Time magazine, in an article about the growing success of dollar stores (“The Buck Stops Here,” Dec.20, 2010) makes it clear that everyone loves a bargain. But there is a hidden cost that few Americans think about. How is it we can buy so much that only costs a dollar? Because so many of our manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas—largely because of free trade and corporate tax benefits—to places where workers struggle with miniscule wages and lax labor and environmental laws.
With our jobs disappearing and wages declining, Americans are understandably attracted to cheap prices. But it’s a vicious cycle. Unless we make some major changes in our laws to keep jobs here and our wages stable, those dollar price tags will become even more enticing. Consumers will continue to seek the cheapest prices, while businesses will continue looking for the cheapest wages. It’s a race to the bottom and most of us will be losers. Those cheap Dollar Store and Walmart prices cost a lot more than the typical shopper realizes.