A documentary entitled “Walmart – The High Cost of Low Prices” presaged several of those observations by Kenton in the video posted below. But what does that have to do with affordable housing and manufactured homes? Follow along and, step-by-step, you may see how the dots connect.
The stories in the video are gut-wrenching and tug at the heartstrings. Sometimes multi-generational businesses were forced out by Walmart. The big firm got tax incentives that smaller mom-and-pop businesses often could not obtain. Employees who once fared better working with smaller firms before they were forced out of business, found themselves having to work for Walmart. Per those workers, conditions working at the retail giant were often quite different than the giant firm’s heavily-advertised image projects.
The video above interviewed Walmart ex-managers, who revealed the inside look at how the firm operates. Current and ex-employees were interviewed too. Many were essentially forced to work some time off the clock, because not complying could cost them a much-needed job. Women and minorities often complained about unfair treatment too.
Before pivoting to the second and third part of the headline, let us first build out some additional data from third parties to support the Walmart Effect. Because as what follows will indicate, there are patterns of monopolization and economic harm at work that directly impact millions of people in and out of manufactured housing. What should become clear is that smaller firms routinely treat customers and employees better.
Kenton added to the above these bullets.
- The Walmart Effect is the effect that Walmart has been known to have on the communities in which it builds locations.
- The presence of a Walmart store can hurt the business of smaller companies and lower wages for local workers.
- Much of the Walmart Effect can be attributed to Walmart’s immense buying power.
- The Walmart Effect can also affect suppliers, who must drive their production costs down in order to afford to sell to Walmart.
- Although the term was used in the 90s, “Walmart Effect” became ubiquitous with the release of a Charles Fishman book by the same name.
Per the Atlantic “But while Walmart provides plenty of jobs, it squeezes both its employees and suppliers to the extremes,” said that publication on April 11, 2017.
Of course, Walmart points to research on their own website that claims differently.
But that is arguably part of the similarity between Walmart and some of the vexing issues in manufactured housing. Manufactured housing is a fine option, so long as someone deals with the right firm. See the report linked here to learn more. That said, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) gives “research” claims too, but they often restrict those details of those studies to a members- only view. Also, as MHLivingNews and MHProNews have documented, a close look at some of MHI’s own members’ statements debunk the claims the trade group has made. Says who? Samuel Strommen with Knudson Law, among others. Given the opportunity to respond to Strommen’s heavily-documented charges, MHI and their dominating brands stayed silent. It is a sad fact that many of the most troubling news reports trace back to the same companies, and they are routinely MHI-member companies. But the good news is, when someone learns which firms to avoid, the sailing often becomes much smoother.
So arguably misleading or ‘weaponized’ research is one concern that should be kept in mind with Walmart and MHI. That noted, back to the Walmart related for a few minutes.
Green America says “The Wal-Mart economy is the opposite of sustainable. There can be no place in a sustainable economy for a corporation like today’s Wal-Mart that advances a business model riddled with negative repurcussions—from its low-wage, environmentally destructive factories in developing countries, to shuttered local businesses all across America.” That story of shuttered businesses is dealt with in the video above.
The following bullets are all pull-quotes from Green America. Note the typo above is in the original.
- Until Wal-Mart, the trend in the American marketplace had been to increasingly internalize the costs of doing business, from paying decent wages and offering health-care benefits, to limiting the work-week to 40 hours, to curbing environmental impact. While the job of internalizing business costs was nowhere near complete, the trend was in the right direction.
- In its relentless pursuit of ever-cheaper products and ever-larger market shares, Wal-Mart reverses that trend. Wal-Mart externalizes its costs any way it can—by pushing its health-care costs onto local communities, for example, or by soliciting taxpayer dollars to subsidize its sprawl.
- The problems with Wal-Mart begin with its supply chain, where many of the workers who make its products pay the price for low-cost items by toiling in sweatshop conditions.”
- Chinese workers filed a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart last September, alleging a range of sweatshop abuses, including “forced overtime, payment below the minimum wage, and [denial of] full overtime pay, holidays off, weekly days off, or daily rest periods.” The sweatshop problem, however, is not limited to one country. The Chinese plaintiffs were joined by plaintiffs from other countries, including the US, all alleging the same thing—that Wal-Mart ignores its own “standards for suppliers” and tolerates abuse of workers in its supply chain.
