Wal-Mart recently announced a new initiative to invest $250 billion in products that support American jobs. Accompanying the announcement was this video narrated by Mike Rowe.
I know the usual reaction. Oh grrr Wal-mart! They are evil and the cause of all that is wrong with America!
One of the things I like about Mike Rowe is that he doesn't care what people think. He also doesn't think in a "either-or" mentality where you are "conservative" or you are "liberal". That kind of dichotomous political thinking has landed us $17 trillion in debt. Of course he got a lot of hate mail for doing this voice-over but he took the time to respond to a lot of people on his facebook page. His responses are often snarky but they also pull no punches and expose how ill informed or just ignorant a lot of the comments were.
I guarantee that the vast majority of people who complain incessantly about Wal-Mart have homes full of inexpensive goods made in the same factories that Wal-Mart gets their products. It is a big deal when the single most powerful private market buyer of goods makes a commitment to buying more from companies that employ Americans. Compared to the number of jobs shipped overseas this might seem like a drop in the bucket, especially when we are numb to huge numbers like $250,000,000,000 thanks to trillion dollar deficits but $250 billion is nothing to sneeze at.
What is really going on here is the result of a concerted effort by unions to either unionize Wal-Mart or run them out of business. The leadership of these groups seem focused on hurting Wal-Mart (and their employees) for the sake of a political dispute regardless of whether or not it helps their constituents because Wal-Mart has been the single largest private employer for a long time. Those millions of people who have or who are working at Wal-Mart represent a lot of potential political muscle for unions and a lot of potential union dues. Little wonder that unions are obsessed with unionizing the employees of this particular employer, an obsession that leads to a lot of people harping about how terrible Wal-Mart is even when they are doing something that everyone should find praiseworthy.
As someone looking to make a career change into the world of production and manufacturing I am thankful that Wal-Mart is taking this step and I hope other retailers follow suit. I am once again glad for public people like Mike Rowe who are more concerned with reality than partisan political theater.