Nanny State

The Case for Walmart

New York City politicians should drop their misguided war on the retail giant.

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In late November, New York City fired another preemptive strike against the gathering threat of $4 prescription drug co-pays, organic baby food, and eco-friendly laundry detergent. It came in the form of a report entitled Food for Thought: A Case Study of Walmart's Impact on Harlem's Healthy Food Retail Landscape. While the retail giant has yet to announce any imminent store openings in the city, Walmart is determined to break into urban markets with smaller-format stores. It has already opened one outlet in Chicago, has plans for half a dozen in Washington DC, and, well, you can't put anything past a sharp-eyed New Yorker, especially given that the city has been loudly decrying its lack of supermarkets in recent years—a Walmart in New York would make total sense. And thus city officials have been working hard all year to quash such scheming. Low prices for the people of Gotham City who don't have the time or wherewithal to venture to New Jersey or Long Island? Not if Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has anything to say about it.

Published under Stringer's imprimatur, Food for Thought draws upon "research on the experience of other localities" and "original survey data" to conclude that opening a Walmart of indeterminate size at a specific corner in Harlem—West 125th and Lenox Avenue—would have "an immensely negative impact on New York City" and could "nearly negate fours years of citywide efforts to improve food access for underserved communities." Damage would be worst at the epicenter. According to the report, "48 to 66 stores" within a mile of West 125th and Lenox will perish if a Walmart is allowed to open on the site.

Attacks on Walmart from New York City politicos aren't news. In February 2011, for example, various City Council members competed with each other at a special hearing to see who could posture hardest against the retail giant. But if the arguments Food for Thought deploys against Walmart seems fairly well-chewed at this point, its characterization of Harlem is surprisingly novel. While the neighborhood is often characterized as a "food desert" and an "underserved" area by New York City officials and food justice activists, Food for Thought touts Harlem's "diverse retail landscape" and "multitude of fresh food outlets."

According to the report, there are 304 food retailers within a one-mile radius of West 125th and Lenox Avenue that are 10,000 square feet or less in size. (Food for Thought didn't include food retailers that are 10,000 square feet or more in its survey. A 53,000-square foot Pathmark is located a half mile from West 125th and Lenox. A 174,000-square foot Target is a mile and a half away.)

Of these 304 retailers, only five are greater than 6000 square feet in size. The great majority of them—230—are "bodegas," which are also known as convenience stores, corner stores, or that place up the block where one sad rotting banana and a can of Spaghetti-O's, vintage 2009, serve as décor for the merchandise that really moves there: booze, tobacco, lottery tickets, candy, ice cream, and Slim Jims.

If you're a libertine with a zeal for the grittiest aspects of urban life, bodegas are a boon to any neighborhood. They pioneered the sale of single cigarettes. They're more likely to stock shrink-wrapped value-packs of recycled porn magazines than value-packs of, say, diapers. They're excellent venues for food stamp fraud. As purveyors of fresh fruits and vegetables, however, or even reasonably priced cat food, they enjoy a less stellar reputation. In fact, Eating Well In Harlem: How Available is Healthy Food?, a 2007 report from New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, argued that the area's preponderance of bodegas and lack of supermarkets was the reason for its high rates of obesity and diabetes. "Approximately 2 in 3 food stores in East and Central Harlem are bodegas," it reported, and these bodegas had "a more limited product selection than supermarkets and other stores do." According to the report, only 3 percent of the bodegas in East and Central Harlem carried leafy green vegetables. Only 30 percent carried low-fat milk.

In 2008, New York's Department of City Planning released a similar report entitled Going to Market: New York City's Neighborhood Grocery Store and Supermarket Shortage. It too advocated for more supermarkets, insisting that "increased competition in underserved neighborhoods would reduce grocery costs" and that supermarkets would also "improve property values," "create jobs," and "serve as retail anchors, attracting foot traffic and complementary retail."

In addition to issuing reports, New York City has also created several programs in recent years that are designed to broaden the range of fresh foods retailers carry and encourage developers and grocery store operators to open larger stores in the city. In 2005, it created the Healthy Bodegas Initiative, a modestly funded program that has tried to incentivize bodega store owners to carry healthier fare by offering them posters and other promotional materials, providing marketing and merchandising advice, assisting them in obtaining loans and licenses, and helping them improve their stores storage and shelving capacities.

In 2008, New York City created the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program, which offers zoning incentives, tax breaks, pre-development loans and grants, equipment financing, construction loans, and various other inducements to grocery store operators and developers if they build grocery stores that are 6,000 square feet or larger. To date, the program has secured $8.5 million in financing for 222,000 square feet of space in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

But as Food for Thought notes, "the [FRESH] program has had no impact on the food retail landscape of Manhattan"—none of those 222,000 square feet are located in Harlem or anywhere else in New York City's most densely populated borough. In the case of the bodegas that dominate Harlem's retail food landscape, Food for Thought optimistically reports that 23 percent of the bodegas within a one-mile radius of West 125th Street and Lenox Avenue now carry at least three kinds of vegetables, and 37 percent of them carry at least three kinds of fruit.  Which essentially means that one in four Harlem bodegas now offer almost as many kinds of veggies as a McDonald's Angus Deluxe.

