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Friday, December 16, 2005

walmart movie

I took out this DVD because I liked director/producer Robert Greenwald's exposé of Rupert Murdoch's "War on Journalism" in the clever Outfoxed.

God, what a malevolent power Sam Walton's corner store wields. I had no idea. I thought they were a cosy bunch of hygienic-looking shop staff who went round hi-fiving cartoon characters and slashing prices so that impecunii like me could afford the occasional nosh and trinket.

This documentary has opened my eyes to the actual harm they do, and I'm going to play it to my girls and buy one for the library to spread the good word.

I assume some bias in all these things but *some* of it must be true and the statistics they dish up can't be totally cooked.

The special features are particularly good:

  • 20-min condensed version
  • An excellent section on how to organize resistance, thanks to the stalwart Al Norman and Sprawl-busters.
  • Appalling facts behind the crime rate in the car parks and Wal-Mart's penny-pinching refusal to do anything about adequate policing.
  • Greenwald's must-hear Director's commentary
  • Special supplements looking at Canada (where Wal-Mart got a bloody nose thanks to unionising Quebecois) and England's Upton Park market where ASDA is all too much in evidence.
  • Stirring and inspirational success stories from all over the States where ordinary citizens have taken on this pestilence and won.
  • Such as the $172M rap over the knuckles for clamping down on staff Lunch Breaks. What's particularly pleasing - and bodes well for the future - is the inclusion of punitive damages.

    But the overall picture is depressing - particularly the secretive council meetings where subsidies are rubber-stamped to the detriment of local stores who receive nothing.

    They clearly have no interest in anyone or anywhere - least of all their own staff, as chillingly revealed in the NY Times' outing of Wal-Mart's directorial proposals to hold down spending on health care and other benefits.

    The stalwart FastCompany puts the spotlight on the Wal-Mart you don't know as well as 'The Man Who said No to Wal-Mart' (Jan/Feb issue; link to follow), the story of plucky Jim Wier who wanted W-M to stop selling his Snapper mowers.

    Poulsbo Pillage: Nor can we NIMBYists sit clucking complacently for much longer: short of an Act of God, our very own Poulsbo is soon to embark on its own lunch-break starvation diet.

    For what it's worth, Walmart Watch looks good, as does the ever-feisty Huffington Post on the movie showing.

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