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Lance Armstrong, already punished for misdeeds he’d denied, took to television on Thursday to finally confess. But he didn’t apologize. He didn’t follow the redemption steps: admission and regret; a pledge to reform and a plea for forgiveness, then penance. Wal-Mart didn’t follow those steps either. Its CEO made national news last week when he announced the retail giant would hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years and buy $50 billion more in American-made products over the next 10. But Wal-Mart has never admitted wrongdoing or expressed remorse.

Oddly, the top international cyclist--€“ Lance Armstrong â-- and the top international retailer  -- €“Wal-Mart --€“ revealed last week that they have much in common.

No, not doping.

It'€™s their dopey concept of the atonement process.

Armstrong, already punished for misdeeds he'€™d denied, took to television on Thursday to finally confess. But he didn'€™t apologize. He didn'€™t follow the redemption steps: admission and regret; a pledge to reform and a plea for forgiveness, then penance. Wal-Mart didn'€™t follow those steps either. Its CEO made national news last week when he announced the retail giant would hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years and buy $50 billion more in American-made products over the next 10. But Wal-Mart has never admitted wrongdoing or expressed remorse.

More American manufacturing and more jobs are always good. Thank you, Wal-Mart.

But, like Armstrong'€™s admission, Wal-Mart'€™s announcement was met with skepticism because the retailer skipped atonement steps. Meaningless to the economy, The Atlantic wrote of the Wal-Mart promise. A public relations stunt, Time wrote.

Wal-Mart has much for which to atone. There is, for example, its leadership in blocking an effort to improve safety at factories in Bangladesh, where 112 workers would later die in a fire; its serial bribing of Mexican officials to circumvent regulations, and its snubbing of American warehouse laborers who are seeking better working conditions.

Let'€™s start in Bangladesh. There, Wal-Mart buys more than $1 billion in garments each year. The lure is the lowest garment factory wages in the world -- $37 a month. But that'€™s not enough. Wal-Mart -- and other garment purchasers --€“ demand such low prices from Bangladesh factories that managers cut costs in ways that endanger workers.

After two Bangladesh factory fires in 2010 killed 50 workers, labor leaders, manufacturers, government officials and retailers like Wal-Mart met in the Bangladesh capital. A New York Times investigation found that Wal-Mart was instrumental in blocking a plan proposed at that April 2011 meeting for Western retailers to finance fire safety improvements.

Just a little over 18 months later, 112 garment workers died in a horrific fire at the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh, where inspections repeatedly had revealed serious fire hazards. The New York Times found that during those 18 months, six Wal-Mart suppliers had used the Tazreen factory. In fact, in the two months before the fire, the Times found that 55 percent of Tazreen factory production was devoted to Wal-Mart suppliers.

A month after the fatal fire, a Wal-Mart executive promised the company would not buy garments from unsafe factories, but the giant retailer hasn'€™t offered any solution for improving conditions in Bangladesh factory fire traps, and a Wal-Mart executive has admitted the industry'€™s safety monitoring system is seriously flawed.

Now, letâ€'s go to Mexico. There, Wal-Mart executives routinely bribed government officials to get what the retailer wanted -- mostly permits to locate Wal-Mart stores, according to a massive New York Times investigation that involved gathering tens of thousands of documents regarding Wal-Mart permits. Times reporters David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab wrote last December:

"Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance . . .It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals."€
After being informed of the bribes by someone involved, Wal-Mart briefly investigated but then squelched that inquiry. Now Wal-Mart is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Here in the United States, workers at warehouses contracted by Wal-Mart in Southern California and Joliet, Ill., walked off the job last year protesting low pay, lack of benefits, unsafe working conditions and faulty equipment. Wal-Mart indicated it might discuss solutions with the workers, but last week, the retail giant rebuffed them.

Wal-Mart'€™s promise of 100,000 jobs for veterans is a good thing. Even if some of those jobs will be part-time. Even if the average Wal-Mart wage is $8.81 an hour -- $15,576 a year -- hardly enough for a veteran -- or anyone else --€“ to live on. Even if Wal-Mart will pay less than half those wages because the federal government will give companies that hire veterans tax credits of up to $9,600 a year for each veteran they employ.

Wal-Mart'€™s promise to buy an additional $5 billion a year in American-made products is a good thing. Even if $5 billion is a tiny number to Wal-Mart, which sold $444 billion worth of stuff last year. Even if Wal-Mart'€™s demand for ever decreasing prices from suppliers is the reason many say they moved factories overseas where laborers are overworked, underpaid and endangered and where environmental are fire safety laws are ignored. Even if Wal-Mart is buying more American not out of patriotism but because it makes sense financially with both foreign wages and transportation costs rising.