Compared to what New York City's Department of Health found in 2007 when it surveyed a different but overlapping set of bodegas for its Eating in Harlem report, there appears to be substantial improvement. But as Food for Thought also documents, just 12 bodegas in its survey area—or 5 percent of that area's primary type of retail food outlet—carry at least six varieties of fruit.

As Nick Gillespie reports in an April 2011 Reason.TV piece, Walmart's increasing focus on groceries—and its success in selling them—has limited expansion opportunities for traditional grocery chains, which are the most unionized sector of the retail workforce. To stay in good stead with UFCW Local 1500, Scott Stringer and his colleagues are pretty much compelled to oppose Walmart as vehemently as they can manage. But characterizing an area where 218 out of 230 stores have never harbored a peach or a grapefruit as a "diverse retail landscape" with a "multitude of fresh food outlets" is asking Harlem residents to swallow a lot of empty rhetorical calories in pursuit of such efficacies.

(Article continues below video.)

Ultimately, even bodegas committed to selling fresh produce will never be optimal delivery channels for such fare. They're small, often undercapitalized enterprises that can't afford to invest large sums of money on goods that may end spoiling before anyone buys them. The prices they charge will always be higher than those charged by larger entities that can obtain volume discounts from suppliers. They lack the sophisticated inventory management and sales analysis tools that helps operations like Walmart serve their customer bases so effectively. (A Healthy Bodegas Initiative internal program review prepared in 2009 reports that "bodega owners were unable to even make a guess about how many people they typically serve in a day.")

Over time, the Healthy Bodegas Initiative determined that it could be most effective by concentrating its efforts on improving the quality, affordability, and variety of items in bodegas that already stock some produce rather than trying to convince ones that aren't carrying any to start doing so. And even with this limited, pragmatic approach, its Program Development Specialist, Donya Williams, is careful to temper expectations. "We can't work successfully with all stores," she states in a 2010 presentation. "You have to meet the stores where they're at," she says in an undated interview at Food Systems Network NYC. "So to think that these small corner stores are going to look like mini Whole Foods is just not realistic….Right now, unfortunately, there's not much choice. Our idea is to expand the choices so that people can pick the healthier option. I'm not saying it's the healthiest, just healthier; it's baby steps. Change is incremental."

But while the incremental changes that the Healthy Bodegas Initiative is helping bodegas achieve are inspiring, it's hard not to imagine that at least some of Harlem's residents are hungry for the sort of radical change and abundant choice to the local food landscape that Walmart could deliver overnight. Scott Stringer may not be among them, but then again, he lives on the Upper West Side, where he shops at Fairway Market, which New York magazine describes as "a multistory, 35,000-square foot gastronomic temple where floor-to-ceiling assortments of glistening fresh produce offset homey prepared foods and tempting baked goods." If his constituents at West 125th and Lenox are lucky, perhaps he'll bring some organic kale along the next time he drops in on the neighborhood to save it from stores that stock more kinds of fruit than a can of Del Monte Fruit Cocktail does.

Contributing Editor Greg Beato writes from San Francisco.

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  1. Today I purchased a large jar of Vlasic Original Dill Wholes at Walmart for $2.19. In the typical New York grocery store, if you can still find the large jars, they run about $3.49. Man, do I feel exploited.

    1. As a public service, I’ll list (this being the Season of Lists) a few other items I picked up today at Walmart, and their prices, so the commentariat may be better informed. You’re welcome.

      1 large green bell pepper: $.58
      Bag O’ Italian Salad Greens: $1.58
      Gala Apples: @1.17/lb
      Bananas: $.54/lb
      Ground Beef (80/20): $2.16/lb
      Dozen large eggs: $1.18
      64 oz. orange juice from concentrate: $1.98

      1. But were they ORGANIC?!

        1. Yes, I’m certain that they are carbon-based veggies. Not that they are not wholly inferior to Whole[cough]Foods.

          1. Welcome to the English Language, Dilbert, where a word can have more than one dictionary meaning. (See, e.g., fair, right, race, play, pick…)

            Organic has other meanings besides “carbon-based,” and your coy jokes to the contrary are lame.

            1. The reductio ad absurdum of a long line of mini-Kantians, such as pragmatists and positivists, Linguistic Analysis holds that words are an arbitrary social product immune from any principles or standards, an irreducible primary not subject to inquiry about its origin or purpose?and that we can “dissolve” all philosophical problems by “clarifying” the use of these arbitrary, causeless, meaningless sounds which hold ultimate power over reality. . . .

