Thursday, January 05, 2006

Terese Berceau - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Some of you might remember Democratic State Representative Terese Berceau from one of my previous posts, where I pointed out that she received a "clean environment" award from the Sierra Club, while at the same time owning between $5,000 and $50,000 in stock in Exxon Mobil. Of course, the Sierra Club was part of a group called "Exxpose Exxon," who called Exxon"deceptive" and "irresponsible," and said Exxon "intentionally put its own profits above a clean environment and the health of America’s families."

Undeterred, Berceau is back better than ever today with her press release ripping Wal-Mart for attempting to sell goods at a low cost. She blames Wal-Mart for playing hardball with Rubbermaid, which lost a contract with Wal-Mart because they couldn't provide their goods for a low enough cost. In her release, she says:

"Wal-Mart’s obsession for ever lower cost, came at a dear cost to Madison jobs," she added. "Wal-Mart has grown from an economic player into an economic plague. Sure, you can buy some cheaper plastic item at Wal-Mart, but the lower cost results in lower wages and fewer benefits for their employees, and the loss of Main Street businesses and American jobs, as larger competitors and suppliers are forced to ship jobs overseas in order to compete. As a community, we end up paying for Wal-Mart’s low cost in other costly ways.

"Government and business leaders need to get serious about dealing with the harmful effects on our economy, our communities, and our citizens as a result of Wal-Mart’s corporate bullying and monopolistic muscle," said Berceau. "It’s time to quit blaming government regulation, taxes, unions and worker demands for the loss of local jobs. Here, we can place the blame where it truly lies - Wal-Mart."

Wow, that sounds pretty serious. I bet with all that venom against Wal-Mart, Terese Berceau wouldn't want anything to do with contributing to Wal-Mart's evil practices of providing low prices and forcing jobs overseas. Well, it appears I would be wrong.

According to her "Statement of Economic Interest" report filed with the State Ethics Board, Berceau owns between $5,000 and $50,000 each in both the Fidelity Contrafund and the T. Rowe Price International Growth and Income Fund. According to the prospectuses for each of these funds, they together own nearly $25 million in Wal Mart de Mexico Series V stock. This is stock that Berceau is personally profiting from - and to make it worse, it is ownership in Wal-Mart's Mexico operations! You think Wal-Mart pays its employees poorly here? Go down to Mexico - they probably pay their employees with tree bark.

What's even more disturbing is Berceau's apparent shock that businesses actually engage in the free market. This from someone that, according to her ethics statement, owns between $115,000 and $1.15 million in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and who apparently doesn't know how commerce works. Either she's from another planet, or she's just being disingenuous for a cheap press hit. Just about every business she invests in engages in the same type of tough price negotiation that Wal-Mart does in order to keep their prices down and their products moving.

Look, nobody likes businesses and their employees suffering. But businesses either closing or reorganizing is a vital part of our free market. The market values efficiency and low cost, and those businesses that can't provide it need to adapt. If we kept inefficient businesses running, all the lefties would cry that we're giving them "corporate welfare" to stay afloat. Yet they advocate more and more regulation of businesses that increase their fixed costs, and whine when those regulations push employers overseas to save money.

And they never look at it from the perspective of the consumer - it ain't people from Shorewood Hills shopping at Wal-Mart. It's people that need the costs savings on diapers and toilet paper to scrape by. She should try going to a Wal-Mart one of these days - it's not exactly the Nakoma Country Club crowd shopping in there. In fact, since she's a part owner, she should be treated like royalty.

I've written about State Democrats' Wal-Mart hypocrisy before, and this is just one more example to throw on the pile.

So don't thank Wal-Mart for those job losses, Terese Berceau. Thank YOU.