Challenging times for IKEA, the sugar industry, an
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Challenging times for IKEA, the sugar industry, an

Paul Holmes

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is coming in for a lot of scrutiny over this story in the LA Times, which essentially makes the case that the company provides lower pay and benefits to worker in a Virginia factory than to those in the company’s domestic market. If the company was exploiting lax labor laws in a developing country, I’d have some sympathy with the complaints. But the labor laws we have in the US are labor laws that Americans have chosen, by voting for people who are quite open about their belief that lax labor laws are a good thing. If we don’t like foreign companies exploiting our workers, it’s entirely within our power to stop it. I spoke with some folks yesterday who suggested that the sugar industry must be extremely concerned about this article in The New York Times magazine, which asks “Is Sugar Toxic?” (The story is a little more balanced than the headline, but only a little.) I guess it’s possible that we are approaching some kind of tipping point, but the evidence against sugar has been mounting for decades now, to little discernible effect. My guess is that the sugar industry remains pretty confident that it has the political establishment in its pocket and that there’s little immediate risk of any real action. The latest Gallup poll shows Americans believe just about everyone has too much power (except the military and organized religion!), but if you’re in the corporate public relations business you probably ought to be a little concerned about the fact that the three institutions at the top of the “too much power” list are lobbyists (71 percent say they have too much), major corporations (67 percent) and banks and financial institutions (also 67 percent).
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