From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/16-4
by John Atcheson
Published on Friday, December 16, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
If you want to know why the middle class disappeared and where they went, look no further than your local Walmart. People walked in for the low prices, and walked out with a pile of cheap stuff, but in a figurative sense, they left their wages, jobs, and dignity on the cutting room floor of the House of Cheap.
Welcome to the logical end point of Reagonomics. Welcome to Ayn Rand’s nightmare vision of morality, where we know the price of everything but the value of nothing; where predatory behavior is celebrated and the notion of community is blasphemy.
In his excellent documentary, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, Robert Greenwald carefully documents how Walmart’s giant box stores lower wages across the entire retail sector, impose high social and economic costs on the states and communities in which they operate, and destroy local businesses.
Yet the low prices – which come at such a high cost – are irresistible to American consumers. Walmart has virtually cornered the retail market and amassed astounding wealth in the process.
But it’s not just Walmart. Big box stores now rule across the board in the US retail economy in everything from electronics to pet supplies. And it’s not just retail. The entire US economy is now organized around the notion that getting us cheap stuff – the more the better – is the sine qua non of economic policy.
There was a time when corporations understood that paying their employees a living wage had economic and societal benefits. Henry Ford famously said he wanted his employees to be able to afford to buy the cars they made and launched six decades of prosperity.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/16-4