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May 11, 2009 - 6:38pm

Do you complain about free trade and shop at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.?

posted by Howard B. Owens in economy, Wal-Mart, localism, free trade.

As a transplant to Western New York, my impression that WNY is a hotbed of anti-free-trade sentiment.

NAFTA is a dirty word in these parts.

Certainly, trade was a hot button issue in the 26th Congressional race last fall.

Yet, every time I drive past Wal-Mart or Target, or any of the other Big Boxes in Batavia, the parking lots are full.

I wonder how many people realize that Wal-Mart and its ilk are a bigger cause of good paying manufacturing jobs in the USA being shipped overseas than NAFTA?

Black and Decker, for example, started a process of closing factories in the U.S. in 2002 that lead over the next 24 months of 4,000 jobs lost. The tool maker was pressured by Home Depot and Lowes to lower prices and that could only happen by shifting manufacturing overseas. In 1990, Levi owned several factories in the U.S., which produced about 90 percent of the product sold under the brand. In an effort to meet the demands of Wal-Mart and Target for ever lower prices, Levi eventually shuttered all of it's U.S. plants and now out sources all of its manufacturing overseas. Twenty-five thousand people lost their jobs.

If you're anti-immigration, the next time you step into Wal-Mart, consider than some 40,000 jobs have been lost in Latin America since the mid-1990s as clothes making was shifted from those countries to China.

We all love low prices, but those prices come at a price (and Wal-Mart doesn't always have the lowest prices in town -- sometimes, the locally owned retailers meet or beat those prices).

I'm not sure we can reconcile being anti-free trade, and even anti-immigration, and do the majority of our shopping at big box stores.

Buying local keeps more local jobs in the local community and helps grow the local economy.  In current conditions, the big boxes can be unavoidable at times, but they should be a last resort.

Bea McManis
Bea McManis's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: May 4 2009 - 9:20pm
Andrew, that present government that you oppose didn't invent outsourcing. I recall President Bush's economic advisor saying in Feb, 2004: Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said Monday in a White House briefing on Bush's 2004 Economic Report that outsourcing of jobs by U.S. companies is something that is "probably a plus" for the economy in the long run. "Now, to get back to the question about outsourcing, I think outsourcing is a growing phenomenon, but it's something that we should realize is probably a plus for the economy in the long run," Mankiw said.
Mark Potwora
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Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm
Howard said .... Mark, now I don't know if the Town of Batavia provided any assistance to Target or Wal-Mart, Lowes or Home Depot to open here.If you don't know then your argument is for nothing...And i do oppose a local Business man getting not 200,000 dollars of government money but 3 million total to tear down one of his buildings..No job creation just alot of maybes..I do not believe The stores you mentioned got those kind of tax breaks to set up shop in the Town of Batavia....Is Walmart getting money to open in Stafford..Why would the Town of Batavia give WalMart a 2 million tax break...There is no town Tax..Your point is hard for me to understand...Those stores are creating jobs in the hundreds..Walmart is a huge corporation,You can move up in the company and make great money.. Howard says Those new businesses would have a huge multiplier effect, because unlike Wal-Mart, they would used local suppliers, hire local attorneys and accountants, the owners would shop at local stores, and to remain competitive in a dynamic local employment environment, they would pay higher wages and offer better benefits. What local suppliers are they going to go to buy these Name Brand item that we the public want to buy..Who says the local owners are going to shop at the other local owners stores..And Why don't they pay higher wages and offer better benefits now....There was just a letter to the editor last nite .A local contractor was upset because he was lock out of bidding on a project run by the GDEC .The contract was being run by a company outside the area..I know a few local business owners and they're attorneys and accountants are located in Rochester...You have a nice dream ..But people want a good value for their money..Bottom line..I think you keep talking up downtown Batavia because those stores sponsor this site...that is were all the revenue comes from..You are part of BID....
Andrew Erbell
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Last seen: 11 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2009 - 6:41pm
I'd be willing to bet all the former Pontillo's and Ognibene Ford Employees would be happy if their bosses followed ANY accountant's or attorney's advice, whether he/she be local or not.
Andrew Erbell
Andrew Erbell's picture
Last seen: 11 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jan 20 2009 - 6:41pm
Bea; I have no idea what you're talking about. I was referring to the Obama Administration taking over GM, nothing about outsourcing whatsoever. The Federal Government is now in the car business. What could possibly go wrong?
Howard B. Owens
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Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
I'm not sure the local businesses will share that data. I will tell you that my Dad owned a bakery for a couple of decades. His long-time employees made more than they could have made at Wal-Mart, had health benefits and had a profit sharing plan. His best employees were exceptionally loyal and remain close friends to both of my parents now that they're retired. Don't assume mom-and-pops don't pay as well as Wal-Mart. Many pay better and offer better benefits. I don't have enough knowledge to speak specifics on the local scale, but I know on a national basis, it's quite common. Mark, regarding who sponsors The Batavian, that's more than happenstance. It's by design. I don't even bother calling on chains. Yes, it's too hard to reach decision makers. Also, I'm just not interested in bringing those advertisers into the fold. As for most of them being with in the BID, well, that's where most of the independent economic activity in this county takes place. That's why I purposely made sure we had an office downtown. Again, not happenstance, but design. Gabor, tomorrow we sign a lease. We'll be full-fledged Batavians as of June 1. But regardless, this is where I've chosen to plant my economic flag. I've made a business commitment to Genesee County. It's what I'm committed to, so whether I've been able to move to Genesee County or not is rather beside the point ... either I make it with The Batavian or I wind up on the street, regardless of my physical address. But I've never hidden the fact of where I lived or what my intentions were.
Peter O'Brien
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Last seen: 4 years 5 months ago
Joined: Mar 4 2009 - 1:24pm
I'd like to point out that outsourcing (at least in my experience since I was only a kid) seemed to start in the 90's with moves to Mexico. Not under Bush 43
Gabor Deutsch
Gabor Deutsch's picture
Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: May 24 2008 - 4:16pm
Howard, I really shouldnt have made the move to Batavia remark anyways. I guess I just got fired up about this topic. I was talking smack, sorry.
Mary E DelPlato
Mary E DelPlato's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Jul 29 2008 - 4:50pm
This devastating condition we are in did not happen overnight. TI noticed the news after Bush Jr was elected. This company merged with that company, this company was laying off. Mergers mean job cuts.The government wont help us. The only ones who can save America now are the consumers. I try to buy as much USA products as possible. Even if I have to pay more. So, those comsumers who can afford to, please buy american or die america. And if the big higher paying people in the world trickled some of that money down, then more people would contribute to the economy. I also heard a statement from Obama that made me realize just how blind he is to this world. The real world. He said about credit cards that its not free money. What he doesnt understand is that some people held a job when they first got that credit card. Now that theyre unemployed and the interests rates go up they have no other choice but to only pay the important bills first and lag behind on everything else. When you live a lifestyle with a pay check of say 40,000 and you lose your job, you cannot keep that lifestyle any more. Not when your 40,000 is cut down to about 20,000. Seems like at all levels of government, they re wearing rose colored glasses. And clown noses.


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