More American manufacturing and more jobs are always good. Thank you, Wal-Mart.

But Wal-Mart and Armstrong shouldn't be surprised if their schemes don'€™t win them reconciliation with the American people. Armstrong'€™s failure to apologize reinforced the sense that he fessed up now only to secure the reprieve he wants from his punishment, from his banishment from certain sports. And Wal-Mart'€™s failure to even acknowledge that it has not been a perfect yellow smiley face of a corporation only evokes cynicism about its motives. No remorse, no redemption.

Originally posted to Leo W Gerard on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:18 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, and Anti-Capitalist Chat.

Poll

Those cheap Wal-Mart prices are totally worth a little Bangladesh garment worker blood on my clothes!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Dear Brother Gerard, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, karmsy, northsylvania, Chi

    So Walmart (I refuse to give them 2 capital letters!) has failed to atone for their crimes against working people. What did we really expect?

    The question is: what is the Labor Movement going to do about Walmart? And what are we going to do for the Walmart workers and the warehouse workers and factory workers associated with Walmart?

    When Steel was organized by the SWOC and the CIO, times were tough, and Big Steel and Little Steel were well organized to resist being organized. And yet the great Organizing Drive was undertaken, and, in the face of great danger, largely successful.

    With $500,000 from the UMWA, 300 organizers were hired, 5000 volunteers were recruited, local offices were opened and staffed. US Steel was brot to its knees, Little Steel was a harder nut to crack, but eventually brot to terms.

    So what gives? When did Labor Leaders stop being for Organizing Unions and start being preachers calling for Corporate Atonement? (Like that's ever going to happen.)

    If the fate of the Walmart Workers depends on waiting for Walmart to have a spiritual conversion, then the Walmart Workers may as well resign themselves right now to low wages, abusive supervisors, and death on the job.

    Solidarity,
    JayRaye

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

    by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:40:23 AM PST

    •  PS And seriously, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, northsylvania, Chi

      we are going to put the crime of doping and the crime of murder in some kind of comparison?

      This analogy just does not work for me.

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

      by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:05:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  WE NEVER FORGET (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy, Chi

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

        by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:07:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I thought about this comment for a long time. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye, a2nite

        Because it's made me stop and think, I've tipped it.

        Lance Armstrong is guilty of more than simply doping. He's guilty of betraying the trust of generations of athletes. He's achieved standards of athleticism impossible by normal human measures, and for this reason, has set the bar artificially high--purely for reasons of greed and ego vanity. He's laid the groundwork, both for self-destruction, and for self-hatred in younger athletes. For this reason deserves every censure and has earned every extreme comparison.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:01:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Should be, "For this reason, HE deserves..."n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:03:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  karmsy, I truly appreciate your thoughtful (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy

          comments in this diary.

          But, really I must challenge:

          [Armstrong] For this reason deserves every censure and has earned every extreme comparison.
          Really? What he has done is very wrong, but, really, seriously, you will compare it to profiting off the deaths of textile workers? Seriously? Not in one fire, not in two fires, but fire after fire after fire?

          WE NEVER FORGET
          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

          by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:11:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mayn Rue Plats, dedicated (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            karmsy

            To the men, women, and children who lost their lives while trying to make a living
            Sewing the garments that clothe the world.
            May we continue to fight for social and economic justice
            That we might yet make sweet their resting place.
            Solidarity,
            JayRaye

            WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

            by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:23:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Both WalMart and Lance Armstrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayRaye

            have profited by greed, enormously. WalMart has worker deaths on its conscience. And, because he has helped foment a win-at-any-costs mentality in professional sports and in society, Lance Armstrong, as surely, has death and destruction on his.

            One assertion is quantifiable, the other, not directly so (the attempt to live up to inhuman expectations is a partial factor in many deaths). But I'm not bothered by the comparison.

            Let us agree to disagree.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:30:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK, your thoughtful comment won me over (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              karmsy

              part way.

              I would be completely won over, except that playing sports is a choice, whereas making a living is a necessity. And sports teams aren't usually locked in with no means of escape from the doping.

              But still you made a good point and I am less bothered by the comparison.

              WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

              by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:51:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Fair enough. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JayRaye

                But for certain troubled, vulnerable young people--for example--engaging in competitive sport, to win, is no "choice." It's as deadly serious as anything, and the stakes are life-and-death.

