Balls to the Wal

Robert Greenwald's new documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price arrived in the mail last week, and even before getting a chance to pop it in the DVD player, I discover, courtesy of National Review's Byron York, that the heartwarming opening scene is basically a con: You're introduced to the owners of a mom and pop store putatively driven out of business by a new Wal-Mart... except it turns out that the place closed months before the Wal-Mart opened, and (as the owner himself describes it) for reasons having nothing to do with Sam Walton's latest borg cube. Cafe Hayek, meanwhile, rounds up their greatest Wal-Mart hits and points to Sebastian Mallaby's defense of the superstore in The Washington Post. Drawing on the work of NYU's Jason Furman, Mallaby argues that even if you accept critics' estimates of the extent to which Wal-Mart depresses wages, that's dwarfed—by about a factor of ten—by the vastly greater savings benefit the store provides poor consumers. You can watch Furman himself debate Wal-Mart critics at the Center for American Progress here.

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  • ||

    In the early 90s Time magazine came to my little town and did the same thing, even going so far as to ask people to move their cars on a Saturday in order to make the downtown look empty. They also conviniently took the picture on the side of the square opposite of a Walmart competitor located downtown (and still in operation). This all in a town of 2000 people in NW Missouri (Albany).
    Being in highschool at the time it was one of a number of things that got me to thinking,"Hey, maybe you really can't believe what you read or see on t.v."

  • ||

    Julian, can you explain why a conservative -- much less a libertarian -- would defend a corporation that is the recipient of so much public money and special favors?

  • ||

    Realish,

    You can defend the company against government efforts to harm it while also lambasting the government (and the company) for the special favors. BTW, in no way can it be said in this write-up that Julian is defending those special favors. Let's not do a thoreau here.

  • ||

    Is it me or are the people complaining Wal-mart charges too little the same who complain that gas stations charge too much?

    Oh, and make sure Thoreau is here before you start insulting him.

  • ||

    Realish - McDonald's receives subsidies - that doesn't make Morgan Spurlock correct in any of his assertions. Likewise with this one.

    John Tierney wrote an outstanding article about the movie today and tore it to pieces, including quotes from some Amish folks buying diapers and such at Wal Mart. They have an entire Amish section at the Wal-Mart in question. Buried behind Times Select, unfortunately, and I'm not payin' $50 to read John Tierney.

  • ||

    Eryk Boston,

    Wal-Mart works as a symbol for liberals and anti-capitalists generally. They really haven't thought through why its a symbol, etc.

    A thoreau is when someone states that because you are defending Wal-Mart in a particular instance that means you defend Wal-Mart in all instances.

  • ||

    Shorter Mallaby: "Wal-Mart employees may never cross an income quintile, but at least they won't starve!"

  • ||

    Adam,

    It costs $50 to subscribe to Times Select? Is that yearly? Monthly? A one-time fee?

  • ||

    Is it me or are the people complaining Wal-mart charges too little the same who complain that gas stations charge too much?

    I would agree... They seem to be the ones that think all "Goliath" corporations are bad. It also seems to me that the people most "hurt" by Wal-Mart (i.e. those whose jobs have been lost to free trade) are the most frequent patrons of the store. But, I've only been to Wal-Mart a few times... the place makes me claustrophobic.

  • ||

    Since Hakluyt can tell us all what motivates the 100 million or so Americans who hate Wal Mart, what's a little speculation on what Thoreau would say?

  • ||

    I can't keep up with which megacorporation I'm supposed to be hating these days. OK, it's Walmart now, right? Was't it Microsoft until recently? Maybe someone could come up with a program for those of us who have a hard time keeping up with the latest fashions?

  • ||

    Eryk:

    Good thought. I wonder what the answer is to oil companies who are paying bonus checks to workers this year with 'windfall profits'. Profits good? Profits bad? Gimme, Gimme, Gimme?

  • ||

    Oeconomis,

    The liberal bogeyman comes in many forms. There was a time when GM and United Fruit were the most prominently hated corporations. Corporations being the personification of evil, etc. after all.

  • ||

    For those interested in a closer look at the numbers:

    http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/001791.html

  • ||

    Geez, Jennifer, you make it sound like undercutting your competition by using labor that has Big Brother keeping them in line (in China, undocumented immigrants) is somehow wrong.

    What the hell kind of capitalist are you?

  • ||

    The Agitator has an excerpt of the Tierney article.

  • ||

    joe is now doing a thoreau.

  • ||

    What the hell kind of capitalist are you?

    Deending on who you talk to, either the good kind who opposes serfdom and wage slavery, or the bad kind who opposes serfdom and wage slavery.

  • ||

    Wait, I hate Walmart and I'm neither an anti-capitalist nor a leftist. What do I think Hak?

    Before you throw stones at thoreau's house for making generalizations, you should check out your glass shack.

  • ||

    Todd Fletcher,

    I found this quote especially interesting:

    The average Wal-Mart customer earns $35,000 a year, compared with $50,000 at Target and $74,000 at Costco.

  • ||

    Wait, I hate Walmart and I'm neither an anti-capitalist nor a leftist. What do I think Hak?

    Before you throw stones at thoreau's house for making generalizations, you should check out your glass shack.

  • ||

    Mo,

    I'd say if you don't like Wal-Mart because of its nefarious dealings with government that's fine. If you don't like them because they just happen to be a big, successful corporation then that is another matter.

    I find this sort of question helpful: if you did away with X, or you had the power to do so, would you replace it with something, and if you did, what would you replace it with? Since you hate Wal-Mart what is your vision of a world without Wal-Mart? Are you expecting Target or Carefour to take its place?

  • ||

    Wait, I hate Walmart and I'm neither an anti-capitalist nor a leftist.

    But you're an Ay-rab. Booga booga booga!

  • ||

    Hak - $7.95 a month, $49.95 a year...14 day free trial, cancel any time.

    And joe, when exactly did Wal-Mart keep "undocumented immigrants" "in line"? They hired a subcontractor who used 245 illegals as janitors.

    Out of 1.2 million workers on the Wal-Mart payroll, that's....0.02% of their workforce.

    ugh! walmartbad! oogha.

  • ||

    Jennifer is my kind of capitalist.

    As to the post:
    the heartwarming opening scene is basically a con: You're introduced to the owners of a mom and pop store putatively driven out of business by a new Wal-Mart... except it turns out that the place closed months before the Wal-Mart opened, and (as the owner himself describes it) for reasons having nothing to do with Sam Walton's latest borg cube.

    That's pretty funny.

  • ||

    Funny, Wal-Mart seems to be a bit like porn: everyone condemns it but somehow it makes billions.

  • ||

    Shorter Mallaby: "Wal-Mart employees may never cross an income quintile, but at least they won't starve!"

    Is that supposed to be bad? If they cross an income quintile, and starve, would that be better?

  • ||

    Thoreau, that is indeed hfunny, but remember: just because this one guy told lies about Wal-Mart, doesn't mean everyone who tells negative stories about Wal-Mart is a liar.

    I think it's been three years since I last spent a penny in such a place. And even that was when Jeff and I were stranded in the wilds of Bumfuck, North Carolina, and Wal-Mart was basically the only game in town.

  • ||

    I tried to post this, it got eaten by the server, I waited a little while, it still isn't here, so I'm trying again:

    There are 3 types of criticisms that I hear against Walmart:

    1) Strawman: "Big, evil, successful corporation!" This one can be safely ignored.

