It seems to me that at the root of the problem you see is the fact that corporations are not owned by the people who work in them. Corporations exist for one purpose only: to turn the efforts of a large number of people into profits for a few.
If you’re not familiar with the Mondragon System you might like to read about it; it presents an alternative to capitalist-based financing and ownership while preserving the attributes of free-enterprise and competition which are vital to efficiency and progress.
This is such a difficult subject for me because I see both sides of the argument. Ultimately, it may be in our best interest long term to learn to deal with the global economy and the inequities it creates. We simply don’t have the control over people in other countries and may never be able to “compete” in an open market as long as salaries garner such a large percentage of the cost of goods and we continue to have one of the highest standards of living in the world. As one interviewee mentioned in the Wal-Mart article, we need to constantly be exploring new products and markets where our workforce and expertise can excel and which cannot be easily comoditized by foreign competition.
I also think that public companies who appear to be more beholden to their shareholders rather than employees and customers will continue to make short-sighted decisions all in the name of “growth” and short-term profits which often cause their demise in the long term. That’s what I got out of the article. After all: “The gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart became a devastating success, giving Vlasic strong sales and growth numbers–but slashing its profits by millions of dollars”. How can that be considered a success? It almost sounds like a pyramid scheme where people are rewarded for short-term growth but in the end those that remain lose their job.