Comments of the Week: Walmart, OWS and Romney

Comments of the Week: Walmart, OWS and Romney

Comments of the Week: Walmart, OWS and Romney

Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray.

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Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!

Greek observer: The Nation needs to publish more of this kind of reporting/investigation: the real consequences of global trade agreements. I wish there were reports like that about the EU area and its neighboring countries. It functions very similarly to NAFTA. EU countries are held to similar WTO-generated "rules" to that of NAFTA plus the Brussels-generated common policies. The loss of business and other kinds of domestic ownership, good jobs, and production is quite similar. Global and regional conglomerates dominate domestic markets and employment. The results are evident in Greece.
In response to David Bacon’s “How US Policies Fueled Mexico’s Great Migration.” January 4, 2012

Kavendish: I worked for a similar retail food store operation for ten years. The very first lesson in the management-training manual involved this factoid: the single most controllable expense is PAYROLL. You can see this played out nationally where corporations have exported as many jobs as possible to "safer havens" where people are paid wages bordering on slave labor levels. This translates locally into much fewer jobs being chased by many more workers. "Hey! Hire me! I will do more work for less money!" is the inevitable result. The worst part about it? Corporations don’t just do this intentionally; they hire very well paid lobbyists to make the multitudes believe it to be a righteous way to go in America. You know…they call it "Patriotism.”
In response to Spencer Woodman’s “Labor Takes Aim at Walmart—Again.” January 4, 2012

Kemah: I live next to a Walmart and have become friends with their greeter. He was denied a raise because his handwriting was terrible. We are talking about a twenty-five-cent raise per hour. Second time he was denied a raise because his manager witnessed him not greeting every customer that walked into the store. He says all the employees hate working there but have no choice because of lack of jobs in the area. Most of the employees also collect food stamps, Medicaid, etc.
In response to Spencer Woodman’s “Labor Takes Aim at Walmart—Again.” January 4, 2012

Cwinkler26: I would dearly like to see some activity in the low-income neighborhoods and trailer parks. There has been a certain self-centeredness to OWS, expecting that OF COURSE people will flock to the movement. It’s time to take the movement to the people. Involve the people who are most seriously hurt by the direction this country is going—the most vulnerable. Not just people without homes, but people scraping by day to day, trying to find the pennies to pay the electric bill and hoping their kids can go on the field trip with the rest of their class. Make the connections amongst those without the Internet, with only a pay-as-you-go cell phone, working two or more jobs to keep the heat on. And do it as real, day-in and day-out relationships. Make it a life’s work. Change how the country thinks, not just by talking to ourselves, but by engaging in real (and I mean real) conversation with the bodega workers, the janitors, the folks working on their G.E.D.s. Listen, hear.
In response to Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom’s “Why Now? What’s Next? Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom in Conversation About Occupy Wall Street.” January 9, 2012

ToddG: There are a lot of great things going on in the movement, and I look forward to seeing the various manifestations in the coming year. However I get the feeling that there will eventually come a point at which the desires of the movement hit a wall. We already see a lot of walls put up by the government and by Wall Street. There has been a bit of progress here and there because there are some in government that support the movement, and because political pressure and procedures have made it possible to win a few legislative and administrative battles. However, I believe that the underlying change that the movement stands for cannot change without two things happening.
1. The movement has to reach enough independents and conservatives on the issues of true democratic representation and an upending of the corruption. I think this has started, and I have seen the movement embrace libertarians to a degree and accept conservatives, however I don’t know yet if it is enough to accomplish the second task, which I see as vital.
2. We will need election reforms at the local and state levels if we ever want real federal reforms. We need something like instant runoff voting so that the discussion isn’t always so easily forced into the standard partisan narrative and away from the issues that the movement cares about. Dealing with the primary system would help as well, though primaries would matter less with instant runoff voting. Getting rid of gerrymandering also has to happen at the state level, and that would also reduce the negative effects of the primary system and the intense partisanship in Congress that makes it easier for officials to ignore real issues.
To summarize, I feel that we need to build bridges and focus on the issues of election reform at local levels in order for it to be possible for our political system to respond to those visions of a new political and economic system. I don’t suggest that we shouldn’t fight for housing, fair taxation, public education funding, decreased defense spending, etc. However, at the end of the day we can only go so far on those issues without actually fixing the way we elect and interact with our representatives.
In response to Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom’s “Why Now? What’s Next? Naomi Klein and Yotam Marom in Conversation About Occupy Wall Street.” January 9, 2012

JoeCantwell: I almost always agree with Katrina, but this time I’m not so sure. She makes an argument that is persuasive at first blush: Mitt Romney is a right-wing extremist at heart. (I realize that juxtaposing the terms, "right wing" and "heart" is oxymoronic.)
But Katrina neglects to mention one trifling detail: Romney’s tenure as Governor of Massachusetts during which he supported, and implemented, many liberal programs including so called "RomneyCare."
It’s extraordinarily difficult to imagine a right wing extremist conducting himself in this fashion. Can you conceive of Scott Walker or Rick Scott, for example, supporting universal health care in their respective states?
No, I think there’s another explanation for Romney’s rebirth as a right-wing extremist. That is that Mitt Romney will say anything, and do anything, to get elected to whatever position he is currently seeking. He’s reminiscent of one of the many deathless lines that were uttered by Captain Renault in Casablanca:
"I have no conviction, if that’s what you mean. I blow with the wind. And the prevailing wind is from Vichy."
Unfortunately, these days the "prevailing wind" in the GOP comes straight from the Tea Party. So, with his customary lack of any actual viewpoint about anything other than winning an election, Romney has merely been perpetually repeating whatever he thinks the Tea Baggers want to hear.
Ironically, he has been spewing so much extreme right-wing orthodoxy, that his primary opponents are now attacking him from the left!
However, this does not mean that he would necessarily try to implement all these extreme positions if, God forbid, he were elected president. Even he probably has no idea about the kind of policies he would advocate if he were in the White House except, of course, that he would staunchly support the financial well being of the 1% at the expense of everyone else, all the while whistling an off key tune about his, with his $250 million dollars and his five mansions, being just like the rest of us.
(At least he deserves credit for remembering how many homes he currently owns. But then, give him time.)
One, and only one, of his enunciated policies gives one pause: his promise to build a fence between the United States and Mexico. One can’t help but wonder why in the world Mitt Romney, of all people, wants another fence when he has been straddling one ever since he entered the political arena.
In response to Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “Mitt Romney: Extremist in Pinstripes.” January 10, 2012

Dear reader,

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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