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.