- “As the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart has the power to set higher [labor] standards within the industry,” says Maquila Solidarity Network president Ian Thompson. “Instead, it continuously pressures its suppliers to produce cheaper and quicker, encouraging sweatshop abuses.”
EPI.org (Economic Policy Institute) reported that “Wal-Mart’s growing trade deficit with China has displaced more than 400,000 U.S. jobs.”
EPI made the point very simple to understand.
“Exports support jobs in the United States, and imports displace them.” So, “China trade” means “U.S. job loss.”
Senator Bernie Sanders’ Multi-Year Stance
This is an issue that has had voices across the left-and-right calling for reforms and law enforcement. An example from the political left is self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (VT).
Citing a report on left-leaning Vox, EPI said in 2015 that Sanders’ view at the time on open borders and hiring illegal labor was correct. “Vox.com editor Ezra Klein brought up the concept of an “open borders” immigration policy. Sanders rejected the notion—open borders and unlimited immigration, of course, being a position that no elected official supports. Sanders went on to point out—a point which he later reiterated to journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce—that in some cases the importation of new foreign workers can negatively impact the wages of workers in the United States.”
This is simple supply and demand. More illegals in the U.S. depress the demand for American and legal immigrant employees.
Ironically, Hispanics along the Texas-Mexican border seemed to understand this well in the 2020 election cycle. They often voted in favor of President Trump, because of his border wall and anti-illegal immigration policies, while allowing legal immigration for qualified people who follow the law. As the San Antonio Express News said, Zapata County, a “border county in South Texas...”flip[ped] red in the presidential election.” KSAT news said that a border county with a “96% Latino population” “brings in more Republican votes during 2020 election.” While it stayed blue, it did so only by a narrow margin. Minorities often understand that illegals undercut the wage-earning potential of legal citizens of all nationalities.
Said EPI about Sanders at that time, “he’s against expanding U.S. temporary foreign worker programs, which allow employers to exploit and underpay so-called guestworkers. Limiting guestworker programs will reduce wage suppression and improve labor standards for U.S. and migrant workers alike.” Bingo.
That said, since then Senator Sanders – per left-leaning BuzzFeed News- ““He Has Made Wild Shifts” when he later abandoned the logic of his own prior thinking to run in 2020. They quoted Sanders in 2007 saying:
· “I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent. Our border is very porous.”
· “And I think at a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over in a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers.”
· Sanders, per BuzzFeed added that hiring those in the U.S. illegally is “making it harder for US citizens to find jobs.”
That is all obvious to those thinking objectively.
While President Trump and Sanders seemed to come from entirely different viewpoints on several issues, on immigration and trade, they held similar views in the 2016 election cycle. As left-leaning NPR put it in on August 24, 2017, “1 In 10 Bernie Sanders Supporters Ended Up Voting For Trump,” adding “Yes, Bernie Sanders supporters who voted for President Trump could have cost Hillary Clinton the election.”
Sympathy for Illegal Border Crossers…
Sure, it is easy to have sympathy for those who cross into the U.S. illegally seeking a better life.
But the harmful consequences of those open-border policies and visa overstays are many. While the majority of those who come may well be willing to work honestly, a percentage coming are criminals like those in the violent MS-13 gangs. Per CIS.org: “Over a 10-year period (2005-2014) ICE arrested approximately 4000 MS-13 members, leaders, and associates.” GovInfo.gov said that “Reports have indicated that 60 percent of California’s 18th Street Gang are illegal aliens.” It bears mention that every death at the hands of an illegal immigrant is a death that could have been avoided. Indeed, every accident, every crime that was caused by an “undocumented” or “illegal” person working in the U.S. was – by definition – avoidable.
When the big business focused U.S. Chamber of Commerce de facto favors allowing a sizable flow of immigrants into the country, it should be obvious that they do so because they think it is good for their big business members.
