The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart's Everyday Low Prices is Hurting America
The story of Wal-mart has become the story of America. As one Wal-mart executive crowed, "Wal-mart is America." The lagest company - by far - in the world, Wal-mart has revenues in excess of 250 million dollars, 1.4 million American workers, 5000 stores. Over 138 million shoppers visit Wal-mart every year. And it opened another 55 discount stores, 210 super centres and 45 Sam's Club last year alone. With a 15% growth rate, they are a juggernaut that is reshaping the very essence of the American economy. But as we have become aware in the last year, there is a dark side to Wal-mart, one that Business Week senior reporter Tony Biance will fully reveal to us in the BULLY OF BENTONVILLE. Of Wal-mart's 1.4 million workers, 44% left the company in 2004. The reason - substandard wages, and a megre healthcare policy that most employees can't fford to be enrolled in. Wal-mart aggressively opens new stores across the country, claiming to bring in new business, and yet it invariably drives existing smaller businesses to close their doors, unable to compete with Wal-mart's prices. Thanks to Wal-mart's relentless cost-cutting, the cost of countless consumer goods has fallen dramatically in recent years, allowing more Americans to buy more goods and raise their standard of living. But Walmart's demands for low cost goods - and the very size of its market - - has forced the companies it does business with, from Procter and Gamble to Motorola to outsource their manufacturing and production facilities, driving jobs overseas. Nor is Wal-mart, in its continual pursuit of lower costs, above violating the law, as we've seen with the federal investigations into its hiring, through outside vendors, of illegal aliens.