    2) Libertarian: "Recipient of too many gov't favors." I hope we all would be receptive to that criticism.

    3) The tough one: "Treats workers like shit." Now, just how bad is too bad can sometimes be a complicated question, but hopefully we can discuss such allegations without anybody accusing us of saying "There oughta be a law!" One might prefer to act on such allegations simply by not shopping there. Yet, for whatever reason, people who show sympathy for such allegations on this forum tend to be accused of saying "There oughta be a law!"

  • ||

    One more time...

    Mo,

    Oh, and there is nothing per se wrong with generalizations. Its erroneous ones (like the one I pointed out) which are problematic.

  • ||

    Yet, for whatever reason, people who show sympathy for such allegations on this forum tend to be accused of saying "There oughta be a law!"


    Hell, just obey the laws which already exist. For example, Wal-Mart's business of locking employees in its stores overnight (sometimes when the employees weren't even on the clock) is already covered by laws dealing with false imprisonment. And I can't think of any valid libertarian arguments against such laws.

    It's damned lucky that the overnight-lockdown story reached the media through ordinary journalism, rather than via some Triangle-Shirtwaist style fire tragedy.

  • ||

    One more time, with feeling...

    "Treats workers like shit" is such a subjective statement as to be nearly meaningless.

    Yet, for whatever reason, people who show sympathy for such allegations on this forum tend to be accused of saying "There oughta be a law!"

    Because many of the same people complaining about Wal-Mart arguing for all manner of regulations throughout just about every aspect of our economic, social, etc. lives.


    Kurt,

    Sounds like a call for things like a a "guaranteed job" and heavy government intervention into wage rates.

  • ||

    thoreau - #3) there ought to be a law. In my experience, that's because everyone I know who attacks Wal-Mart on these grounds proceeds directly to that solution (or has already accepted it as axiomatic). Perhaps a generalization, but that's how humans work (using generalizations that is). And, as I said, in my experience, it's an almost perfect generalization - present company excepted of course, yadda-yadda-yadda.
    -Karl

  • ||

    Yet, for whatever reason, people who show sympathy for such allegations on this forum tend to be accused of saying "There oughta be a law!"


    Hell, just obey the laws which already exist. For example, Wal-Mart's business of locking employees in its stores overnight (sometimes when the employees weren't even on the clock) is already covered by laws dealing with false imprisonment. And I can't think of any valid libertarian arguments against such laws.

    It's damned lucky that the overnight-lockdown story reached the media through ordinary journalism, rather than via some Triangle-Shirtwaist style fire tragedy.

  • ||

    I spent a large portion of my life in rural Kansas the heart of Wall-Mart country. First, most of the local businesses the anti-Wall Mart people lament the loss of so much deserve to go out of business. Before Wall-Mart, the selection and pricing of goods available to people in small towns was terrible. Further, they can talk all they want about Wall-Mart's cheap wages, but I can tell you from experience there is no cheaper more exploitive person on earth than the typical small business owner. That mom and pop running the local store these people are so proud of are ussually paying their help next to nothing (assumeing that they haven't hired an illegal immigrant at truely slave wages to do the job).

    I have yet to meet one person who was anti-Wall Mart who was not at least upper middle class and did not live in a clean tidy area of a city or a suburb full of Gaps, Whole Foods, and specialty stores of every variety and of course Target, which does the same thing as WallMart in a higher end less tacky way and suspiciously seems to avoid these people's scorn. In short, the anti-Wall-Mart people are invariably the last people who would ever need to shop there. Further, if there is one place today that is somewhat similiar to the pre-Wall-Mart days in rural America it is the inner city. Try finding a decent grocery store or clothing store poor areas of a big city? Its nearly impossible and the people who live there pay a price by having to either pay higher prices for a lousy selection at the local stores or if they have the means go to the suburbs to shop. It sucks and the anti-WallMart brigade wants to save the people from WallMart and ensure that it continues to suck.

    I have yet to see one rational, compelling argument explaining how Wall-Mart hurts its customers or any solid economic figures explaining how WallMart has been anything but a boon for the poor and middle class. Like most things with liberals these days, the anti-WallMart crusade is about culture and snobery more than anything else. These people think that Wall-Mart is tacky and beneath them and they don't like the culture of the people who shop there, so therefore there must be something evil and sinister about it.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    Without even that law on the books it would likely fall under the common law tort of false imprisonment.

  • Kevin Carson||

    joe,

    Next you'll be criticizing United Fruit Company for its association with, you know, the CIA and death squads, and all. You're just trying to get a place at the librull kewl kids table, aren't you?

    By the way, I think this argument:

    "...Mallaby argues that even if you accept critics' estimates of the extent to which Wal-Mart depresses wages, that's dwarfed�by about a factor of ten�by the vastly greater savings benefit the store provides poor consumers...."

    may contain more than a little survivor bias.

  • ||

    Can I just point out, without being accused of pedantry or irrelevance, that misspelling "Wal-Mart" fourteen times in three paragraphs, complete with a variety of spacing and hyphenation options, is absolutely fucking breathtaking?

    Can I also point out that saying "Mom & Pop stores deserve to go out of business because they mistreat employees," in a post criticizing people who criticize Wal-Mart for employee mistreatment, takes more cognitive dissonance than being a Log Cabin Republican?

  • ||

    I have yet to meet one person who was anti-Wall Mart who was not at least upper middle class and did not live in a clean tidy area of a city or a suburb full of Gaps, Whole Foods, and specialty stores

    Hi! I'm Jennifer. I'm anti-Wal-Mart, middle-middle class, and live in a run-down, working-class city within convenient walking distance of Family Dollar, Ocean State Job Lot, a 99-cent store and a "Discount Food Outlet" with a produce section that truly frightens me.

    I have yet to see one rational, compelling argument explaining how Wall-Mart hurts its customers

    Who here accused them of hurting customers? Most complaints involve hurting their employees.

    Like most things with liberals these days, the anti-WallMart crusade is about culture and snobery more than anything else

    Yes, we liberals are all motivated by snobbery and dislike of the lower classes, just like you conservatives are all motivated by hatred of independent women and uppity negroes. Bullshit, in other words.

  • ||

    Julian, can you explain why a conservative -- much less a libertarian -- would defend a corporation that is the recipient of so much public money and special favors?

    In what way, specifically, is Walmart the recipient of public money?

    ...and what favors are we talking about specifically? Are you complaining about the favors or the exclusivity of the favors? ...you big conservative libertarian you.

  • ||

    Kevin Carson,

    The history of UFC/Chiquita and how it was intertwined with the coercive power of the government in the U.S. and Central America is fascinating.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    * A proportion of Wal-Mart employees get aid from the government. Some argue that this portion is inordinately high.

    * Wal-Mart gets sweet deals (like other companies) from local and state governments vis a vis taxes on land, road improvements, etc.

    Those are two of the most common complaints. There are a few others.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    As the article points out though, people who are on welfare who work is one of the things that liberals champion, so crticizing Wal-Mart for having workers who are on welfare is a bit disingenuous.

  • ||

    I have yet to meet one person who was anti-Wall Mart who was not at least upper middle class and did not live in a clean tidy area of a city or a suburb full of Gaps, Whole Foods, and specialty stores.

    As I recall, there were plenty of people in Inglewood, AKA South Central Los Angeles, that came out big against Wal-Mart.