              Proceeding from the premise that words (concepts) are created by whim, Linguistic Analysis offers us a choice of whims: individual or collective. It declares that there are two kinds of definitions: “stipulative,” which may be anything anyone chooses, and “reportive,” which are ascertained by polls of popular use.
              -Ayn Rand

              1. Thanks for talking dirty to me….

            2. Or, many of us object to the idea that just because chemicals are added to the soil in a purified form, this does not make plant matter synthetic. Organic is a marketing label.

              1. Organic is a marketing label…

                …for suckers.

                1. “Organic” is now a legal term, with legal meaning, under federal law. And it’s popular with consumers.

                  Better get used to it.

                  1. That doesn’t make it any less a marketing label.

                    1. Yes, it does make it less of a “marketing label.”

                      A marketing label is a term with no fixed meaning that you can slap onto any food product without meeting any standards. E.g., “Deluxe;” “Gourmet.”

                      “Organic” now has a regulatory standard that has to be met before it can be used. It may be a marketing “ploy”, but it is not a mere marketing “label.”

                    2. It’s not quite that simple. There are restrictions on the use of certain synthetics, but what can qualify as “organic” would, I fear, deeply shock and offend you. Remember, the regulators of food are, perhaps more than other federal regulators, “captured.”

                    3. As does “champagne”, “cognac”, “bourbon”, and “scotch whiskey”. And you’re a complete retard if you think those aren’t marketing labels. Or do you think that the intrinsic nature of Jack Daniels is different from that of bourbon, sparkling wine from California is different from that from the Champagne region of France or brandy made from sparkling wine isn’t cognac unless from a particular town in France.

                    4. Whether the legal and regulatory requirements are good in your view, or advisable, or truly meaningful, is irrelevant.

                      “Kosher”, for instance, is a label that is based on superstition and fairy tales, but it is something more than a “marketing label.” It means something specific; something verifiable.

                  2. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 5:37PM|#
                    “”Organic” is now a legal term, with legal meaning, under federal law.”

                    So is “Moron”, moron.

                    1. Actually, no.

                      But for you, Sevo, maybe it should be made one.

                    2. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 5:45PM|#
                      “Actually, no.”

                      Actually, yes, moron.

                    3. citation, please, Sevo

                    4. Found this at Lawyers.com:

                      Idiot
                      Definition – Noun
                      : a person with esp. profound mental retardation
                      While the terms idiot imbecile, and moron survive in many state codes and statutes, they are generally no longer used in both medical and legal contexts. The modern terminology distinguishes between mild, moderate, severe, and profound levels of retardation. Historically persons with mental retardation have suffered legal disabilities (as in not being allowed to marry or vote). Generally today, an adult with mental retardation who is his or her own guardian does not suffer these disabilities.

                      looks like Sevo is right as the are still jurisdictions where Moron is legally defined (I believe it is an IQ range which differentiates idiot, moron, etc.)

                    5. Nope.

                      A 50-state check shows that not one of the fifty states still uses “moron” as a defined or operative legal term. A few states may have used the term in old repealed or superseded laws, but it does not “survive” in any state’s code.

                      And it was never in federal law, which is what Sevo asserted.

                  3. Yep, lot’s of stupid stuff is popular with consumers. However, for the government to treat it as somewhat BETTER because of that popularity- or the treatment leading to that popularity- is somewhat unnacceptable.

                    1. Organic gets treated worse, not better. Chemically-saturated corn crops get the massive taxpayer subsidies, while organic fresh fruits and vegetables get nothing.

                    2. But the organics are grown in stool…..

                  4. “Organic” is now a legal term, with legal meaning

                    And how many pages does it take for this legal definition?

                  5. So were Beanie Babies. If you want to fool yourself that organic means healthier, go ahead, and pay an arm and a leg for the privilige. But please spare us the “federal law” crap. The feds are famous the world ’round for idiocy, ill-thought out plans, and for just being plain ol’ wrong. Don’t hitch your wagon to the Feds – they’ll take you where you don’t want to go.

            3. Kudos to Dilbert for pointing out the absurdity of the label “organic”. A perfectly respectable word has been distorted into a marketing tool in order to hoodwink the snobby and self righteous into paying more. It’s also worth noting that many of the recent E. coli outbreaks have been traced to “organic” farms, which is another very good reason to avoid anything labeled organic.

              1. see above

          2. Turn your head when you cough. Thank you.

    2. It’s libertarian.

      A global-prison labor pool is libertarian.

      1. BULLSHIT argument. It’s not slave or prison labor. It’s a competetive advantage.

        1. A glorious capitalist utopia of…

          “…sexual and physical abuse, debt bondage, child labor and unsafe working conditions…”

          ‘Virtual Slavery’ In Wal-Mart’s Asian Shrimp Suppliers
          http://walmartwatch.org/blog/a…..suppliers/

          1. Yep, I’m going to go into Walmart watch.org for an unbiased and factual report.

            1. “Even if it’s true, I don’t wanna hear it!”

              LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

              LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

              1. Even if the pot called the kettle black…

                Wait, in this case, I’m the kettle and I’m not black. I’m one of those dark red shiney ones.

              2. Wow: the labor market and capital are interlinked? Hey asshole, how about those Air Jordan’s and Indonesian sweat shops. If the Asians want to have child labor then go right ahead. I grew up on a farm and my parents were guilty of many OSHA as well as labor infractions. So please fuck off?

                1. LOL Love that tight Libertard “logic.”

                  P.S. Agriculture is the birth of production, complete with its essential features and deformation of life and consciousness.

                  Agriculture: Demon Engine of Civilization
                  by John Zerzan
                  http://rewild.info/anthropik/l…..index.html

          2. Yet people are lining up for those jobs?I wonder why, since they’re so terrible??

            1. Those people are STARVED into SUBMISSION by your crapitalist System that disestablishes men from the Land.

              1. Except they’re not.

              2. You’re right. Those countries were wealthy and prosperous before America came around. I forgot about that.

      2. More prosperous labor in Asia|12.29.11 @ 4:47PM|#
        “It’s libertarian.”

        Yes, it is.

        1. I thought you gave up responding to trolls for Lent 4th Of July Halloween Thanksgiving Christmas?

          1. Only WI and o3; the rest remain in season.
            Do I need a hunting license?

            1. We call in a medalion around these parts.

            2. We call in a medalion around these parts.

              1. You don’t say.

            3. Do I need a hunting license?

              Trolls are trolls. But then, there are no rules in anarchy.

              1. OK, how about a bounty?

            4. And now we have the gun, hunting humans.

              Libertards are all the same, city-STATISTS who whitewash their aggression — until the whitewash doesn’t work anymore.

              The truth revealed.

              1. Sniff, sniff, *gag!*
                Vermin shit.

                1. Been sucking on Stalin’s dick again, Sevo?

                  1. “Been sucking on Stalin’s dick”

                    Just a bit of a fixation there, and posting here won’t help you.

              2. Wow. The sad thing is, I don’t think trolls joke.

                1. Jokes about hunting and murdering humans are always funny.

                  To certain types of people.

                  1. “Jokes about hunting and murdering vermin shit is always funny.”

                    Yes, it is.

                  2. Here is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down?

                    Because 6% of college-aged men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word “rape” isn’t used in the description of the act?and that’s the conservative estimate. Other sources double that number (pdf).

                    A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

                    Rapists do.

                    They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.

                    Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.

                    Rape “Jokes” Are No Laughing Matter
                    December 5, 2011
                    http://www.care2.com/causes/ra…..atter.html

                    1. So it’s you. rather?
                      Well, fuck you.

                    2. So it’s you. rather?

                      It’s fucking ALWAYS rather.

                    3. “It’s fucking ALWAYS rather.”

                      You don’t really think there is more than one person that freakishly stupid, do you?

                    4. “as long as the word “rape” isn’t used in the description of the act”
                      So what word do they use instead? Sex? Because, you know, to feminists all sex is rape (except MAYBE lesbian sex).

                    5. Well, except MAYBE lesbian sex and DEFINITELY child sodomizing sex if done by a famous movie director.

                    6. doesnt mind if I do her when she is passed out?

                    7. Is it rape if my wife doesnt mind if I do her when she is passed out?

                      In Canada, yes.

                      http://scc.lexum.org/en/2011/2…..scc28.html

                  3. and they’re sometimes funly to almost all types of people.

      3. “Liberty for me, but not for thee,” as always.

        The Chinese prisoners are “at liberty” to slave away or die, while the Sevos and Dilberts of America are “at liberty” to profit by their blood and enslavement, and salve their negligible consciences by mumbling “trolls” to themselves over and over again.

        1. Right. So when workers in China rioted and got raises, that as putting down a slave revolt?

        2. I do not think the world works like you think it does.

          1. That’s because you’re stupid and malicious, ‘spencer.’

            1. No, I think its because you’re wrong. Also, why was my name in quotation marks? Were those the typing susbstitute for finger air quotes?

              1. they were a substitute for a finger gesture, to be sure

                1. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 5:52PM|#
                  “they were a substitute for a finger gesture, to be sure”

                  Ignorant left wing claims followed by the finger when called on bullshit.
                  Just about right.

                  1. “they were a substitute for a finger gesture, to be sure”

                    The thumbs up? The peace sign?

                    So, you’re conceding defeat in the face of reality, yes? Good for you.

                    1. what concession?

                      what reality?

                      never mind … I won’t waste time awaiting mitigation of your stupidity and malice

                    2. “never mind … I won’t waste time awaiting mitigation of your stupidity and malice”

                      You know, if you don’t like being called on bullshit, you should stop posting it.

        3. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 5:20PM|#
          “The Chinese prisoners are “at liberty” to slave away or die,”

          Shitstain, please tell us of the amount of goods sold at Walmart which are made with slave labor.

