GM products Wal-Mart
I like Wal-Mart and I shop there for basic supplies and needs. Wal-Mart clearly beats other stores in terms of pricing, which makes it very attractive for both low-income and middle-income consumers. Wal-Mart has had a tremendous impact on my community in terms of bringing in local jobs. However, it also affected the operations of smaller businesses, many of whom have suffered because they could not compete with Wal-mart prices. Most of the people in my neighborhood, for instance, prefer to shop at Wal-Mart because it enables them to stretch their incomes.
The effect of Wal-Mart on consumer behavior, I would like to believe, is that it cultivates and reinforces the “consumer identity” (Featherstone 4) wherein individuals tend to see themselves more as a shopper than as citizens and are concerned with having value for their money which limits their ability to critically analyze the effects of giant retailers and corporate activity on their communities. Indeed, Wal-Mart is evidence that a retailer can become too large and powerful enough to monopolize the market through the use of capital to diminish rival’s competitive edge and to influence policymaking in order to further business interests.
Opposition to Wal-Mart expansion can therefore be considered a legitimate part of the political process as Wal-Mart affects not only the economic but also the political aspect of community life in communities where Wal-mart’s business is located. People and communities have the right to voice their opposition to business efforts that they perceive would be detrimental to the residents. Hence, Wal-mart’s claim that its company rights are being violated would be debunked by the citizen’s rights and the cause of greater social good.
Likewise, Wal-mart must be able to prove that it is fulfilling its social obligations, not just its obligations to its investors and stockholders, in order to be able to convince the people that having Wal-mart is beneficial to the communities. 2. General Motors is involved in the payment of retiree and pension benefits to 1. 1 million employees (Loomis, 2006) which has an immense impact on the company’s ability to perform financially.
The burden of the health care benefits, according to a story on BusinessWeek, is exemplified in the fact that “the carmaker is saddled with a $1,600-per-vehicle handicap in so-called legacy costs. ” This amount alone is enough to prevent the company from being competitive in terms of pricing, a great disadvantage and company weakness at a time when other carmakers such as Toyota can come up with cars that have the same quality at much lowered prices to acknowledge the fact that consumers have become more cautious in choosing and buying cars because of recent economic downturns and rising fuel prices.
Another glaring weakness in General Motors that is responsible for its decreased market share is the lackluster technology and design of its newer cars compared to other cars in the market, borne from years of underinvestment in research and product development (BusinessWeek, 2005). Thus, the Cadillac was soon replaced by the Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes brands whose companies were able to sustain the luxury-brand image and introduce more responsive features in the vehicles.
General Motors, on the other hand, was embroiled in quality issues after it began outsourcing most of its operations to poorer countries as part of its cost-cutting measures. The controversy over GM car’s quality also emerged after the company replaced most of its veteran workers with low-cost hires (Terlep 2008). Quality is a clearly a valid issue since consumers are becoming more discerning in their purchases in the midst of rising living costs and the need for greater road safety.
General Motors’ decline is also caused by the company’s weakness in vertical integration. For instance, while General Motors outsourced most of its operations, such as manufacturing processes, to neighboring countries such as Mexico in order to save on labor costs, its distribution includes countries in Asia and Europe, which makes increases the costs for transporting and selling GM cars to these areas.
Toyota, on the other hand, establishes a plant in countries where it is located which minimizes manufacturing, labor, and distribution costs altogether. Thus, GM is clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to Toyota’s ability to maximize savings in terms of production and sales activities. General Motor’s focus on selling trucks and SUVs is also a short-term and unsustainable strategy for the company. As Loomis notes, heavy sized vehicles that consume too much gas renders GM products to be “on the wrong side of gas prices.
”Growing consciousness among consumers about the environmental havoc wreaked by heavy gas guzzlers also puts not only the attractiveness of GM’s products on the negative but also jeopardized the company’s reputation in terms of its social responsibility. 3. Eminent domain is a morally legitimate right of government only if the invocation of such rights would actually result to the public good. Eminent domain is justified if it would directly enhance the life of the citizens and improve the delivery of social services such as building housing for the poor, renovating roads and railways, or building schools and hospitals.
However, the concept of eminent domain, which is derived from utilitarian ethics, may also be rendered illegitimate and immoral when it comes into conflict with rights-based ethics. In this sense, New London can be considered as guilty of unfair treatment of Susette Kelo and her neighbors given that the local government is trying to seize their property—and in effect their rights to these properties—only to hand it over to another private entity.
The local government’s move and invocation of eminent domain in order to facilitate the entry of private developers would be a violation of human rights—the right to their homes and their livelihood. Hence, using the payment of “just compensation” to the aggreived parties as proof that people like Susette Kelo are being treated in a just manner is not enough to validate taking away people’s properties to sell to upscale developers who can pay better taxes.
BusinessWeek. “Why GM’s Plan Won’t Work. ” May 9, 2005. June 26, 2008. http://www. businessweek. com/magazine/content/05_19/b3932001_mz001. htm Featherstone, Liza. “Down and Out in Discount America. ” December 16, 2004. The Nation. June 26, 2008. http://www. thenation. com/doc/20050103/featherstone Loomis, Carol. “The Tragedy of General Motors. ” February 16, 2006. CNNMoney Online. June 26, 2008. http://money. cnn. com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/02/20/8369111/index. htm
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