  • fyodor||

    Personally, I don't give a kerblam whether Wal-Mart is good or evil or in-between. If and when the company breaks laws I think are good laws, it should be prosecuted. Otherwise not. If governments give it favors I don't think it should get, I would oppose that practice, though I would think it would make most sense to take that up with the government in question. I don't think there's an individual alive who's all good or all bad; why should we expect conglomerations of individuals to be any less complex?

  • ||

    Hi! I'm Jennifer. I'm anti-Wal-Mart, middle-middle class, and live in a run-down, working-class city within convenient walking distance of Family Dollar, Ocean State Job Lot, a 99-cent store and a "Discount Food Outlet" with a produce section that truly frightens me.

    Well Jennifer since you are fortuneate enough to live in an area that has decent places to shop, why do you feel the need to make sure that people who live in places that don't are deprived of such? You make my point. You live in an area where you can get what you need, but want to save the rest of us from having the same luxury. Yes, that would make you a snob and an elitist, despite your pretensions to the contrary.

    Can I also point out that saying "Mom & Pop stores deserve to go out of business because they mistreat employees," in a post criticizing people who criticize Wal-Mart for employee mistreatment, takes more cognitive dissonance than being a Log Cabin Republican?

    My point is not to say that Wall Mart is so great, but to say that it is better than no job or the jobs that are offered by the Mom and Pop stores people like Jennifer seem to think are so wonderful. Regardless of what job you have, you are lot better off having a decent place to shop than you are without it. Go ask Jennifer about all the wonderful places she has to shop and how great it is.

  • ||

    Sorry, the above post was not Jennifer. I don't know how my computer does that, but it really pisses me off.

  • ||

    And I had such a thing for the Chiquita Banana Chick. I was always happy to see her.

    But it's OK. I have the H&R Reasonettes to dream about, now.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    There was a similar effort in Brattleboro, Vt. that went down to defeat. I think the leftists who sponsored the effort to stop all box stores in the area were flat out stunned.

  • ||

    Oh, and there is nothing per se wrong with generalizations. Its erroneous ones (like the one I pointed out) which are problematic.

    Nope, all generalizations are bad.

    All of them. ;)

  • ||

    John,

    Lots of businesses actually spring up around Wal-Marts to take advantage of the customers go there. A lot of those businesses are individually owned franchises and the like.

  • ||

    I have a couple of friends who went to work for Wall-Mart in high school and now make more money than I do as store managers. You would be shocked at what the top guy at one of the big stores makes. They are a nasty place to work in a lot of ways I am sure, but most employers suck and most jobs suck. Why is Wall Mart so worthy of such derision? I bet the workers at the places Jennifer mentions don't do any better and might in fact do worse than the workers at Wall Mart. I will bet even more that Jennifer has no idea what they make and has never even considered how those workers do compared to Wall-Mart workers. Why? Are those workers not worth consideration? Are exploited Wall-Mart workers more worthy of compassion? Or, perhaps, could Wall-Mart just be tacky and not cool? I am betting on the last.

  • ||

    Well Jennifer since you are fortuneate enough to live in an area that has decent places to shop

    You don't know what Family Dollar, Ocean State Job Lot and 99-cent stores are, do you?

  • ||

    Jennifer, my mother is lower-middle-class at best (I'm surprised if she makes $23,000/yr), and lives in rural NE Ohio, and she doesn't want a Wal-Mart in her town, either. They don't lack for shopping or competition, even though the township is pretty small -- there's a Super K-Mart, several grocery stores, and lots of other shopping, plus a major regional mall within a half-hour drive. She feels like a Wal-Mart, particularly in the location they want to put it in, would make traffic significantly worse, and would ruin the character of the area around it. Those may or may not be good arguments, but she hardly fits John's stereotype.

  • Wintermute||

    Class envy on a libertarian blog? Tsk tsk.

    Despite all the piling-on attempts from some on the left, I haven't seen enough valid criticisms of Wal-Mart to make it a good issue to run on.

  • ||

    Phil,

    If she actually lives there and doesn't want the traffic, good for her. I am not saying every Wall-Mart should be built. My point is more aimed at people who would never shop there and show up from out of town to save the locals. There are lots of those. If the people in your mother's town don't want one, good for them. Her objection seems to be more to that store and its location, not to the company in general, which is fine.

  • ||

    Or, perhaps, could Wall-Mart just be tacky and not cool? I am betting on the last.


    Have you noticed, dear, that the only person here accusing Wal-mart of being tacky and uncool is you?

  • ||

    I like Wal-Mart because it has a wide selection of products at some of the lowest prices around. And it's conveniently located and open all the time. Do people actually go shopping for basic items while thinking: I need to know how this store treats its employees? Or, I can't shop here because this corporation gets special treatment from the government. Who cares?

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    I think those stores suck, but you seemed to like them in your post and be happy with them. Frankly, if they are so bad, maybe you do need a Wall-Mart.

  • ||

    Do people actually go shopping for basic items while thinking: I need to know how this store treats its employees? Or, I can't shop here because this corporation gets special treatment from the government. Who cares?


    I do, and thus I choose not to give them my business. I am also willing to explain to others why I feel as I do. So what's the problem?

  • ||

    Wal-Mart gets sweet deals (like other companies) from local and state governments vis a vis taxes on land, road improvements, etc.

    The exclusivity of some of those arrangements might be complaint-worthy. ...but to my eye, complaining that industry isn't paying more in taxes doesn't do much for the original commenter's apparent libertarian/conservative argument either.

    ...even complaining about Wal-Mart goin' to a city (or county) and tellin' 'em that they can bring in a tax revenue generating machine if only the city 'll kick in some road improvements up front doesn't wash. Companies that bring in larger tax revenue streams have more to bargain with when they go to the city. Isn't this as it should be?

    ...Most local governments (especially in semi-rural areas) would be foolish to turn away a long term, tax generating machine like Wal-Mart just because it didn't want to pony up some road improvements.

  • ||

    I think those stores suck, but you seemed to like them in your post and be happy with them. Frankly, if they are so bad, maybe you do need a Wall-Mart.

    If, in context, you think I meant those stores to sound attractive, then your reading comprehension may be on par with your spelling. By the way, I have a Wal-Mart just a few miles away, and I never go there.

  • ||

    Well, Jennifer, I don't shop at Wall-Mart either, but that is only because I don't have to. You apparently don't have to either. Why do you feel the need to deprive other people of that choice by objecting to the entire company?

  • ||

    I can't believe this site is called "Reason: Free Minds and Free Markets." Half of the idiots posting here believe in neither. You anti-Wal-Mart goons are showing your true stripes. Unless Wal-Mart is either directly sticking guns in the backs of its employees, customers or so-called "third world" workers who make the products that populate its shelves, or having governments do it on their behalf, there is almost nothing to complain about this company. Don't like Wal-Mart? Don't fucking shop there and stut your goddamn self-aggrandizing, elitist faces. There is no force in either being employed by Wal-Mart or shopping there. The only force involved is the snobbish, xenophobic cultural elitists and the people duped by such assholes that keep Wal-Mart out of communities.

  • ||

    BTW, Jennifer, you never answered my question about the wages of the workers at the stores that you shop? What is the average wage for the workers at the stores you mentioned and how do they compare to Wall-Mart? I assume you have an answer since you claim to be so concerned about the welfare of the workers at the places you shop.