          1. Surprisingly, Walmart isn’t very forthcoming with that information.

            And I wouldn’t be very happy with even 1%, anyway.

            But I will grant you this: Walmart is ultimately irrelevant to the Chinese slave labor problem. Individual mom-and-pop retailers are every bit as dependent on Chinese industrial slavery as any big-box store. It’s a national problem for us, not just a problem for individual firms, large or small.

            1. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 5:58PM|#
              “Surprisingly, Walmart isn’t very forthcoming with that information.”

              So, shitstain, you have absolutely no idea if any of it at all is made the way you claim, but that doesn’t stop you from making that claim?
              There’s a word for that:
              Liar.

              1. No, I have a very firm idea that much of the American retail product, including merchandise at WalMart, is made under substandard conditions in China.

                You asked for an “amount.” I cannot quantify that by percentages of what is on the shelf on any given day.

                If you want the term “liar” to stick, you’ll have to do your own legwork and come back with citations. I’ll expect that shortly after you find that federal legal citation for the definition of “moron”, supra.

                1. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 6:34PM|#
                  “No, I have *A VERY FIRM IDEA*…”

                  IOWs, you have a fantasy based on no data at all.
                  Did you check under your bed for monsters when you got up this morning? I have a very firm idea they’re there.

            2. So we would all quit buying anything! Because then everyone wins.

              1. Now at least you are grappling with the reality: we are stuck with reliance on production under substandard labor conditions. This is a problem that we need to confront, not some made-up ‘non-issue’ that people like you should be smugly dismissing with a wave of the hand. And if you can’t see that, it’s because you are a stupid, malicious, morally-blind person, blinkered by your own ideology and closed off in your mind with only the sources of information that confirm your pre-existing prejudices (Penn and Teller — derp!).

                Improve yourself.

                1. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 6:39PM|#
                  “…we are stuck with reliance on production under substandard labor conditions.”

                  “substandard labor conditions.”? Definition missing.

                  1. I gave you a state department link below.

                    Again, you’re welcome.

                    1. Why, thank you!
                      Problem is, you didn’t show that it applies to your claims.
                      Wanna see a document on unicorns?

                2. There are other places in the world that practice real slavery. They’re very well documented. You should do whatever it is you do to stop slavery over there also. If not, you’re just as nasty as anything you just called sevo.

                  1. REAL slavery is practiced here too where REAL force is actually used. Just not at Walmart. http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/

                    http://www.polarisproject.org/

                    These poeple might object to their situation being compaired to working at Walmart.

          2. Don’t know about Walmart, but a lot of the “ORGANIC” food at Whole Foods is…
            http://www.elephantjournal.com…..bc-expose/

            1. So business fraud on the organic labelling isn’t surprising.

              Customers call for boycott after Whole Foods chief executive criticises US healthcare reform
              http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/20…..are-mackey

              1. Is that you, rather?
                Go see how that ‘customer’ action worked out.
                That wasn’t a ‘customer’ action; that was whiny, ignorant lefty dipshits like you who once bought something there and it had zero effect.
                Oh, and fuck you, rather. You’re a sleazy blog-pimp and nothing more.

  2. Haven’t these people seen Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode about this?!?!?!

    Seriously, how can no one draw the line between corruption and wanting to keep prices artificially high?

    1. Oh, WalmartWatch can’t meet the standard of serious, scholarly, non-biased journalism ….

      …like Penn and Teller’s cable TV show!

      spencer, if you bent over any further you’d be wearing your own taint like a mustache.

      1. You should see the show before you judge.

        1. I’ve seen the show. It’s good. But it has a point of view like every other source, and it sure as hell isn’t authority for denying the truth about labor conditions in much of China. So keep your sanctimonious bullshit about WalmartWatch in check.

          1. “it sure as hell isn’t authority for denying the truth about labor conditions in much of China.”

            And you, who admit you have absolutely zero data to back up your claims, ARE?

            1. Go do your own research, Sevo. I’m not your college professor, and you aren’t paying me tuition to educate you.

              1. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 6:57PM|#
                “Go do your own research, Sevo.”

                Let’s see:
                1) Make claim.
                2) On questioning, admit you have no data.
                3) Weasel with ‘firm feelings’.
                4) Get called on bullshit *again*.
                5) Tell questioner to do research to back up *your* claim!
                Yep; sign of the moron.

              2. Ah, hell. Who am I kidding? I’m a liberal. It’s my job to give stuff free to people who don’t deserve it.

                Here ya go, Sevo. The section on workers’ rights starts at page 67:

                http://www.state.gov/documents…..160451.pdf

                You’re welcome.

                1. “Here ya go, Sevo. The section on workers’ rights starts at page 67:”
                  Let’s see:
                  1) Make claim.
                  2) On questioning, admit you have no data.
                  3) Weasel with ‘firm feelings’.
                  4) Get called on bullshit *again*.
                  5) Tell questioner to do research to back up *your* claim!
                  6) Link to anonymous document that *might* apply *if* bullshit claims were true!

