Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

'Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price' is a documentary by Robert Greenwald about the market dominating global corporation that subverts towns across America by extracting government subsidies to establish themselves when other local family-owned businesses do not and muscling them out of business through price under-cutting brought about by the importation of slave-labour goods from China. This combined with highly agressive Anti-Union tactics to exploit its own workers in America by forcing them into overtime and not paying them and suggesting that they will be fired for fighting for a fair wage and working conditions - which they are.

The film documents various towns around America that had numerous small family-run businesses who were forced to close down when Wal-Mart came and the reprecussions on their lives and the townsfolk as shops closed down and main streets became ghost towns.

As a flip-side to the conditions in America, the documentary interviews European workers who are free to set up Unions and are not exploited like their American counterparts and have no qualms about their working conditions. However, it also shows the predicament in the Chinese sweatshops where workers are almost forced to live within a commune as rent is taken out of their pay whether they live there or not and the state of these buildings is atrocious.

Whilst the documentary itself is fascinating, the style and production is lacking and at times it comes across as amateur. Nevertheless this is a serious documentary not a blockbuster so one can overlook this minor shortcoming. If you are interested in these types of films, I highly recommend another work of Greenwald - the excellent documentary 'Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism' about the absolute bias with which Fox News operates in it's pro-Republican/Conservative and anti-Liberal marketing.

I would give this film 7 anti-business global corporations out of 10.



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