Wal-Mart is neither noble or nice

To the Editor,

Jerry Krueger's response (Mailbag, November 28) to Hightower (November 14) is right about two things: Wal-Mart has "operational efficiency" and shoppers vote with their pocketbooks.

Wal-Mart "efficiency" is of the meanest kind: minimal wages, virtually no benefits for employees, buying low-quality products from foreign slave-labor markets (rather than fair-trade items) while claiming to "buy American," keeping prices at or below minimum retail until they drive competitors out of business and then raising prices, counter-suing everyone who brings a claim against them and other similar tactics for their corporate profit. There is nothing noble or nice about Mal-Wort.

Wal-Mart business practices are good for them and bad for communities. One Wal-Mart displaces tens to hundreds of small locally owned and run businesses. Across America, towns have died or are dying and being boarded up because a Wal-Mart moves in. Local business folks who devoted their lives to a community--lived, raised families, belonged to churches and other community-based organizations, put their money back into that community in every conceivable way--are out of business and the community withers and dies.

Now we have Wal-Mart-style efficiency spreading everywhere. The same franchises all across the country. We get to eat, drink, drive, wear, use the same cheap crap as everyone everywhere. There are lots of minimum-wage jobs and we can all work three or four of them to make ends meet. Gone are thriving, unique communities, regional foods, interesting cafes and stores, well, you get my drift.

Can we blame Wal-Mart? Yes, we can. Just because they can get away with cheap-ass, greedy business tactics doesn't mean they should.

And people do indeed vote with their wallets. Every time you shop at Wal-Mart you vote for deteriorating communities and a lower quality of life for all of us. We the people need to see the big picture while we are looking at the sale price tag.

--Meg Keoppen

Slave Laborers

To the Editor,

I am trying to decide if the letter by Jerry Krueger (Mailbag, November 28) about Jim Hightower (November 14) displays Mr. Krueger's own opinion or that of his corporate masters. He states that Wal-Mart is able to have lower retail prices than most other retailers because of its huge purchasing power and operational efficiency. In layman's terms, that means that Wal-Mart is able to offer merchandise created by Chinese slave laborers and sold by American slave laborers.

Mr. Krueger is right: Many people are voting with their pocketbooks for Wal-Mart, but this electoral process is much like the one that put Bush in office: Big money squashes variety, veracity and integrity. How can Tucsonans vote for the Bookmark when it's gone?

There are many local producers of paint, clothing and housewares in Tucson who create original alternatives to the carbon-copy petroleum injections that line the florescent choked aisles of a Wal-Mart. Mr. Krueger is correct when he says no single business could supply Wal-Mart. But all of them together could, because all of them used to fulfill our local needs, in those hoary days before Sam Walton's version of America came to town.

As long as there are people who believe that Tucson is a place for grassy lawns, perhaps Wal-Mart could still carry lawnmowers. As far as tools go, Tucson is obviously not in short supply.

--Zev Rubin


To the Editor,

Thanks to Congressman-Elect Raúl Grijalva. By taking Rodney Glassman to Washington, the ice-skating community will hopefully in two or three years get back to the way it was before he ran over 400 skaters off ("Rinky Dink," October 31). The last five years have been very sad for figure, hockey and just fun skating.

Also, if Mr. Glassman will do for the Democrats what he has done to ice skating, the Republican party will benefit as if they added another seat to their side of the aisle.

--Jarrod K. Eliot

Indian Territory

To the Editor,

In Stuart Alan Becker's article on Mount Graham (December 5), he left out an important fact: Mount Graham is not located on any Indian Nation territory. Fort Apache and the San Carlos reservations are to the north of Mount Graham.

Kitt Peak National Observatory lies in the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. Yet there is no controversy with any of those telescopes operating in that Indian nation.

Recently the Arizona Indian tribes spent millions of dollars supporting a proposition to allow more gambling on their reservations. I have always found it interesting that Indian tribes have no problems having slot machines, tax-free tobacco and ski resorts on Indian territory. Yet a few get upset when telescopes are built outside of their nation.

--Frank Quiroz

Star Wars: The Review

To the Editor,

I can understand being negative while giving a negative review. But why does James DiGiovanna have to be so negative in his positive review of Solaris (Cinema, December 5)? He spent nearly half the review dissing Star Wars as "one of the dumbest westerns ever made." He then went on to say Star Wars ruined the science fiction genre and American cinema in general!

First of all, Mr. DiGiovanna, there are plenty of westerns dumber than Star Wars. If you don't believe me, rent The Commancheros, where you can watch horses trip over hidden wires for 30 minutes. Second of all, Mr. DiGiovanna, please tell me which westerns have the visual imagination of Star Wars? Which westerns touch upon Buddhist philosophy? Star Wars is influenced by serial westerns, but it is also influenced by fantasy novels, samurai epics and other genres you doubtless also consider dumb. I happen to like it, it created a whole other world that was entertaining and fun. If that is dumb then, oh well.

Mr. DiGiovanna also says that artistry in science fiction films had been "so prevalent" throughout the 1970s prior to Star Wars. He says the films that preceded it were thoughtful intellectual treatises on human nature. What movies were you watching, Mr. DiGiovanna? The fifth Planet of the Apes sequel? How about Omega Man, Stepford Wives, or maybe Logan's Run? Rollerball? Zardoz? These films were mostly crap! They were campy at best. The one thing they have in common is that they all have pessimistic, dystopian views of the future--I bet Mr. DiGiovanna likes that.

The worst thing about the review is his claim that Star Wars ruined cinema because all the sci-fi and other movies that followed it were derivative. Then he goes on to praise Steven Soderbergh for being derivative of Stanley Kubrick! I don't know what artistic galaxy Mr. DiGiovanna's critical faculties come from, but I'll bet it's somewhere far, far away ...

--Bob Pinson

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