The company, through its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, has time and again since 9/11 opposed new port and supply-chain security rules that might cut into Wal-Mart's record profits. Its mantra is: "Security requirements should not become a barrier to trade.It's worth noting that Wal-Mart can't argue the cost of implementing these security safeguards is prohibitive.
In the past few years, Wal-Mart has:
Opposed the introduction of anti-terrorist "smart containers" and electronic seals for cargo containers coming into U.S. ports. The retail industry called them "feel good (security) measures."
Opposed independent and regular inspections of supply-chain security practices around the world.
Opposed tougher rules requiring Wal-Mart to let Customs know what it's shipping in and where it comes from.
Opposed new container-handling fees to pay for improved port security.
One of the United States' top port security experts, retired Coast Guard Cmdr. Stephen Flynn, puts the cost of helping protect our ports at 0.2 percent of the value of cargo in the containers. The cost to Wal-Mart would be about $36 million -- less than one-third of 1 percent of the $11.2 billion profit the company raked in last year, or several million dollars less than CEO Lee Scott's pay over the past two years.Wal-Mart believes making cargo containers secure should be voluntary. As Sweeney puts it, "The essence of this policy is "trust, but don't verify" and that's just the way Wal-Mart and RILA want to keep it."
Yeah, right. Trust, but don't verify. Nearly two-thirds of all Wal-Mart products come from China, and "the rest comes from 70 other countries, including Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia, where there's a dangerous cocktail of workers' rights abuses and lax enforcement, official corruption and active terrorist organizations."
Wal-Mart and its corporate lobbyists have instead invested heavily in the members of Congress with the most sway over ports and supply-chain security issues, as well as the Bush administration and the Republican National Committee.This leads me to ask a question: Who's running this country - Wal-Mart or Congress?