“We commend President Biden for taking action…” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue on February 2, 2021 about his policy shifts on the southern border that most Americans, per surveys, oppose. While the Chamber and others frame that as keeping families together, the obvious solution to that is to keep them together in their home countries. The Chamber formally opposed efforts to curb immigration into the country. While they call the system “broken,” what they fail to say is who broke the system? And who benefits from breaking the system and the law?
The primary job of a good government that is as free of corruption as possible is to protect the rights of citizens.
When big businesses press for policies, directly and/or subtly, that undermines the rights of millions of everyday Americans, that’s a problem that lawmakers and public officials should be addressing.
What Leftist Politico Noted…
Something as simple as enforcing E-Verify and not giving benefits or incentives for illegals to come or stay in the U.S. could bring about a peaceful exodus of millions. “E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States,” says e-verify.gov. But a lack of political will has kept that from occurring.
Left-leaning Politico has a reminder that E-Verify was born in the Obama-Biden Administration. “Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks during a news conference to announce the launch of E-Verify Self Check service March 21, 2011.” That same source said, “Politicians of all stripes have rallied around the federal government’s E-Verify system as a low cost and effective way to keep undocumented immigrants out of the United States.”
But sometimes words and deeds do not match up.
That article continues, “E-Verify is a database system that checks identities of newly hired workers against government records. Employers are supposed to fire new employees if the system flags them as being in the United States illegally. In this way, the program is supposed to turn off the jobs magnet that attracts undocumented immigrants in the first place. Proponents of the system believe that without the jobs magnet, illegal immigration would stop.”
“E-Verify’s theoretical simplicity is one reason why it was initially so popular in some southern states and Arizona. If a quick computer check could accurately tell whether a worker is an undocumented immigrant then workplace raids, mass roundups of undocumented immigrants and a massive deportation force becomes unnecessary. Most would just self-deport, in the famous words of Sen. Mitt Romney, while he was a presidential candidate in 2012.”
But the problem is that the program is not being properly enforced, said Politico. It mentioned that in Arizona, E-Verify implementation caused this response. “Terrified by the prospect of an effective E-Verify program, about 17 percent of Arizona’s undocumented immigrant population left the state in response to its implementation.”
But looking the other way and figuring out how to game the E-Verify system became commonplace. “That’s the theory anyway. In reality, three groups of people—workers, companies and even the politicians who trumpet it—have come together to ensure that E-Verify remains completely powerless.” That article added: “But the exodus [of illegals from AZ] slowed after E-Verify went into effect because workers and businesses figured out how to get around it.”
Put differently, if the E-Verify law was to be properly and universally enforced, it has already proven its ability to work.
Some believe that there are about 20 million undocumented or illegal border-crossers and visa overstays living in the U.S., with estimates ranging from 11 million to over 26 million. If just 17 percent left the U.S. due to E-Verify, that would be 3.4 million voluntary departures.
But the likelihood is that it would be higher. Why? Because if E-Verify became national and was seriously enforced, then it wouldn’t be a scenario like AZ experienced, with some going to another state that didn’t plan to enforce the law. It is uniform law enforcement that makes a potentially good law work. Hold that thought.
The evidence thus suggests that Sanders’ old position was the correct one.
Almost all of the benefit for having millions in the U.S. illegally goes to bigger businesses. The harm goes to U.S. workers or would-be employees. The evidence is that the big-business focused U.S. Chamber de-facto favors the open borders policy, even though it frames it in different words, as was noted above. Note that Dr. Richard Rahn, formerly with the U.S. Chamber, has made similar observations about the big business tilt of the group.
Ironically, when pondering the growing affordable housing crisis, that could be ended almost overnight if suddenly millions of those living here illegally suddenly went back to their place of national origin. If millions went ‘home,’ wages in the U.S. would rise too. That is simple supply and demand. The proof was in the Trump years, as a combination of tax cuts and other incentives sparked a demand for more workers and thus higher earnings. CNN, hardly a pro-Trump outlet, made that point with the graphic below. While they frame wages as being being stagnant, largely true, they ought to have focused on the causes and the cures too. The Trump administration policies worked.
Something as simple as enforcing existing laws – such as seriously enforcing E-Verify could make that possible.
Put differently, there is no need to wait for new legislation. Law enforcement can begin immediately.
- America should be buying products made in the U.S.A.
