The Criticism Aimed at Wal-Mart

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Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line. "Buy American" banners are prominently placed throughout its stores; however, the majority of its goods are made outside the U.S. and often in sweatshops. Critics believe that Wal-Mart opens stores to saturate the marketplace and clear out the competition, then closes the stores and leaves them sitting empty. Freedom of speech issues also come into play. Musicians are at the mercy of Wal-Mart's stringent content rules, forcing many to create "sanitized" versions of their albums specifically for the discount chain

Despite a well-publicized "Made in the U.S.A." campaign, 85 percent of the stores' items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops. In fact, only after Wal-Mart's "Buy American" ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country's largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry. By taking its orders abroad, Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business. The chain was broadly criticized for being the primary distributor of many goods attracting controversy, including Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line, Disney's Haitian-made pajamas, child-produced clothing from Bangladesh and sweatshop-produced toys and sports gear from Asia. Difficult working conditions also exist in the United States: In 1991, labor inspectors found labels for Wal-Mart brands being made in Manhattan's Chinatown. There, 16 and 17 year-old Chinese immigrants without permits had been working for one month without being paid.
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