  • ||

    Why do you feel the need to deprive other people of that choice by objecting to the entire company?

    So you are saying that I must never object to a company, because if I do I am in effect attacking that company's customers? Wow.

  • ||

    In my experience, that's because everyone I know who attacks Wal-Mart on these grounds proceeds directly to that solution (or has already accepted it as axiomatic). Perhaps a generalization, but that's how humans work (using generalizations that is). And, as I said, in my experience, it's an almost perfect generalization - present company excepted of course, yadda-yadda-yadda.

    I understand that. If this were DU, then by all means accuse people of thinking that way. But when somebody criticizes a company on H&R, unless that person specifically calls for a law the default assumption should be that the poster is not trying to say "There oughta be a law!"

    I don't really know enough about the anti-WalMart complaints to know how valid they are. I'm just tired of seeing the critics on this forum treated like strawmen. If an H&R poster doesn't call for a law, don't accuse him/her of calling for one!

    That's all.

  • ||

    Don't like Wal-Mart? Don't fucking shop there and stut your goddamn self-aggrandizing, elitist faces

    Oh, come on, Jamie.

  • ||

    I don't care who does and doesn't shop at Wal-Mart. I buy shit there every once in a while because a) it's cheap and b) it's right by the ice rink where I play hockey 3-4 times a week, so it's convenient and in my face.

    It's your perogitive to shop there or not, but for people to call it 'evil' or whatnot is fairly ludicrous. Every company exploits their workers to some degree, but I would imagine that with employee discounts (assuming Wal-Mart gives those) and it's cheap-ass prices, I'm sure people who work there don't necessarily feel exploited.

    And it's really a matter of perception in a lot of ways, isn't it? I mean, Jennifer (and I'm not picking on you, just using an example), when you were an exotic dancer, I know a lot of people who would have considered you 'exploited', but I doubt you felt that way, so were you really exploited?

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    You are attacking their customers if you actively try to close down the company and keep them from building new stores. Aren't you then depriving their customers of the choice to shop there? Also, I am still waiting on an answer to my question. My guess is that you have no idea what those people make and only object to Wall-Mart because you don't like the company not because they pay any worse than the places you shop.

  • ||

    Did it again. I am really sorry about that Jennifer.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    Good and valid points. I'm just saying what some of the basic criticisms are. The criticisms tend to be undercut when examined.

  • ||

    Er, no offense, but this is kind of a stupid argument. If objecting to a company means that one chooses not to shop there, how could anyone have a problem with that?

    I happen to think that most of the anti Walmart arguments are fallacious or just incomprehensible, but who on this forum really wants to say that you must shop there? Zoiks.

  • ||

    Lowdog, me dancing is an entirely different topic here. Why is it that if I say "I dislike a lot of things Wal-Mart does to its employees, and as a result I will not shop there, and here are some of the reasons why," everybody gets so ticked off? What, I'm required to like, support and shop at every successful company to establish my libertarian bonafides? I doubt y'all truly believe that, but sometimes you certainly act as though you do.

  • Jadagul||

    I think one of the problems with the Wal-Mart fight is a lack of credibility from Wal-Mart's critics. I know I tend to ignore environmentalist groups when they start complaining about the newest eco-disaster, because they've been wrong and outright stupid so many times before. I do the same thing with the Wal-Mart critics: even if they have valid points, those points are buried in so much BS that I just start tuning them out after a while. When they finally get to the good points, I'm not listening, and if I am I'm unlikely to believe them.

    Also, Jennifer, the dynamic John describes is hardly the only dynamic over Wal-Mart placement, but it is a dynamic. My father was working with a company that wanted to build a big-box store in a poor district of urban New Orleans. Most of the people who lived in the district supported it; some of the storeowners in the district, and many people who lived in other areas of the city, strongly opposed letting the store move in. If I'm remembering the details correctly, the store eventually got shot down by public opposition despite strong support from the people who actually lived there and would have shopped and worked there.

  • ||

    I can't believe this site is called "Reason: Free Minds and Free Markets." Half of the idiots posting here believe in neither.

    Half of the people that post here aren't libertarians, necessarily. We've got all kinds. Some of 'em come here to debate libertarians. ...and yes, some libertarian leaning whatevers don't necessarily tow the party line on every issue--but thank goodness for their support.

    ...So welcome to the mix, Jamie, we need all the semi-respectful and persuasive help we can get.

  • ||

    John,

    You perfectly illustrate my earlier point: Wal-Mart is an unexamined symbol for the anti crowd.

  • ||

    Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    Wal*Mart didn't invent interstate highways, import subsidies, or Chinese factories. Every other competitor had and has the same access to these things. Wal*Mart just used them the most efficiently.

    The real problem, if you disagree with these things, isn't Wal*Mart. Any other large retailer has to play the same game. In fact, anyone who wants to build much of anything bigger than a doghouse has to play local government like a fiddle. The real problem is the state powers that allow these things to happen.

    - Josh

  • ||

    Jennifer, how can you live with yourself, knowing about all those working people who have plunged to their doom trying to scramble over the wall of words you've installed around Wally World?

    You heartless BITCH!

    "or having governments do it on their behalf" So, in other words, there are plenty of things to complain about regarding Wal Mart. Glad you agree.

  • fyodor||

    Lowdog,

    You're giving Jennifer an easy out there. Actually, most workers hate their employers. If we closed all companies that are hated by their workers (or even refused to patronnize them) we'd all be freezing and starving.

  • ||

    In my small hometown, municipal services dedicated to Wal-Mart cost the city $40,000 a year more than what Wal-Mart contributes to the coffers in sales, real estate, and personal property taxes. The company engages ruthlessly in corporate espionage, pays their workers the same crappy wages other retailers in the area do, and the profits largely go out of the community. Most people still shop there from time to time,

  • ||

    The one practice that I have heard Wal-Mart engaging in, that if true is pretty low, is when for example they agree to buy something perishable like lettuce for 50 cents a head and when the truck gets to the store, they say, "sorry, but we're only going to be paying 30 cents a head" and the lettuce guy is left to either accept a lower price than he expected or let the food rot in the truck. They don't bother to sue because of the time and cost involved.

    This may be a wal-mart legend on snopes or something. Has anyone heard of something like this before?

    My biggest gripe with Wal-Mart is when they abandon an enormous building in a community and build an enormous building right next door and the community is left with a vacant eyesore which it can't get re-occupied.

  • ||

    If people want to disagree with Jennifer that's fine.

    Just make sure that you disagree with the Jennifer who's posting here, and not the Jennifer in your head.

  • ||

    All right, those of you who criticize me because I don't shop at Wal-Mart but do say "I don't like Wal-Mart": what is the proper libertarian way for me to express myself, if I do not like the way a company is behaving?

  • ||

    Jennifer - as I said, I wasn't arguing with your decision to not shop there...I could give a fuck less. I was simply trying to illustrate a point about being 'exploited' and, well, not. I think the individual is the only one who can decide that...sorry if I was being too forward.

    But we do seem to be arguing in circles here (on H&R? NOOOOOOO!). I don't think anyone is clamouring for laws to stop Wal-Mart from being in business. If they do something illegal, they should be prosecuted like any other entity. And if you don't want to shop at Wal-Mart, good for you. If you do, that's great, too.

