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On the Edge


Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 17, 2005
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The best in last week's editorials from college campuses around the nation

Low wages every day at Wal-Mart

(U-WIRE) HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - On Feb. 10, Wal-Mart announced it will be shutting down its store in Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada, citing unreasonable demands made by the United Food and Commercial Worker's Union. In a news article on CNN.com, Wal-Mart spokesman Andrew Pelletier is quoted as saying, "The store in Jonquiere has been struggling for sometime economically, and in our view the union's demands failed to take into account the fragile condition of the store."

There is some validity in Pelletier's statement. Of course a union trying to obtain better wages and benefits has no real leverage operating a store with ailing business. But like the good skeptic that I am, I started to doubt the Jonquiere store's performance was the sole reason for not giving in to union demands.

It's no government secret low wages, little benefits and unsatisfactory working conditions make for disgruntled employees ready to unionize. Stop any business major on the way to class and he or she will tell you Herzberg's Job Satisfaction Study is one of the first things they learned in Intro to Business. It makes me wonder if the Wal-Mart execs slept in when the professor went over that one.

Maybe it's the fact Wal-Mart muscles suppliers to drop their rates, thus contributing to the outsourcing of jobs to less costly markets like Asia. Maybe it's the fact when the company deems a building unsuitable for upgrade, they build another one down the road and leave the other boarded up and abandoned.

And now it comes full circle. Without better wages and benefits to match the annual cost of living increase, Wal-Mart employees will continue to unionize. And if Wal-Mart doesn't show some lenience in their business policies, the company is going to see a lot more cases like Jonquiere in the future.

- from Marshall University's Parthenon

Tightening economic sanctions best for North Korea

(U-WIRE) MISSOULA, Mont. - Despite its long standing as one of the world's most secretive nations, North Korea's announcement last week that it indeed has nuclear weapons shouldn't have shocked anyone.

Especially the Bush administration.

In a rare statement from Pyongyang, the communist nation's capital, the North Korean government announced Thursday that it possesses nuclear weapons and threatened to withdraw from the six-nation disarmament talks China has been hosting over the last year or so.

Although the White House and others are reluctant to push publicly for a regime change among such world political turmoil, that seems to be the only answer. On Sunday, White House officials hinted that there is a plan to respond to Korea's implied ultimatum with a tougher economic policy.

It's about time.

This latest round of big words from Kim Jong-Il appears to be just another attempt at eased sanctions, another attempt to ask the United States and its negotiating counterparts to care for his people while he neglects.

North Korea's possession of weapons is a threat to all of the parties at the negotiating table. As neighbors, South Korea, China and Russia have obvious interests. The United States has long been the target of Kim's anger because of its economic influence in the region and its ardent and historic support of South Korea.

But the six-party talks have failed repeatedly.

In the past, the keys to negotiating with North Korea have been sanctions and other economic tools that tamper with the millions of dollars in global aid that go toward feeding the nation's nearly 23 million people. Its people, enduring natural disasters and an uncompassionate, military-obsessed government, are starving.

Economic aid is one of few bargaining tools the United States, China, Russia and the other nations whose interests are at stake still have.

North Korea has been on Washington's radar for a long time. No, it's not our job to solve all the world's problems. But if we're going to pick a cause to fight for, this is a worthy one and perhaps it should've been the first.

-from Montana University's Kaiman



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