Friday, April 07, 2006

Wal-Mart Determines Port Security

Why are U.S. ports so poorly protected nearly five years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? Because Wal-Mart puts commercial interests ahead of security according to John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO.
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.

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.
It's worth noting that Wal-Mart can't argue the cost of implementing these security safeguards is prohibitive.
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?


mikevotes said...

I saw a smaller version of this on a newscast.

I found it especially interesting when coupled with Walmart's position on the immigration issue, that they should be able to hire all the illegals they want and that there should be no substantial increases in border security.

I've been meaning to blog this myself but you got right to the heart of it. Does Walmart place their profits above your life?


Stephen said...

Just wanted to say i enjoyed your post. I am an ex-finance major and have followed wal-mart closely since the mid-nineties. What a strange phenomenon.
It's strange to see how many people just don't get it. While this company runs our country and effects the policy in so many ways, consumers continue to find comfort in the "everyday low prices" not realising that those "low prices" are the reason they will most likely never earn enough to shop anywhere else.

I guess for Wal-mart, thats the point! It's just mind blowing!

abi said...

Who's running this country - Wal-Mart or Congress?

The answer - yes. Wal-Mart and other self-interested corporations spend megabucks lobbying congress, and congress naturally does their bidding.

That's why we need real, fundamental change in lobbying and campaign financing. That's why corporations should not enjoy the same rights as individuals.

I know I sound like a broken record. But we'll never have real change in this country until we take money out of politics.

Rory Shock said...

well, that's an excellent rhetorical question ... guess the ceo's figure it ain't gonna be them in their estates backin arkansas that get hit ...

Ron Nasty said...

WalMart and the US government are running this country. Right in to the ground.

Kathy said...

Steve, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I don't have a beef with the people who shop at Wal-Mart because they have to stretch every dollar, but I wish they would all band together and speak up for better wages and benefits.

Kathy said...

You have a good point there, Ron. Wal-Mart is aided and abetted by the people in Washington.