                  Hint: When you’re up to your neck in bullshit, quit digging.

                  1. “anonymous document”

                    ***********************

                    That’s the annual human rights report from the U.S. State Department.

                    Please feel free to embarass yourself further, Sevo but, for my part, I have rather had my fill of watching you repeatedly licking from a puddle of your own vomit.

                    1. Da, comrade, he’s into vodka again tonight.

                    2. There is no “we”|12.29.11 @ 7:28PM|#
                      “anonymous document”
                      ***********************
                      That’s the annual human rights report from the U.S. State Department.”
                      Oh, well, NOW you tell us. So what? You still haven’t shown that it applies to your bullshit.
                      Still feeling the need to see a doc on unicorns?

                      “Please feel free to embarass yourself further, Sevo but, for my part, I have rather had my fill of watching you repeatedly licking from a puddle of your own vomit.”
                      7) When called on the last bullshit, whine, toss out random insults and claim you’re leaving.
                      Here’s your shovel, shitstain. Just keep digging.

                    3. “NOW you tell us…”

                      Yeah. For future reference the url “state.gov” is a pretty sure indicator.

                      And, yes, Sevo, the reports findings apply to product that is labeled “Made in China.” WalMart doesn’t have it’s own special factories in China where human rights are respected. If it’s made in China, it’s made under the Chinese system, as reported by State. QED.

  3. Excellent article

  4. Are you telling me that NYC has only commissioned one study and hasn’t launched an initiative since 2008? That is outrageous!

    1. No wonder so many of those OWS folks couldn’t find work. We definitely need a study to determine why so few studies and initiatives have been undertaken.

  5. It too advocated for more supermarkets, insisting that “increased competition in underserved neighborhoods would reduce grocery costs” and that supermarkets would also “improve property values,” “create jobs,” and “serve as retail anchors, attracting foot traffic and complementary retail.”

    So where do they propose this urban strip mall get built? This being a committee recommendation, you know they had some suggestions.

  6. Walmart is a disease? Who comes up with this crap?

    1. Other grocery stores wanting to charge more money for the same goods.

      1. Ah, now that makes sense.

      2. Other grocery stores wanting to charge more money for the same goods

        And the self-appointed slum witch doctors who know what’s best for their tribes.

        1. yes, that are paid kickbacks by the aforementioned grocery stores.

          1. You callin’ me a shakedown artist, boy?!

            1. Now, sir, that’s racist.

    2. Food workers unions detest Walmart, even though union members shop there.

      1. How do they keep up with all of this? Fucking confuses me.

    3. Labor unions trying to unionize walmart. It is their Moby Dick. Hopefully it will kill them.

      1. You know, when you read Moby Dick the second time, Ahab and the whale become good friends!

        1. That’s the sequel, Maybe-Dick.

          1. Is that the one where Ahabs libertine grand-daughter finds out that love cannot be bound by species?

            1. Yes. She turns to the White Whale after a brief fling with Son of Queequeg. That segue between lovers is interrupted by 436 pages on the whaling industry.

              1. And by whaling industry, we’re talking about sea port prostitution and heroine addiction she must overcome, and the abortions forced upon her by her pimp and madam, right?

              2. “That segue between lovers is interrupted by 436 pages on the whaling industry.”
                Is it a speech? Was it written by Ayn Rand?

                1. Yep. But just that part.

                2. Melville taught Rand all about odd, long passages that seem to just repeat everything we’ve learned in the rest of the book.

                  Here’s a scholarly tip: All of Rand’s novels are also about whaling.

                  1. You’re not very bright.

                    1. If you don’t understand that Rand was obsessed with whales, you haven’t been reading very closely.

                    2. You’re not very bright.

        2. I enjoy the 1930 movie version of Moby Dick. It’s actually based on an earlier movie called The Sea Beast (Ahab played by John Barrymore in both films), but was presumably given the title Moby Dick on the theory it would make more people come into the theaters. In The Sea Beast, and consequently in the 1930 version of Moby Dick, Ahab kills the whale and gets the girl at the end!

          1. “Ahab kills the whale and gets the girl at the end!”
            Imagine how much happier the girl would have been if the whale got the girl!
            Hey, rather! Fuck you.

    4. Walmart is a disease? Who comes up with this crap?

      Victims of the fraud Walmart represents?

  7. IMO, liberals are at their dumbest when the subject of Wal-Mart comes up (and that is saying a lot).

  8. To stay in good stead with UFCW Local 1500, Scott Stringer and his colleagues are pretty much compelled to oppose Walmart as vehemently as they can manage.

    I always wondered why politicians were opposed to Wal Mart. Wouldn’t they want better, cheaper, more diverse services to provide for their constituencies? Alas, I keep forgetting that they aren’t a union shop.