- Tariffs should protect American businesses, which is how the federal government used to fund the bulk of federal spending before the income tax became law.
- Big corporations that buy foreign made products, especially those from communist countries like China, are thereby ducking American labor laws, environmental laws, and are causing a cascade effect of other direct and indirect costs and harms. The Walmart documentary above makes that point in several ways, citing the facts at the time.
- As the Walmart video above said, the retail giant has been accused of hiring those illegally in the U.S. . It was not so long ago that those on the left, people like Bernie Sanders, used to say it was important to stop illegal immigration and to curb legal immigration too.
There is one more set of factors that have to be considered. While the dynamics have unique wrinkles, what is occurring in manufactured housing is a different type of pressure being placed on smaller businesses in our industry.
The Biden-Harris policies and threats of tax hikes, and new regulations would disproportionately harm smaller firms that routinely treat their residents and customers well. Says who? Ironically, MHI member Sun Communities CEO Gary Shiffman.
While there may be some benefit to certain types of new legislation, when MHI is backing a bill that should by itself be a red-flag to manufactured home community residents.
Furthermore, the fact that good laws already on the books are being routinely ignored is reason enough to doubt or be skeptical if they will have the desired effects. When laws are being circumvented or ignored – which happens to benefit big businesses in our industry – doesn’t that speak volumes?
While it is understandable that some were uncomfortable with President Trump’s counterpunching style or rhetoric, it should be abundantly clear from the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris era that several things are already going quite wrong in America that were previously improving.
- Prices are rising, because of artificially inflating the money supply. Put differently, ‘printing’ more money devalues existing money.
- That harms savings, especially those of seniors and others on a fixed income.
- Rising costs for gas and other staples will disproportionately fall on those with a lower income.
There are several examples of how big businesses in America – and the politicians and bureaucrats that they seem to own – are near the heart of many of our national woes. It is not socialist to say so. The free market is being undermined by supposed capitalists who are getting more government benefits than smaller firms do.
Public officials are trying to essentially bribe citizens/voters with borrowed money. But there will, in time, be clear evidence that this pattern is harmful. The bullets above are the early examples.
At MHLivingNews, we may say things that are politically incorrect, but we do so based upon evidence, facts, and applied common sense. We will not knowingly mislead you. When we goofed, we told our readers, which is how good journalism is supposed to work.
The facts and evidence may not always seem to be politically correct. But stop and ask, why are big businesses pushing for policies, unless they think it will benefit themselves?
Understanding the basics of what has been going wrong for years is a vital first step to fixing our nation’s ills. Otherwise, we as citizens will be chasing the same problems ten years from now.
Last but not least. As longtime readers of this site or our MHProNews sister site know, we routinely source legitimate insights from across the left-right divide. These are not partisan ideas as much as they are pragmatic principles that are proven to work when they are put to work.
It would be great if a 300-word article could explain everything. Actually, we could boil it down to a few pull-quotes, but without evidence those pull quotes do not prove anything.
It takes time and evidence to explain the modern reality. Decades of corrupt practices in Washington and places closer to home have put us in the current dilemmas. It is only by truly understanding the cause and effect that solutions will be made clear. What Walmart and firms like them are doing is apparently creating a new feudalistic society. It is a slow, but steady process. That is why such corporate giants need to be broken up under antitrust laws. They should not get benefits that smaller firms can’t access.
It is worth noting that some in mainstream media, who previously railed against the type of reports that MHLivingNews and our MHProNews sister site reported on, are now being proven incorrect over a year later. Rephrased. we were proven correct when some media giants were proven wrong. That is an example of this point, worth stressing. We do not publish items that we think will be debunked later. We publish what the evidence supports. That is a proven formula for trustworthy reporting and analysis.
Following understanding, enforcing good existing laws, and putting the interest of American citizens first are vital steps to getting America back to it’s true potential.
The video below is by a pair of Canadian brothers. It reviews some thought-provoking ideas. They see the issues at play to be well beyond North America.
See the related reports to learn more. Because the Walmart effect is the big business effect. The big business of our industry, the so-called predatory businesses that are often members of MHI – those are the enemy of affordable housing and a better way of life. They should be properly investigated and held to account.
That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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