Walmart: Prices to die for

It was only a few days ago, that I wrote to our local newspaper about Walmart.  A local row has erupted over plans for their wholly owned subsidiary Asda to open a store in the town of Cinderford.

In my letter, I described how Walmart lobbies the US government to prevent the introduction of a minimum wage and that living wages are enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

What I didn’t tell the newspaper about , for the sake of brevity,  was of  the fast that our founder Terry Hallman began in 2003 for the US to ratify this convenant and how I’d been the line of communcation between him and his Senator, John Edwards.

Edwards opended the Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity on the campus at UNC, where P-CED began in 1997,  about a year after I offered Terry the exit strategy of helping me create a social business model in the UK. ICESCR was written into our business plan.

It made a key point:

“Capitalism is the most powerful economic engine ever devised, yet it came up short with its classical, inherent profit-motive as being presumed to be the driving force. Under that presumption, all is good in the name of profit became the prevailing winds of international economies — thereby giving carte blanche to the notion that greed is good because it is what has driven capitalism. The 1996 paper merely took exception with the assumption that personal profit, greed, and the desire to amass as much money and property on a personal level as possible are inherent and therefore necessary aspects of any capitalist endeavour. While it is in fact very normal for that to be the case, it simply does not follow that it must be the case.”

It was just this morning that I read the petition to from a lady who worked in a Bangladesh factory which manufacture clothing for Walmart and others.  63 of her colleagues had burned to death and she was among 150 injured.

Last week in an online conversation about the purpose of business, I was introduced to an article I’d read some months earlier.  The Next Big Thing was an article by Umair Haque,  author of The New Capitalism Manifesto, describing a vision of business in which embedded empathy, conciousness, compassion and love.

As it turned out, my correspondent was a consultant who has Havas Media Labs as a client. Haque works for Havas who had recommended the article to him.  In the New Capitalism Manifesto, Walmart is cited as one of the leading examples of 21st century capitalism.

Could we be seeing a chain of  commerical loyalty?

In the article I’d written a few months ago, on Putting Love and Compassion into Business, I related how it ended up with the death of my colleague in his efforts to place children in loving family homes.

Ironically the same consultant had asked others almost two years ago, why nobody listened to what I was saying.

Perhaps they really do?


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