possible. Foodland for my groceries, Dollar General for my sundries. A locally owned liquor store for my wine.

Gemma said...

Enjoyed all of your book reviews Julie. Politically we are on the same page.

lila said...

I live in the same neck of the woods were Walmart began and where it is headquartered. Many of the people I know work in the corporate office. ( There is not a lot of choice!) It is sad. Walmart has given a lot to our community...art center, botanical garden, you name it...but only after explointing the rest of the planet! I might shop at Walmart here once/year, we do have alternatives!!!!....when on interstate road trips, I sometimes stop to walk through a Walmart store....as they are always on the edge of town, and you know exactly what you will find inside...safe for a cautious woman traveling alone...
We have a crazy world based on BUY, BUY, BUY....so much that we don't need! It ends up in landfils and takes eons to biodegrade...(I'm glad I left my retail job!)
Thanks for the book review, Julie!

Beth said...

I love your blog, read it daily. And I loved this post. I don't shop Walmart, either.
Another thing to consider is Barnes and Noble, along with Borders bookstores. They, too, have caused the demise of thousands of independent shops, and even control the publishing industry. New writers have a tough time anyway without having to run B&N's approval gauntlet. My best friend worked for them for years and I hate to say what B&N deliberately did to the smaller bookstores to get them to close. It was really sad.
I'm glad you spoke up! Thanks.

judie said...

I don't shop Walmart either. But somebody must be, because they keep growing! And they are not the only one's who have brought small businesses down. Home Depot for example. Most local hardware stores are gone. Locksmiths, garden shops, tile companies, etc. HD does it ALL. Sad, but that's commerce. And real estate...do you know how many large buildings and corporations in USA are Japanese and Chinese owned? OK, I'll stop here. There's no room on the soap box. LOL GREAT POST!!!!!

Myrna said...

You make some good points!

I've been looking around your blog and getting to know you. You certainly don't shy away from saying what is on your mind!

Oh, BTW, I read Dakota Born and had the same concern--the one room school house. Being a retired educator I was more than a little concerned about the image of a person who was not trained as a teacher being able to step in and teach ALL the subjects in a high school And of course at the same time our intrepid heroine was able to:
• putting on a Broadway level play • championing the cause of college bound, scholarship level art student--who by the way received full ride scholarships to 2 top schools although he had not training :-)
• finding long lost relatives
• doing a makeover on an old house
• making friends with all the people in town
• carrying on a romance with the town's confirmed bachelor
• pretty much single-handedly saving the town from sure destruction!
Did I leave anything out?!
Strangely I will still read Debbie McComber books because erveryone needs to escape reality once in awhile! lol

ANYWAY
I really came over to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I got my Halloween Swap goodies today. How cute! You really went all out! I have posted about my box of treats today. Thank you!!

Janet said...

Good for you! I quit shopping at Wal-mart quite some time ago and refuse to give them any of my money. These huge stores are making it so difficult for all the smaller businesses and I hate that. The big stores don't care about their customers....they just care about the bottom line.

I whole-heartedly agree with Earl Pomery!!

Mary said...

Just catching up Julie - agree with all you said and am also trying to stay away from Wal-Mart because I know how this corporation is ruining America and now trying to get a toe hold in other countries.
We MUST support the independents and small family businesses, they made this country great. We are being held responsible for the ruination of retail throughout the globe - we are disliked, laughed at, and Bush is taking us down!
Thanks for sharing this with us.