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Who looks out for local businesses?

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The debate over the advent of Wal-Mart has been interesting, but I haven’t seen or heard anything from our local Chamber of Commerce whose members are the local businesses that will inevitably feel the effects of this predatory giant. Despite what some of my fellow citizens want to believe, Wal-Mart does have predictable marketing and employment strategies that are harmful to neighborhood health. “Made in China” and “Grown in Indonesia” are as much a part of the Wal-Mart corporate culture as discrimination against women. Wal-Mart can claim that women employees are paid and promoted less than men only by a few “rogue managers,” but then we would have to believe either that top management is incompetent in enforcing employment law or that Wal-Mart makes a practice of hiring/promoting “rogue managers.” And buying in massive quantities from cheap foreign (slave) labor allows Wal-Mart to undercut local purveyors who do not have equal buying power. I hope our local enterprises survive. So, Chamber of Commerce: Where do you stand on the Wal-Mart question? Chuck Huber, Newcastle