From "Watching the Waterfront," by William Finnegan, in The New Yorker, June 19, 2006:
The largest American importer by far is Wal-Mart. Last year, it brought seven hundred thousand container units through the green lane into the country [green lane ships are much less like to be stopped and searched by port authorities]. The rise of the big-box retailers, with their global network of suppliers, has caused a shift in power in the international shipping business away from the steamship lines and terminal operators, and towards the importers. What is more, companies like Wal-Mart have been actively working against stronger port- and container-security laws since shortly after the September 11th terror attacks.
We can buy insanely inexpensive goods made a world away because of cheap labor, the efficiency of container shipping-trucking, and because big-box stores don't have to wait around to be inspected. I don't feel good about that on any level. Except, I guess, when I need some insanely cheap goods.