A more insidious form of exploitation

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I can understand Gabriella Hebert's concern for employee exploitation, which is a bad thing, but unfortunately Wal-Mart isn't the only place that does it.

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Allow me to introduce to Hebert (see June 1 Juneau Empire) another type of exploitation - consumer exploitation. That is when a store takes something that costs, let's say $5, then charges customers $20 because there is nowhere else to get this item.

This evil type of exploitation is a little different than employee exploitation. Employees can always work somewhere else. If they don't like Wal-Mart, they can go work at Fred Meyer. So, employee exploitation is easy to fix.

But consumer exploitation is much harder to fix, especially if all the businesses in town are in on it together.

Let me share a true event that took place in my life. Around Thanksgiving, I decided to buy a new pair of pants. A local store was charging $45 for a pair, but I decided to wait until I traveled south to visit my family before shopping. While on my trip, I went to the same type of store, owned by the same company, and found the very same pair of pants selling for $22. That's consumer exploitation.

The local branch of that company will tell me the pants cost $23 more because they have to ship everything in. But that's not really true. I could have mailed my new pants to me and still had $15 left over. Somebody is lying, and it isn't me.

This is why we need a Wal-Mart, so that people can afford to buy things at reasonable prices.

Here is some advice for Hebert:

If she knows anyone who is complaining about working at Wal-Mart, remind them they can work somewhere else. If they don't want to quit, then encourage them to stand for what is right; perhaps they can solve the alleged worker exploitation from within.

Hebert should get a good education so she can get a job making lots of money. Then she can do her shopping where she pleases.

If Hebert really is an 8-year-old and concerned about these type of things, then she should get involved locally and make it a hobby to know what is going on in her community. I bet she can make it far in life. Kudos for a good letter.

Carlton Goode

Ketchikan



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