Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT
Re: "Whatever one's view of Wal-Mart, surely the company and its
critics can agree that its executives have to follow the law."Agreed. But most actual Mexican law, law affecting real people every day, is
unwritten. And paying bribes to assure government neutrality in business
transactions has become the law in Mexico.This issue is strictly
about money -- who got it and who didn't. Wal-Mart's actual
"crime" was bribing the wrong officials, and not bribing the right
ones.As anyone doing business in Mexico can attest, its government
is powerless to help business, but has immense power to hinder it. Bribes to
government officials have become the only path to secure, not help, but
government neutrality.This neutrality is often abused, as needless
damage and carnage from poorly constructed buildings during every Mexican
earthquake attests, but responsible companies are no more able to operate
without bribing government officials than irresponsible companies.This too-powerful, easily corruptible government is the liberal solution to
everything.God save us from liberal "solutions!"
Does anyone believe that any of these employees will go to jail?I
sure don't.The stock will take a hit, millions of shareholders
will lose money but those that made the decisions will not be touched.
38 years ago I had some US businessmen visit me in my office in Teheran, Iran.
They had just come from a seminar given by the State Dept. in Washington where
they were told that in order to do business in the middle east they had to pay
certain "agent fees" (bribes). They wanted to know if that was correct
and I told them it was and proceeded to tell how much was expected in each of
the countries in that part of the world. Not much later Pres. Carter
flip-flopped and started sending US executives, who followed this advice, to
jail. Needless to say, contracts won by US firms plummeted. The Japanese and
Germans toasted this policy with champagne and caviar. Are "agent fees"
necessary in Mexico? Duh!!! Play or stay home.
Every company has to decide whether it will put aside ethics in order to chase
the dollar. Wal-Mart has told the world that nothing is as important to it than
money. It will corrupt officials and let its officials become corrupt to chase
that money.If a company will bribe governments, who's to say
that it won't bribe suppliers? Who's to say that it will honestly with
anyone?When a company has proven that it is dishonest, then honest
people have to ask why they should do business with Wal-Mart.
To point out that bribery is de rigueur in Mexico addresses only half the
problem. Big American corporations are as corrupt as they need to, as evidenced
by Walmart's actions. And the politicians they put in office are complicit.
Walmart, in the cliche of our times, is "too big to fail"; it IS our
economy, it will be protected. A slap on the hand, a laughable fine, the public
reminding itself that bribery is common practice...and Walmart's free to
conquer the retail world again in any way it chooses.The best
outcome we can hope for is that the embarrassment generated by "Walmex"
will make other places it wants to conquer, especially India, hesitate to
cooperate for fear of their own bribe-laden infrastructures being exposed.
@CLM. But much, much less than our competitors in Japan, Germany and all the
other countries that are beating our socks off in international business.
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