I read Arlene Jones’ column last week with interest and some amusement. Why is she so astonished that a multinational, multirich corporation like Wal-Mart would have any scruples about manipulating public opinion? Corporations like these pay billions of dollars a year doing just that.

It’s called marketing, and included in this all-too-benign label, is advertising and public relations. But they’re not the only ones. Every time we approach a new round of elections, we hear candidates describing how they’re following the desires of the “American people.” Never mind that the same American people are all for the war and absolutely against it; they’re totally for same-sex marriages and completely against it. They’re totally for a living wage and couldn’t care less about it. And yet each politician faces the camera with all the earnestness of a newly canonized saint and declares he/she knows what the American people want.

One thing I haven’t heard a lot about in this “Wal-Mart-come-to-town” controversy is that we who live in this community are delighted to have a place where we can buy the things we need (and much more often, simply want), at prices we can afford.

The area where Wal-Mart is now located includes Cook Brothers, Home Depot, Marshall’s, Wright Brothers and, if plans don’t fizzle, a new Aldi Supermarket, as well as a Menard’s, all within two blocks of one another. And we even Hobo’s is just a few blocks farther away. What a mecca for those in our community who struggle to put food on their tables, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads. If not a living wage, then the next best thing is the abiltiy to make our barely-living wages stretch a bit farther.

So, do we opt for the kind of socialism we’ve never been able to achieve anywhere in this world, or do we make this flawed capitalism work to our advantage? Within our capitalist society, we have the power to tax corporations in order that we may meet the needs of their own workers. If they’re unwilling to do so, bureaucratic legislation will have to step in (what an alternative!). And if our “good citizen” corporations jump our borders to exploit foreign labor, our capitalist government can respond with a stiff tariff.

Maybe it’s time we persuaded our representatives to quit being “oas” (Puerto Rican for soft poo), and start fighting for the poor.

Art Cabn