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'Wal-Mart is good for America,' say Miami students

Nearly 400 Miami students voted 263 to 119 that Wal-Mart is good for America after hearing speeches for and against the resolution by graduate students in forensics and speech communications. The audience debate forum was held Oct. 18.

Erika Thomas and Robert Yale argued in the affirmative, Brianna Abate and Matthew Maddex in the negative. Issues raised addressed Wal-Mart's social contract with Americans.

Abate said Wal-Mart spends about $14 billion on Chinese goods every year. Yale countered that the figure is actually $18 billion, but added that Wal-Mart spent $11 billion last year on goods produced in Ohio alone. Overall, Wal-Mart spends $150 billion annually on goods produced in the United States.

On the issue of Wal-Mart's $5.15 per hour average salary as less than “a living wage,” Yale pointed out that 76 percent of Wal-Mart executives started in those jobs, saying “Wal-Mart offers the opportunity to move up.” There are six to 10 applications for every available job, added Thomas.

Wal-Mart contributes $200 million annually to charities and was cited in The New York Times after Hurricane Katrina for providing a faster, better response than FEMA in providing aid.

Ben Voth (communication) is director of Miami forensics, a co-curricular program of the communication department. More than 1,000 students each year attend audience debate forums designed to stimulate critical thinking. “Our goal is to engage controversies that will help people increase their understanding of public argument,” he says. “We want it to be a mass training exercise in the basic principles of democracy.” The Miami Wal-Mart debate can be downloaded online:

Date Published: 11/03/2005
Volume: 25   Number: 14


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