    1. I can’t think of a more worthless union (for their workers) than UFCW. But they sure know how to extort mom-and-pop outlets.

      1. No IF. Don’t you know that Wal Mart runs mom-and-pop outlets out of business? Unions would never do anything to harm dear old mom and pop.

        1. Unions are mom and pop organizations. SEIU told us.

  9. shrink-wrapped value-packs of recycled porn magazines

    OK, first off, I’m not a regular consumer of these items, but why would someone want a recycled p0rn mag? Wouldn’t there be a high risk of, uh, someone else’s residue on them?

    …a 2007 report from New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene argued…”Approximately 2 in 3 food stores in East and Central Harlem are bodegas,” it reported, and these bodegas had “a more limited product selection than supermarkets and other stores do.” According to the report, only 3 percent of the bodegas in East and Central Harlem carried leafy green vegetables. Only 30 percent carried low-fat milk.

    Secondly, “mental hygiene”? WTF? They couldn’t just have named themselves the “Department of Health,” if that’s what they meant, FFS?

    Thirdly, seriously? Counting bodegas and inventorying their merchandise? Somebody thought that was a legitimate use of public funds? Thanks, Bureaucrat Obvious, for pointing out that bodegas have a more limited selection than a larger supermarket. Nobody would ever have known that if you hadn’t conducted your study and told everybody.

    I guess the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be happier if bodegas started selling small amounts of organic fruits and vegetables at high prices. Better yet, have “farmer’s markets” come out a few times a week and block all the streets, selling $5/lb heirloom tomatoes and the like. Harlem would slim down and be off the insulin immediately. Problem totally solved! *eyeroll*

    Who needs evil Walmart selling organic produce when you can buy it from a sanctimonious local closet case at twice the price?

    1. “Secondly, “mental hygiene”? WTF? They couldn’t just have named themselves the “Department of Health,” if that’s what they meant, FFS?”

      They didn’t want to have to change the department’s name once they are able to open reeducation camps.

  10. This article is a reason not to come to Reason, though there are many others that draw me. It is simply a right wing attack, not a libertarian discussion.

    I love the libertarian side of this publication, even though I often disagree with it. But this kind of “WalMart good, eco-friendly poop paper, oohh aaahh” right wing crap should be relegated to Hannity and not here.

    1. “But this kind of “WalMart good, eco-friendly poop paper, oohh aaahh” right wing crap should be relegated to Hannity and not here.”

      OK, now that you’ve slopped innuendo all over the floor, what’s your point?

    2. I’m failing to grasp what’s “right-wing” about this article. It’s just a business that wants to make money by satisfying a demand. That’s “right-wing” now?!

    3. This article is well within the libertarian sphere of discussion, in a general sense that governmental power is increasing in pernicious ways.

      a.) Mr. Stringer is contradicting findings that his same government produced. Findings paid for by NYC taxpayers to supposedly benefit those taxpayers.

      b.) Mr. Stringer is using his power and influence as a government servant to deny his constituents better, cheaper, and more diverse services.

      c.) Reason’s tag line is “Free Minds and Free Markets”. This is an example of government obstruction of a free market for groceries in Harlem.

    4. Reason was so much better under Postrel.

      amirite?

      Concern troll is concerned.

  11. I think what really bugs people about Wal-Mart isn’t the low prices or that they aren’t built by union laborers. I think it’s that they exploit cheap overseas labor and leverage those cost savings to build super stores so completely convenient and stocked full of Chinese junk that people think they need. Where else can you get your tires rotated, oil changed, toys, organic baby food, cookware, a TV, computer, and the latest Justin Beiber CD? This convenience closes down mom and pop shops even if they have comparable prices. I think that’s what irks people. Giant corps like Wal-Mart are able to leverage political sway and convenience because of their massive amount of capital.. I think if we did away with a lot of government subsidies and misguided regulations we could enable mom and pop shops to be more competitive. I generally don’t think it’s a good thing when a Wal-Mart super store opens up and then all the local oil change, tire, mom and pop grocery shops get closed down. You have turned several decent well paying jobs making a few people a handsome living and supporting a few more into a bunch of crappy minimum wage jobs that people feel less personal attachment to due to the far away nature of the giant corporation.

    1. ALMOST EVERYTHING WE BUY EVERYWHERE IS MADE BY CHEAP LABOR.

      Pardon the caps, but it needed saying. Target’s stuff mostly comes from China. Heck, most of Saks’ stuff probably does, too.

      1. I feel the same way about most of those stores too..

        All I know is that I grew up in a rural town full of mom and pop shops and then a Wal-Mart Super Center opened up and nearly every small town shop closed down. It wasn’t pretty watching people that I went to church and school with all having to sell their stores and even packup and leave town while all my friends had to get jobs at the Wal-Mart. Back then people didn’t demand accountability out of Wal-Mart either and they treated their employees like disposable trash. It seems like they treat them better now though.

