The growth of Wal-Mart has been a topic of this board before (and brought up in a number of threads). This evening, I watched a fascinating program on how Wal-Mart has transformed the American economy - in some ways good, in a lot of ways BAD. You can find much of the info on the program's site on PBS.org. And the program will be available online. It USED to be that manufacturers were the ones who dictated prices to wholesalers and retailers, based on their costs and their expectation of a reasonable profit. But these days Wal-Mart is the one telling the manufacturers what the prices will be, because of their push for low retail prices for their consumers. Their buyers are telling manufacturers what prices they will pay, or they won't stock the item in their stores. So in order to compete, manufacturers must produce their goods where the cost is lowest. Namely China. And the trade deficit with China is blossoming into hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the program highlighted a number of cases where plants have shut down because of foreign competition. Apparently. the only American-owned company making TVs here in the United States is in Greenville, Tennessee. And the primary reason that company is still in business is because they filed and won a fair trade suit against Chinese manufacturers. BUT Wal-Mart filed a brief in support of the CHINESE companies. Pretty fishy for an AMERICAN company, right? If only American workers could only accept the pittance wages Chinese workers did, didn't need benefits, didn't join unions, then we wouldn't be losing ground to the Chinese economically. This is one of the economic messes we liberals must admit Bill Clinton was (at least partially) responsible for. He's the one who cemented this free trade agreement with China and sold it to the American people under false pretenses... that China would be this massive market for our goods. But instead, we're only sending raw materials there and getting them to make our TVs, computers, clothes etc. And it was during Clinton's time in office that the Arkansas-based retailer spread from beyond the South and Midwest to all over the country. But this is one mess I can guarantee that Dubya will do absolutely nothing about.