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Wal-Mart Nation:

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by

Jarod Roll

on 30 November 2016

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Transcript of Wal-Mart Nation:

Wal-Mart Nation:
The 1990s

HIS 106
Dr. Roll
Wal-Mart Expansion
Wal-Mart model:
--low prices: cheap production, since 1980s outside the US
--low wages: hiring people who will accept inadequate pay (poorly educated, women, students, the elderly); also, attacking labor unions that might raise pay
--computerized distribution and pricing; barcodes, satellites, handheld inventory systems
Wal-Mart Power: largest private employer in the world; third largest employer in the world (US military, Chinese army)
--decline of manufacturing
--rise of FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate)
--rise of business and professional services
--rise (but less so) of educational, health and social services
--trade deficit widens
As capital (money) is freed to go global, especially since the 1980s:
Prison another means to deal with economic change:
--Sentencing Reform Act, 1984
--incarcerated prisoners doubled in number in 1980s
--African American men affected most; urban communities policed the hardest since 1960s
--"prison-industrial complex" the largest sector of employment in US: jails/prisons; police; probation; law and judicial
Cheap oil softens this transitions:
--Reagan bargain with Saudi Arabia
--Reagan support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq-Iran war, 1980-1988
--George H. W. Bush then went to war against Iraq in 1990 after it invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia
--led to American military presence on Arabian peninsula
Free market capitalism, free trade help win Cold War:
--after 1985 Reagan bargained with Gorbachev, who had started period of relaxation of Soviet regime
--Soviet Union allowed itself to be dismantled by internal dissidents, beginning in 1989, and collapsed at the end of 1991
Economic fallout from deindustrialization upended Bush in 1992 as unemployment increased to over 7%
William J. "Bill" Clinton
--Governor of Arkansas
--close ties to the Waltons, Wal-Mart
--Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)
--"New Democrat"
--triangulation
Clinton an extension of Reagan, not a break:
--free trade, globalization
--free markets
--balanced budgets
--North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): created under Reagan, first passed under Bush, signed by Clinton in 1993
--Clinton made this a priority over healthcare legislation, which was vulnerable as a result
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, 1994:
--new federal sentencing guidelines, even for non-violent drug offenses
--three strikes, life sentence
But, with a hint of New Deal/Great Society:
--Family and Medical Leave Act (were you a result of this?)
--Federal Assault Weapons ban (since expired)
--implementation of Americans with Disabilities Act (signed by Bush)
--implementation of the Clean Air Act (signed by Bush)
Contract with America, 1994
--Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, took both houses of Congress
--seen as a rebuke to Clinton, but actually fortified Clinton's New Democrat tendencies
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, 1996:
--abolished aid to poor women with children
--two year limit on welfare benefits
--five year lifetime cap on benefits
--welfare rolls down from 12.5 million to 4.5 million by 2006
--women cut from this earned an average of $12,000 a year afterward
De-regulation of telecommunications industry:
--created national market of phone, internet and cable providers; Verizon created, an early beneficiary
--telecoms provided 2/3 of all new jobs in the US, 1992-2001
Economic growth, mainly off of telecom industry, and shrinking budget deficits in 1990s stole Republican arguments--Clinton won easy re-election in 1996
1997: Clinton signed biggest tax cut since Reagan's in 1981; also raised the Earned Income Tax Credit, tax breaks for low-wage workers (this replaced welfare spending); some argued it subsidized Wal-Mart's low-wage business model
Lewinsky Scandal: 1997-1998
Still, Clinton able to finish Reagan's work of letting the Bull Market loose:

--Financial Modernization Act, 1999: replaced New Deal banking regulations by removing firewalls between commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and securities firms

--Futures Modernization Act, 2000: exempted credit default swaps and other asset-backed securities from federal regulation
This is the End: 1998
August: Al Qaeda bombs US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya
Clinton responds with cruise missile strikes against suspected Al Qaeda bases in Sudan and Afghanistan; some Republicans accuse him of inventing Osama bin Laden to distract from Lewinsky scandal
Other major focus is impact of technology:
--not the founding of Google that year, which went unremarked, but:

At Wal-Mart stores across the country, battles for Furby in the fall of 1998:
--mania: "it's in our minds"
--fist-fights
--riots

Stories about Furby contended with stories about:
--debates about whether Al Qaeda was real
--Lewinsky, as impeachment proceedings began in December
--Operation Desert Fox: US/UK airstrikes against Iraq to enforce no-fly zone in early December

Furby and the new age of insecurity
A century of American capitalism:
from the Corliss Giant to Furby
Full transcript