  • ||

    Jadagul,

    If I'm remembering the details correctly, the store eventually got shot down by public opposition despite strong support from the people who actually lived there and would have shopped and worked there.

    In Vermont opposition to Wal-Mart is invariably strongest by lowlanders who own a second home in Vermont and come up for the leaves, skiing, etc. They have a vision of Vermont that want to preserve whether people who live in Vermont like it or not. There has been quite a backlash against this sort of behavior.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,
    Are you a Vermonter? I'm a temporary lowlander here myself, no one who hasn't lived in VT seems to use that phrase...

    On the topic of Wal*Mart, it's a big ass store full of cheap stuff. If you don't have a big bank account, what's not to like? If you think the quality of goods is no good like myself, don't shop there. I think Jennifer's attitude is exactly right; I don't know all the details of them exploiting their workers, but Wal*Mart's business model kind of depends on low overhead, including low wages for it's peons.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,
    Are you a Vermonter? I'm a temporary lowlander here myself, no one who hasn't lived in VT seems to use that phrase...

    On the topic of Wal*Mart, it's a big ass store full of cheap stuff. If you don't have a big bank account, what's not to like? If you think the quality of goods is no good like myself, don't shop there. I think Jennifer's attitude is exactly right; I don't know all the details of them exploiting their workers, but Wal*Mart's business model kind of depends on low overhead, including low wages for it's peons.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,
    Are you a Vermonter? I'm a temporary lowlander here myself, no one who hasn't lived in VT seems to use that phrase...

    On the topic of Wal*Mart, it's a big ass store full of cheap stuff. If you don't have a big bank account, what's not to like? If you think the quality of goods is no good like myself, don't shop there. I think Jennifer's attitude is exactly right; I don't know all the details of them exploiting their workers, but Wal*Mart's business model kind of depends on low overhead, including low wages for it's peons.

  • ||

    Here we go again...

    Lowdog,

    I don't think anyone is clamouring for laws to stop Wal-Mart from being in business.

    The "Stop Wal-Mart" campaigns do seem to be interested in putting Wal-Mart out of business.

    downstater,

    My biggest gripe with Wal-Mart is when they abandon an enormous building in a community and build an enormous building right next door and the community is left with a vacant eyesore which it can't get re-occupied.

    The couple of examples I can think where Wal-Mart left a smaller locale for a bigger one the smaller one was filled by another store.

  • ||

    Jennifer:
    Oh, come on, what?
    Joe:
    Cite your evidence, man. Show me whose government is forcing its citizens, at gunpoint, to work at Wal-Mart. Show me where the force is. Show me force. Show me where people are required by law, and at the point of a gun, to make the products that Wal-Mart sells.
    End subsidies for Wal-Mart? You bet. End favors for Wal-Mart? You bet. End special exemptions for Wal-Mart that aren't granted other companies? You bet.
    But end Wal-Mart? Why don't we just go rob the poor and middle class ourselves? All we need are the tools to break into double-wide trailers. Them poor folk ain't got home security systems. Yuk, yuk.

  • ||

    Years ago I had an internship at a Wal-Mart, and I think a lot of the issues with the company pose an interesting dilemma for a libertarian. It was my experience that the company's decision structure was very decentralized. It could be very empowering to these low-skilled employees, and I think helps explain the incredibly high number of rank & file employees who eventually make it to store management or higher. This is a very libertarian way of running a large organization.

    But, this creates some problems. When some jackass district manager bullies the store employees or a warehouse guy unfairly turns back a truck full of lettuce, it's just some guy being an asshole. And when you decentralize power, that means assholes get power, too. But, when these incidents happen, the reaction is "Oh, look what Wal-Mart does!" As libertarians, I think that's a dangerous direction to go.

    Another problem is that you're looking at a lot of rural, low-skilled, and low-education folks getting real opportunities for low-level managerial work. At the risk of sounding elitist, this labor pool is simply going to be more prone to sexism and abuse than the middle class college graduates who are judging them might be. But, again, some joe schmo with a high school education in Enid, Oklahoma is given the tools to run a multi-million $ operation at the local Wal-Mart, which is a great thing. But, he just can't find it within himself to work well with women, so he doesn't promote any women to management assistance positions. So, everyone yells that Wal-Mart is sexist.

    As with much of actual life, it seems to me that the problems are all tied up with the things we wanted to believe were the solutions. But dealing with that issue is not nearly as fun as going to watch a polemic with your buddies to get a good indignation buzz going, and then moving on with your life. So, we get silly movies like this, we all have a row about it, and we avoid as much as possible actually learning anything.

  • ||

    Speaking of commonly held beliefs deviod of facts, does anyone have statistics to back up the assumed "Wal-Mart is a good bargain" bit?

    Wal-Mart is famous for strategically placed loss-leaders (aka the "Blue Light Special"), or discounted goods sold at a loss, at the entrances to aisles that subtly suggests that all goods down the aisle are a bargain, even if they're not discounted. Target is quite good at this too.

    In my limited experience, prices are not, on a whole, lower at Wal-Mart (other than things like the famous no-brand name DVD's) than, say, at Target, Costco, or a regional superstore.

  • ||

    Years ago I had an internship at a Wal-Mart, and I think a lot of the issues with the company pose an interesting dilemma for a libertarian. It was my experience that the company's decision structure was very decentralized. It could be very empowering to these low-skilled employees, and I think helps explain the incredibly high number of rank & file employees who eventually make it to store management or higher. This is a very libertarian way of running a large organization.

    But, this creates some problems. When some jackass district manager bullies the store employees or a warehouse guy unfairly turns back a truck full of lettuce, it's just some guy being an asshole. And when you decentralize power, that means assholes get power, too. But, when these incidents happen, the reaction is "Oh, look what Wal-Mart does!" As libertarians, I think that's a dangerous direction to go.

    Another problem is that you're looking at a lot of rural, low-skilled, and low-education folks getting real opportunities for low-level managerial work. At the risk of sounding elitist, this labor pool is simply going to be more prone to sexism and abuse than the middle class college graduates who are judging them might be. But, again, some joe schmo with a high school education in Enid, Oklahoma is given the tools to run a multi-million $ operation at the local Wal-Mart, which is a great thing. But, he just can't find it within himself to work well with women, so he doesn't promote any women to management assistance positions. So, everyone yells that Wal-Mart is sexist.

    As with much of actual life, it seems to me that the problems are all tied up with the things we wanted to believe were the solutions. But dealing with that issue is not nearly as fun as going to watch a polemic with your buddies to get a good indignation buzz going, and then moving on with your life. So, we get silly movies like this, we all have a row about it, and we avoid as much as possible actually learning anything.

  • ||

    Randolph Carter,

    No, I'm a lowlander who has lived there and in NH and has friends who are grew up there and are incensed by lowlanders who visit telling them how to organize their lives. The perfect example of such to them is that damn statement two years ago about Vermont being an "endangered state."

  • ||

    Jebus! Sorry! although perhaps it should have been expected...

  • ||

    In my small hometown, municipal services dedicated to Wal-Mart cost the city $40,000 a year more than what Wal-Mart contributes to the coffers in sales, real estate, and personal property taxes.

    I question this.

    I question this on a number of accounts. I question the stats outright (maybe you have a reference?), and I question that Wal-Mart doesn't contribute to the local tax base by bringing traffic to other retailers in the area.