                Some people--many, actually--die for a phony ideal of "perfection," one that's foisted on them, and which they haven't chosen.

                It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

                by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:01:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Fascinating comment, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye

      Some entities, often powerful ones, are incapable of remorse, and a show of good faith takes this into account.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:09:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Should be, "...OUR show of good faith..." n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:14:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is not the job of Unions to ask for (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy, northsylvania, Chi

        or even expect "atonement" from Corporations.

        It is the job of Unions to

        Organize. Period.

        Walmart should have been organized already long ago.
        If not now, when?

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

        by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:15:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't believe this diary is a call for unions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy

          abandoning organization.  I believe it's making a point of how unacceptable Walmart and its actions are.  

          On a personal note, I must admit, I don't understand your strategy of attacking those on your side because they don't say things exactly like you think they should or do exactly as they do.  This diarist is clearly on the same side as you, so why would you choose to criticize the diary the second it's posted?  Is there even one thing that's not true?  Is there anything in it that discourages unions from organizing?  Will not pointing out Walmart's many flaws discourage unionization?  I just don't get it.

          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

          by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:45:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't understand your strategy of (0+ / 0-)

            calling every mild criticism an attack.

            Of course the diary is not a call to abandon organizing, nobody said it was.

            Unions have already largely abandoned organizing so need to make such a call.

            WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

            by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:14:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  PS Unions members should go to their meetings (0+ / 0-)

              stand up and raise just exactly such criticisms.

              Demand to know what your union is doing to organize the unorganized. Demand that they do more. What we need is a massive well funded union organizing campaign on scale of the CIO in the late 30s. The crisis facing low-wage workers is that severe.

              We can talk about what's wrong with Walmart & other low-wage employers until we are blue in the face (and we have), but only by organizing them will we have a chance at solving the problems of low-wage workers.

              Note that I used the term Brother and ended with Solidarity. That's because I am not a bystander in this struggle, but an active participant.

              The labor movement is a democratic movement and we have every right to question our leaders. We should do more of it, not less.

              WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

              by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:39:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you, JayRaye (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye

      You are right. Organizing is the answer. The Steelworkers have helped taxi drivers in Nevada organize. They're working now to help the Palermo pizza makers organize. And the Steelworkers have provided support to the Wal-Mart warehouse workers and other Wal-Mart workers seeking collective bargaining.

      •  And thank you for you reply, (0+ / 0-)

        Brother Gerard.

        I stand ready, able, & willing to help in any way possible.
        Together we can win.

        Solidarity,
        JayRaye

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: USW Local Mourns Fallen Brother

        by JayRaye on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:17:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I do claim a personal expertise in this matter, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, gustynpip

    not because I've ever been a WalMart employee, or because I've followed Lance Armstrong's career closely, but because I (sic) traffic in apologies.

    I meant what I said. I hit people up for 'em, who have not exercised prerogative well, and I give 'em out, for precisely the same reason. If I bother with an apology, it's real. It's empathic. It's connected, it's detailed, and it's remorseful.

    I view the faculty of remorse as a defining human characteristic. I view the apology, at its best, as a wonderful vehicle for that, an affirmation and an expression of humanness.

    I have high standards for apologies for this reason, and I can sniff a phony or self-serving one from a mile away. I am mad at Lance Armstrong, for remaining so half-hearted and two-dimensional in the wake of a revelation about a major moral failing. I am mad at WalMart, too, for its arrogant manipulation and self-serving.

    They've wasted everybody's time.

    (BTW, you may wish to edit. Apostrophes are coming through in my browser as funny characters, and I doubt I'm alone.)

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:58:21 AM PST

    •  Thank you, Karmsy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      Apologies (with real remorse) and forgiveness (without grudges) are key to peaceful living.

      •  You'd be surprised at how hard (0+ / 0-)

        some people struggle with this. In my travels, believe me, I've met critters (human) who will go to the most absurd contortionist flip-flops, to avoid taking responsibility for a mistake. It's an area of terrible anxiety for them. Not for me. If I'm called on a mistake, I will self-examine rigorously, and, if I see the need, correct. Every time.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:17:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  don't have the sources right to hand (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, gustynpip, karmsy

    but I understand from local sources that Walmart abuses in Bangladesh continue to this minute with only a few cosmetic changes and moves to distance themselves legally from their suppliers, much as Union Carbide did after Bhopal

    •  I doubt there's one of us here who are even (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      slightly surprised by that fact.  The surprise would have been had they actually stepped forward and taken action.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:47:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, such as it is, anyway... n/t (0+ / 0-)

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:55:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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