Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fung Wah and Walmart: the High Cost of Low Prices

Via angryasianman, I read this article on a Fung Wah bus that overturned on its way from New York to Boston. This isn't the first traffic and safety violation that Fung Wah has had on its record, but people continue to ride the bus because of its everyday low, low prices. Just see below:
Last August, a Fung Wah bus bound for New York caught fire in Meriden, Conn., and 45 passengers were evacuated moments before flames engulfed it. . .

The Chinatown-to-Chinatown buses, which are called tour buses and whose seats cost $15 each way, are cheap alternatives to trains and more expensive bus lines such as Greyhound.

Tuesday's accident didn't deter people from using the popular service. Dozens of people lined the sidewalk Wednesday, waiting to board one of Fung Wah's 20 buses.

Kristina Schwab, 22, of New York, said she was a little nervous about taking the 3 p.m. bus to Boston but practical considerations ruled.

"It's still a good deal," she said.
Sound familiar? Perhaps it's because everyday, college students and others looking to save a few bucks pick their bottom line over other concerns, like safety and long term consequences. Kinda like how many people know vaguely that Walmart is bad or that it's all sweatshop made items, and yet continue shopping there regardless. I know plenty of people who do so, and it's because when you're short on cash, that's your immediate concern, as opposed to how a big box store is going to impact your local economy and employment 10 years down the line (if it's still standing), or what the working conditions are like for people in faraway third world countries. If people don't care that they might be burned alive in a hulk of metal, why would they care about longterm consequences? That is, if people even know these companies' poor safety records. It takes continual exposure to the facts (and the more graphic the better) to make an impression on most people.

So groups like Walmart Watch and WakeUp Walmart are starting to make a dent in Walmart's shiny feelgood armor but have a lot of work ahead of them. The first step is repeated negative publicity for Walmart, preferably about something that directly impacts their target audience in the next year or month, not dangers far off in the distance.

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