    I also suspect that Wal-Mart had to pay huge transportation mitigation fees, had to pay fees to supplement local schools, and I suspect they had to pay many more fees, rather than taxes, too--in the development stage--right up front.

    ...and I'm not sayin' you're doing the following, Serafina, but...

    I also question the logic that businesses are good or bad for a community based solely on how much tax revenue they generate. I'd hate to think we've come to the point that so many people think the primary purpose of business is to generate revenue for the state, but we have, haven't we?

  • ||

    Jamie, I say "come on" for your implication that the only reason someone could dislike Wal-mart is because that someone is self-aggrandizing and elitist. No--I just think they do a lot of scummy things to their employees and some of their suppliers, and I do not wish to give such a company my money.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    I'd hate to think we've come to the point that so many people think the primary purpose of business is to generate revenue for the state, but we have, haven't we?

    Yes, we unfortunately have.

  • ||

    dlc, the blu-light special is K-mart, and although I'm not sure if their prices are lower than other big box retailers on items like clothing, they corner the market on t-shirts with themes like "wolf howling at the moon" or "really angry dragon."

    Haklyut,
    I'm a college student here and the ridiculous things that students who are almost always from Palo Alto or Greenwich CT are always clamoring for things like town laws requiring "fair trade" coffee and zero C02 emissions standards. Reall pisses off the farmers and store owners who work here.

  • Viking Moose||

    "Actually, most workers hate their employers. If we closed all companies that are hated by their workers (or even refused to patronnize them) we'd all be freezing and starving."

    the mom-and-pop shop where i worked had a culture worthy of a michael moore documentary on enron. this myth of the noble mom and pop as the other half of the false dichotomy.

    don't like it? don't shop there. it doesn't mater the individual's perception. they just won't shop there. brava.

    mein gott. why don't we get into a heated argument about the weather, while we're at it. :)

  • Viking Moose||

    "Actually, most workers hate their employers. If we closed all companies that are hated by their workers (or even refused to patronnize them) we'd all be freezing and starving."

    the mom-and-pop shop where i worked had a culture worthy of a michael moore documentary on enron. this myth of the noble mom and pop as the other half of the false dichotomy.

    don't like it? don't shop there. it doesn't mater the individual's perception. they just won't shop there. brava. just realize that there are tons of other, small companies that might treat their employees shitty, too.

    mein gott. why don't we get into a heated argument about the weather, while we're at it. :)

  • ||

    Hakluyt - oh, there are anti Wal-Mart campaigns aimed at significantly hurting the company, to be sure, I was more speaking about posters here.

    Obviously, the libertarian solution is to vote with your dollars...if Wal-Mart is so insideous they'll stop attracting customers eventually and put themselves out of business.

  • ||

    ...(aka the "Blue Light Special"),...

    The "Blue Light Special" is or was a feature at Kmart.

    Wal-Mart does not have "specials". It has "every day low prices".

    John how many times does your spelling have to be corrected?

    Its W A [one] L[hyphen]M A R T

  • ||

    Jennifer, I never said the only reason people dislike Wal-Mart is because they're elitist. It just so happens that almost everyone I know who's opposed to Wally happens to be an elitist. If Wal-Mart does such "scummy things" to their employees on apparently such a scale as you believe, then after a while, few people would want to work there. As it is, every time a Wal-Mart moves in, hundreds if not thousands of people line up to apply. That should say something about people's alternatives in those areas. Where are the gripes about mom and pop stores and the "scummy" way they treat THEIR employees? People, going through their lives with a sense of entitlement to everything, tend to hate The Man, whether it's the neighbor man or the Wal-Mart man. It's just that employee dissatisfaction and anger over the local mom-and-pop outfit is diffuse and doesn't have the organized media/chicken-little representatives who are out there screaming about how evil those mom and pop stores are and getting headlines about their new "documentary."

  • ||

    Randolph Carter,

    Sounds about right.


    Lowdog,

    Sure. I totally agree. I don't shop at Auto Zone because of the Jesus items after all.

    _____________________

    As to the Wal-Mart spelling issue, writing it the way the now much maligned poster did is pretty common throughout the U.S.

  • ||

    My other current beef with a wal-mart in my area is their current TIF ultimatum. Of course, there no shortage or businesses guilty of this.

    The couple of examples I can think where Wal-Mart left a smaller locale for a bigger one the smaller one was filled by another store.

    That is great. I cannot recall any such examples myself. Consequently, I still hate it when that happens. The former store in my in-law's town has been a shell for close to 10 years. However, I think the local kids appreciate the open skateboard space.

  • ||

    Does anyone remember that Wal-Mart came out in favor of an increase in the minimum wage a few weeks ago?

    The nobility of this gesture was soon diminished when someone pointed out that WM pays a starting wage higher than the minimum and that the effect would be to harm those competitors that pay the minimum wage.

    Whether this has gotten through to those who believe that the minimum wage is a good thing I know not.

  • ||

    If people want to disagree with Jennifer that's fine.

    Just make sure that you disagree with the Jennifer who's posting here, and not the Jennifer in your head.

    Good point, thoreau.

    Actually, the Jennifer in my head rarely disagrees with me. And she feeds me grapes.

  • ||

    As to the Wal-Mart spelling issue, writing it the way the now much maligned poster did is pretty common throughout the U.S.

    It's still wrong.

    But, then so is "its" instead of "it's" in my last post. But that was a slip-up not an ingrained error; mea culpa, anyway.

  • ||

    Stevo Darkly,

    Due to your remark you should now expect a lot of wisecracks that include the words "Jennifer" and "head."

    Blank,

    Wrong in what sense?

  • ||

    I don't have anything readily linkable, Ken--it's from an email a friend sent me at the time a new Wal-Mart was being discussed in the Rice Lake city council, March 2004, and he attended the meeting. You obviously don't have to trust him but I've generally found him reliable. The new store was ultimately approved and just opened a month ago. The old building is standing a few blocks away, empty with no prospects at this point. My point, obscure though it may be, wasn't to say that the store ought to be generating revenue for the city. That would be a silly prospect indeed. But I believe the business ought to be fairly contributing toward the shared municipal services in addition to paying for the road improvements, etc., it requires in order to develop the site. I'm not convinced that it is, in this case. Others, including the city council that approved the plans, obviously disagreed. It was worth it to them to keep the jobs and the prestige of having a Wal-Mart in their city rather than having Wal-Mart move down the road to the next town.

  • ||

    Blue collar jobs are disappearing! They won't be replaced! We're headed towards a collapse! We need to protect blue collar jobs! No work for blue collar folks once those jobs are gone!

  • ||

    I never noticed that Auto Zone sold Jesus stuff. That section must not be next to the wiper blades ...

  • ||

    I don't give a damn who hates wally world. I love those low, low, prices. Being that I am not some rich snooty liberal; I guess the afore mentioned snoots would perfer that I pay more to be socially responsible or some such. Fuck em I say, and the joe they rode in on.

  • ||

    Why is it that if I say "I dislike a lot of things Wal-Mart does to its employees, and as a result I will not shop there, and here are some of the reasons why," everybody gets so ticked off?

    Stop being the disingenuous victim. You push the libertarian card in people's faces and then yank it away when it suits your mood. What you need to realize, and I know you already do based on previous posting, is that one can both be a libertarian, respecting your right to not shop at Wal-Mart and think your choice of not shopping at Wal-Mart is misguided. If you're going to bring up "these are the reasons I thinking shopping at Wal-Mart are wrong" then someone can post "here's why your reasons are misguided" without libertarianism ever being brought into the discussion. I'm not seeing posters chant "you're not a proper libertarian" after your posts only you saying "why is everybody picking on me. aren't you proper libertarians?"

