Thursday, August 23, 2012

Walmart Warns Investors of Production Snags as Child Mortality Rates Soar in Sudan

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Since the early 2000s, Walmart executives, shareholders and Wall Street investors have worried about living conditions in third world countries. "Like all large companies that rely on manufacturing and distribution, Walmart has focused heavily on issues of human rights, forced labor and health factors," said Len Waybill, head economist for the conservative Peter Pinguid Society. "If a developing nation's environment turns inhospitable, the vital supply of child workers dwindles to unsustainable levels. That drives up the cost of goods, and could subsequently destroy Walmart margins and the value of its stock -- an unthinkable, apocalyptic scenario." On Thursday, those fears became a reality after a study conducted by Medicine sans Frontier (MSF) found child mortality rates in South Sudan far surpassing emergency levels for the region.

Researchers at MSF described mortality rates for the total population as "substantially" exceeding the emergency threshold. For example, deaths associated with children under the age of five have more than doubled the emergency level. Diarrhea accounts for more than 90 percent of the deaths, with malnutrition cited as the primary contributing factor. At least 28 percent of children under five are malnourished, and 10 percent face severe malnutrition. The statistics become more dire in children under two. Among this segment, 44 percent are malnourished and 18 percent have already progressed to the most life-threatening stages of the disease.

"It's especially hard when you hear about infants and toddlers suffering slow, terrible deaths," Walmart HR representative Effienne Kierter told reporters, wiping away tears. "These kids are the future. They're the next generation of workers who'll be manning the assembly lines, the sewing machines, the packing plants. You can train them early, and when they hit the killing production floors, they can pull a 17- to 20-hour shift like nobody's business. But if they keep dying off, there won't be a developing population of child slaves to replace them -- just a bunch of washed-out 13-year-olds well past their primes."

Once the older slaves reach 15, Kierter said, they will also lose out on opportunities to earn income through forced prostitution.

"American and European businessmen looking to indulge in these more exotic carnal pleasures won't consider sex workers beyond that age," Waybill noted. "Most buyers tend to shy away after a child reaches puberty. So these teens will probably die of starvation or disease too, which then depletes the pool of potential baby makers. In the end, it's a vicious circle that leads to the equivalent of workforce genocide, with Walmart customers standing in the cinders of the holocaust. It could take years to sort everything out and move forward again."

Walmart shares slumped 3.3 percent after investor confidence soured when the company reported disappointing earnings in fiscal sales, losing the war of low prices to its competitor, Target. Analysts and Walmart executives expect to lose an even greater edge on maintaining low prices if mortality rates in other third world countries continue to ravage the remaining populations of slave labor.

Marketing teams have reportedly issued warnings to prepare investors for possible production problems, which could force the company to procure more expensive American-made goods, with the increased costs being passed through to consumers.

"At some point Walmart may have to purchase locally and raise prices, as un-American as that sounds," Waybill said.

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.