The Hightower Report

Wal-Mart's New Frontman; and Mr. President, Greenland Is Melting


WAL-MART'S NEW FRONTMAN

Good grief! Someone take up a collection, go to Wal-Mart, and buy a clue for Andy Young.

This former civil rights worker, union organizer, mayor, Congress critter, and UN ambassador has now cashed in his political influence to become a frontman for – grab your socks – Wal-Mart! Yes, the retailing behemoth renowned and reviled for its poverty wages, miserly benefits, discrimination against women, third-world sweatshop goods, and predatory tactics to crush small business.

How mingy is Wal-Mart? So mingy that a jury has found it guilty of cheating thousands of its workers out of their 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks. This is the greed-headed outfit that Andy Young now works for, serving as chairman of "Working Families for Wal-Mart," a new PR front to polish the thoroughly tarnished image of this abusive giant. Why? Well ... money, for one thing.

Young is the paid head of a corporate-funded group called Goodworks, which is getting money from the new Wal-Mart PR front. Who is the largest funder of the PR front? Wal-Mart, of course.

Young insists that the global corporation is not getting credit for helping local economies. "Wal-Mart is generating new wealth when it comes to a town," he asserts. Hogwash. Wal-Mart merely diverts sales from local businesses and then extracts that wealth from our communities, hauling it back to corporate headquarters.

Nor does Wal-Mart create jobs for local economies. Its stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than do the local retailers it displaces. Also, retail pay levels fall, for Wal-Mart lowers the local wage scale.

Maybe Andy Young can fool himself, but he can't fool us. Check out an independent study called "The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets." Contact the Public Policy Institute of California: 415/291-4400.


MR. PRESIDENT, GREENLAND IS MELTING

George W.'s mind seems to operate in an assbackward fashion. When there is zero evidence to warrant a presidential rush to action, he plunges dead ahead, facts be damned. Yet, when there is an abundance of evidence on an issue crying out for presidential action, he sits on his duff and does nothing.

As we now know, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection to al Qaeda or 9/11, and posed no threat to our nation's security. But there we are, with our soldiers and country mired in Bush's bloody mess. Meanwhile, a new report shows that Greenland is melting in front of our very eyes. But Bush blindly insists that global warming is not happening and, therefore, the U.S. should merrily keep pumping out fossil fuel emissions, leaving the entire globe facing a disastrous mess.

Using satellites, a research team from NASA and the University of Kansas has discovered the alarming fact that Greenland's vast glaciers are melting more than twice as fast as they were only 10 years ago. This is no small matter – the Greenland Ice Sheet is up to 2 miles thick and covers an area nearly as big as Mexico. Over the last two decades, the air temperature over the country's southern glaciers has risen by 5.4 degrees, causing a larger and faster ice melt that, in turn, is causing a worrisome rise in sea levels. In 1996, Greenland lost 22 cubic miles of its ice sheet. Last year, it lost 54 cubic miles.

How much is that? Only one-fourth of a cubic mile of ice would supply all of the water that Los Angeles consumes in a year.

This melt rate mirrors the findings of researchers analyzing other ice sheets, from the Himalayas to Bolivia. This drastic change not only threatens people on sea coasts, but also means the globe will see more and bigger storms.

Would someone please take off Bush's blindfold and tell him to get his butt in gear.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Wal-Mart, Andy Young, Public Policy Institute of California, George W. Bush, Iraq War, al Qaeda, 9 / 11, Greenland, NASA, University of Kansas, Greenland Ice Sheet

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