  • ||

    For people who think Wal-Mart's lock-in policy is unethical, please post exactly what you think Wal-Mart's policy is and why it's unethical.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    I think it could be considered wrong because the Walton family of Wal-Mart only has one "L".

  • ||

    Jason Ligon,

    Its in the vanity plate, dorky accessories, etc.

  • ||

    Check this out:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/43024

  • ||

    In my limited experience, prices are not, on a whole, lower at Wal-Mart (other than things like the famous no-brand name DVD's) than, say, at Target, Costco, or a regional superstore.

    In my limited experience, Target and K-Mart completely fail to compete with wally-world on price for anything I've ever bought at either store. I don't live near a Costco.

  • ||

    I never said the only reason people dislike Wal-Mart is because they're elitist.

    Whoops, sorry, Jamie. I suppose I took your comment "shut your goddamn self-aggrandizing, elitist faces" the wrong way.

    Good-night, all.

  • ||

    Eric the .5b,

    Yes, I've actually priced the same items at Wal-Mart and K-Mart and found Wal-Mart consistently cheaper across a range of items.

  • ||

    As to the Wal-Mart spelling issue, writing it the way the now much maligned poster did is pretty common throughout the U.S.

    Uh, it's not something that's a matter of opinion. It's spelled "Wal-Mart." Just as I'm sure it says on their incorporation papers and their SEC filings.

  • ||

    Phil,

    People can choose to honor that convention or not. If 99% of the population starts writing "Wall-Mart" are you going to scream bloody murder against that usage?

    BTW, I can think of a couple of examples of companies changing their names in line with how the general population began to write it to take advantage of such.

  • ||

    Phil,

    I'm not against spelling conventions mind you, just so long as we realize that they aren't immutable. Anyway, my comment was more sociological in nature than anything. I see this spelling a lot, so what John isn't unusual.

  • ||

    Do share your examples, Hakluyt.

  • ||

    Serafina,

    They are in my IP law textbook which is unfortunately in the U.S. right now.

    BTW, I am surprised that the antis haven't started calling the place "Wail-Mart." :)

  • ||

    "BTW, I am surprised that the antis haven't started calling the place 'Wail-Mart.'"

    I would call it Wanker-Mart. Just cuz I think wanker is a funny word.

    WankerWankerWanker!!!

  • ||

    J,

    Heh. :)

  • ||

    Hak,
    How about Wal-merde

  • ||

    mk,

    Heh. Let me think on the ramifications of that one. :)

  • ||

    I'm not against spelling conventions mind you, just so long as we realize that they aren't immutable.

    Again, we're not talking about a spelling or pronunciation convention here, or regionalisms, or whatever. "Wal-Mart Stores Inc." is a legal entity for which, whatever one's own personal typing idiosyncracies, spelling counts. It does not do business as "Wall-Mart" or "WallMart" or "Wall Mart" or any other permutation.

  • ||

    "How about Wal-merde"

    Ha!

  • ||

    People can choose to honor that convention or not.

    Well, no. Proper names are propert names. What they're doing isn't "not honoring a convention," it's "misspelling," just as much as typing "Boeing" as "Boing" or "Bowing" would be. Let's not confuse the two. We aren't undergoing a language shift here; John is notoriously bad at spelling and grammar.

    If 99% of the population starts writing "Wall-Mart" are you going to scream bloody murder against that usage?

    I'm not screaming bloody murder now, jerkoff.

  • ||

    Phil,

    Well, no. Proper names are propert names.

    Which doesn't explain the morphing over time of proper names.

    We aren't undergoing a language shift here...

    Unless we are.

    John is notoriously bad at spelling and grammar.

    That may be, but then so apparently are all the other people who write "Wall-Mart" when they mean "Wal-Mart."

  • ||

    Phil,

    Indeed, this is a bit like genericide for trademarked names. If the culture (I hate to abstract it this way, but so be it) decides its going to spell a proper name a specific way, there may be little the purveyor of that proper name can do about it.

  • ||

    Or rather, the process of genericide.

  • ||

    But I believe the business ought to be fairly contributing toward the shared municipal services in addition to paying for the road improvements, etc., it requires in order to develop the site.

    I'm semi-familiar with the development of big boxes and what cities will do. When a city finds a big box wants to go where there was none before, the typical reaction isn't to cave to the big box's every demand; it's to tag on every fee they can and invent a few more.

    I'm sure there are historically distressed parts of the country where a municipality will bend over backwards to accommodate any activity at all, but, considering the development boom we've seen almost nation wide over the last few years... Accommodative municipalities have been the exception rather than the rule.

    So color me marginally skeptical. ...I think that's like half-way between burnt sienna and peach. ; )

    Others, including the city council that approved the plans, obviously disagreed. It was worth it to them to keep the jobs and the prestige of having a Wal-Mart in their city rather than having Wal-Mart move down the road to the next town.

    Businesses negotiate with whatever leverage they have. Municipalities have a monopoly within their jurisdiction. It sounds like they came to an equitable agreement. ...and I'm really burnt sienna/peach about any suggestion that whatever agreement they came to in regards to tax breaks is in effect 'til kingdom come.

  • ||

    Actually, the Jennifer in my head rarely disagrees with me. And she feeds me grapes.

    The Jennifer in my head argues with me all the time, but it always ends well.

  • ||

    I worked at Wal-Mart for nearly three years. It's kinda dumb, to be sure.

    That said, they do have ridiculously low prices on a lot of shit. If you really want to hurt the company... go there and buy toothpaste. No matter what brand it is, unless it's the expensive Rembrandt variety, it's sold at about a -10% markup.

  • ||

    Steven,
    You sound like an ingrate. Plus, why would you assume that I want to "hurt" Wal-Mart? I go there to buy cheap shit. Period.

  • ||

    ...and you sound like you've got irritable bowel syndrome Jamie.

    Why are you attacking Steven?

  • ||

    Steven,
    You sound like an ingrate. Plus, why would you assume that I want to "hurt" Wal-Mart? I go there to buy cheap shit. Period.


    O RLY?

  • ||

    Is it me or are the people complaining Wal-mart charges too little the same who complain that gas stations charge too much?

    Yes. Also, the same people that claim that the gas companies are in a conspiracy to produce less oil, therefore raising prices, claim that we are invading Iraq to get more oil.

  • ||

    O RLY?

    Ha!

  • ||

    Indeed, this is a bit like genericide for trademarked names. If the culture (I hate to abstract it this way, but so be it) decides its going to spell a proper name a specific way, there may be little the purveyor of that proper name can do about it.

    Good point, Hackloot!

  • ||

    Jamie-

    Since you are so quick to assume Wal-Mart crtics are "self-aggrandizing and elitist," let me follow up the ad-hominem by decalring that you and your ilk are white-trash, no-class Wal-Mart apologists hell bent on forcing everybody to drink Sanka and watch NASCAR.

  • ||

    To the poster above that tried to absolve Wal-Mart for the sins of their managers, I call b.s. There is a trade-off between having policies determined from headquarters versus from the individual stores. Wal-Mart senior management is smart enough to know what behavior their incentives create. There's a reason McDonalds has supremely anal standards as far as cooking times and other things go. It is because they know the actions of their francishees affect the entire brand. You can't go for the benefits of decentralization and then say "It wasn't us, it was a rogue manager" when policies you leave to the discretion of managers are abused. Senior management is well-versed in the concept of agency costs.

  • ||

    It's nice to have you back Mo.

    ...I made the same kind of argument in regards to the Bush Administration and torture--*ahem*--interrogation policy, and was charged with not being able to produce a memo from Rumsfeld to Lynndie England.

    Managers are responsible for the direct results of their policies. For some people, that's a revolutionary idea.

    ...You're in business school, right?

  • ||

    Let's just call it "Mall-wart", or simply "Wart".

    It's a descriptive name, more so than Wal-Mart. When was the last time you actually bought a Wal there? The stores look like warts compared to some of the nicely designed and landscaped malls I've seen.

  • ||

    "I do, and thus I choose not to give them my business. I am also willing to explain to others why I feel as I do. So what's the problem?"

    No problem at all. You are of course free to shop wherever you want for whatever reason you want. Just like I'm free to laugh at your reasoning and continue paying lower prices at Wal-Mart.

  • ||

    What Mo says makes a lot of sense.

  • ||

    Just like I'm free to laugh at your reasoning and continue paying lower prices at Wal-Mart.


    The beauty of it is, what I buy tends to be cheaper at Target anyway. They have store-brand products which Wal-Mart does not.

  • ||

    Ken,
    Yes I am. One of the classes I'm taking now is all about setting up incentive systems and the potential agency costs of various performance measures causes (for example measuring performance by ROI alone leaves the potential for investments which would increase shareholder value to be passed over due to a lower ROI, but positive NPV). It astounding the blind spot many have for the unintended consequences of a businesses policies when people rail all over the same with government.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    You know, when my parents, who employ a lot of people who would have a hard time otherwise finding employment anywhere else, started their business if it hadn't been for Wal-Mart and Sam's Club and their low, low prices it would have been more difficult to keep the business going. Its really those sort of positive effects of Wal-Mart that the antis never really think about.

    Target is so much more expensive than Wal-Mart I wonder how most folks can afford to shop there.

  • ||

    So Jamie, before I answer your question, I have to know, what would you like to see first - evidence that workers in China are abused by their government to lower labor costs there, or evidence that undocumented immigrants working in America are abused by our government, which lowers the labor costs of the scumbag companies that take advantage of them?

    Or are you going to make the mob boss claim that nobody at Wal Mart personally carries out the abuse?

  • Dan||

    I don�t have strong feelings on the Wal-Mart debate either way, but I do wonder if there�s a big difference between Wal-Marts in a large city where it represents one of many shopping options and WM�s in small towns where it is more or less the only option and possibly the town�s largest employer.

    I mean, drive through some of the depressed small rural towns where WM is the biggest building in town and tell me that these places were actually worse off beforehand.

  • ||

    Jamie,

    That's just joe's way of avoiding your question.

  • ||

    Target is so much more expensive than Wal-Mart I wonder how most folks can afford to shop there.

    This is patently untrue, and we had this discussion before, and as I recall, you pussed out when given the opportunity to prove or disprove it. I even volunteered to do a side-by-side on 20-30 common consumer items, and you still pussed out.

  • ||

    These people think that Wall-Mart is tacky and beneath them and they don't like the culture of the people who shop there, so therefore there must be something evil and sinister about it.

    Back in the real world... I & everyone else I know who doesn't like Wal-Mart can tell you the real reason: it's the perfect reflection of America's idiotic obsession with wrecking small towns & inner cities in the name of suburban sprawl. To everyone who claims that there are still specialty & antique stores or whatnot in town, you're missing the point. The *basic needs* have been moved out to the fringes, requiring a car to reach. Living without a car, either by choice or need (yes, there are millions of Americans who cannot afford a car - or who can, but would be much better off spending that money on something else), has become all but impossible in America - and Wal-Mart is the most obvious reflection of this right now.

  • ||

    I agree that Wal-Mart manipulates governments, exploits youthful oversees workers, mistreats employees, abuses suppliers, destroys local stores, and fucks up neighborhoods. These are common business practices throughout the world, so why single out Wal-Mart for your animosity?

    I especially dislike them for their attempts to mold American culture and mores with their censorship of movies and music. I am also wary of any corporation that is large enough to become a quasi-governmental organization. They will dictate or greatly influence labor laws, zoning, benefit policies, drug testing, and other commerce issues that extend well beyond their corporate borders.

    Regardless of my personal distaste for Wal-Mart, I still shop there all the time. The place is frequented by common folk, is Spartan in appearance, and it is full of cheap shit. So I feel right at home there. It is most enjoyable when you have a good buzz going.

  • ||

    Dan,

    Your 10:19 post is exactly what I was trying to say in my own garbled words. I am fearful of the concentration of power in a private corporation. Wal-Mart wields a tremendous amount of influence on the world as they spend around 250 Billion each year.

    I have a positive suggestion to Wal-Mart to improve their public relations. In each of their MegaMarts they should include a section for locally produced goods. They could sell tye-dyed shirts from the stoner that lives in the trailer by the river, jewelry made by the cripple that lives over the drug store, furniture made by the retired bus driver, decorations fashioned by a group of housewives. The locals might embrace a store that provides the community opportunities to counterbalance the headaches.

  • ||

    And by the way, I don't single out Wal-Mart. If I could afford to buy a car and drive out to New Jersey, I would consider shopping there - because I am just as susceptible to buying cheap stuff as everyone else. In fact, I bought my air conditioner from them online. But it's always going to be human nature to single out the 800-pound gorilla. If Target overtakes Wal-Mart, Target will get the same treatment.

  • ||

    Phil,

    If you'd like to fly me to a place which has both a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Super Target I will gladly do as you ask. Anyway, I do not recall any past challenge.

  • ||

    What Crushinator said minus the personal dislike for Wal-Mart. I automatically assume that pretty much every major corporation is obnoxious in a variety of ways. They din't get to where they are now without stepping on people and taking every advantage they can get. Wal-Mart gets more attention because it is particularly successful at what it does and has enormous market share.

    If you don't like Wal-Mart don't shop there. But don't expect people who do shop there to care, or even listen when you complain about how evil it is. Because that's not why we shop there. We don't care if you don't like it.

  • ||

    Why are so many smart people clueless about WalMart? WalMart, Kmart and Target sell crap made in the same Chinese shithole. WalMart is so cheap because its logistics management is the best.

  • fyodor||

    Ah, the level of discourse on this thread is finally on the rise, if only after most folks have moved on from it. The last three posts all make very good points.

  • ||

    You guys make me miss the objectivists! ...where's an unabashed, capitalist pig objectivist when you need one?

    Oh, come on. You are connected to billions of web pages. You don't need to wait for for an objectivist to come to you. You can go to them!

    To soothe your objectivist yearnings, here are a couple excerpts from the Ayn Rand Institute:

    Communities Should Welcome Wal-Mart--in the Name of Freedom and Justice



    There is only one morally proper way to keep Wal-Mart out of any community: don't patronize its stores.



    Only in a country where individual rights--at least what's left of them--including the right to earn a profit, are recognized, could a company like Wal-Mart arise and prosper. Trying to stop Wal-Mart is not only morally wrong, it is un-American.

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