        Bottom line is Wal-Mart doesn’t care about anything but Wal-Mart and I prefer to shop somewhere where the grocer knows my name, and the guy that cuts the meat knows how I like my steaks cut and tries to do a good job because he believes in customer service. I like to buy my clothes from someone who gets their stock from suppliers in the US and stocks goods that are made in the US that way I can help keep my neighbors working. It’s the best part of the “free market” I demand friendly service and made in America goods so I buy them and it keeps someone supplying them..

        1. Gee, when I was growing up, the black-smith mad shoes for the horses. And then the train came through, and people could buy the shoes ready-made at 1/4 the price!
          It was sad watching the black-smith have to learn a new trade, but not nearly as sad watching my friend Sam eat some decent food, since his dad didn’t have to spend all his money for horse shoes.
          Heat wrenching….

          1. I’m just saying that is why people don’t like Wal-Mart..

            1. “I’m just saying that is why people don’t like Wal-Mart..”

              Because Sam is eating something?
              OK, seriously, yep, a lot of people are really frightened of change. Any change. And I don’t care; they can huddle under their blankets all day long.
              I do care when those bozos use the power of the government to force me to pay higher prices.
              Oh, and I’ve had really crappy service from mom-and-pop retailers at least as often as WM, Costco, etc.

            2. I shop at target and Walmart once in a while. I won’t lie. But, as I grow older (and have more money), I find myself doing exactly what you do. I shop and dine at places where I receive great customer service. This level of service comes at a premium and I am willing to pay this premium. That is the essence of the free market. I am free to spend my dollars where I choose. That being said, the assholes in Harlem are keeping cheaper groceries out for political purposes only. If the Bodegas provide such a great service, they will stay in business. Last time I checked Whole Foods is expanding along with Wallmart. Why? Because some consumers have more money and Whole Foods does a great job of marketing to a different segment of the population

          2. I hate when people out-sarcasm me!

        2. They didn’t HAVE to get jobs at walmart.

          However, not shopping there is your consumer choice. If everyone felt the same way, walmart would have failed in your town and the more expensive, less convenient stores would have stayed open because the people would have valued this over the cheaper goods.

          However, they did not.

        3. Could you pack more tropes into two paragraphs?

          Small town? Check.
          Mom and Pop? Check.
          Had to close? Check.
          Know my butcher? Check.

          It’s as if people are forced to shop there, or apply for jobs there.

        4. I like to buy my clothes from someone who gets their stock from suppliers in the US and stocks goods that are made in the US that way I can help keep my neighbors working. It’s the best part of the “free market”

          I confess that I’m relieved to pick up something that I like at a store and find that it’s made in the U.S., and I never shop at Brawl-Mart, but if you really like a “free market” as much as you say you do, then you have to admit that the mom-and-pop stores don’t magically die just because Walmart arrives in town; they go out of business because the townsfolk choose to shop at the Walmart instead of the mom-and-pops.

          It is true that government regulation is a lot more of a threat to smaller businesses than megacorps like Walmart.

          1. They don’t. They disappear because it’s easier to all in one shop at Wal-Mart, and that’s not a bad thing.. But its a reason for people to not like them. What a land owner does with his land is no concern of mine so long as it doesn’t infringe on my rights..

            1. “But its a reason for people to not like them.”
              Help yourself, but the article refers to using government power to keep Walmart out.

        5. Then don’t shop at Wal Mart. The millions of people who do like it, will.

        6. How much of Wal Mart’s success is do to concentrated political influence that is able to extract concessions from local governments in ways that more diffuse interests are not.

          Specifically, in So Cal cities fall all over themsleves to give tax abatements, zoning and safety reg exemptions, unfunded infrastructure improvements and “liberal” use of imminent domain to facilitate big box stores of 50,000sq ft+ while exhibiting explicit hostility towards small businesses.

          For example, several years ago during a warehouse expansion at an industrial facility I was forced by the city to get permits including engineering reports for 12′ tall pallet racks at a cost exceeding $30,000. This was for an essentially unoccupied warehouse. A few months later the same city waived all of those (and many many other) requirements and fees for a retail warehouse style chain store. So the warehouse that would be used by one forklift driver for a couple of hours a day was considered more dangerous by city planners than a similar warehouse that would have hundreds to thousands of retail visitors, including children, every day.

      2. I work at a plumbing warehouse. The most expensive stuff we sale comes from Vietnam.

          1. Easily modified to full-flow toilets? Showerheads with removable flow-restrictors? 6-head “Rainstorm” shower units?

            What sort of law-breaking are you encouraging?!?!?

    2. I know Thomas Jefferson and let me tell you, you’re no Thomas Jefferson.

    3. You have turned several decent well paying jobs making a few people a handsome living and supporting a few more into a bunch of crappy minimum wage jobs that people feel less personal attachment to due to the far away nature of the giant corporation.

      And you’ve given everyone in the community significant cost savings and convenience.

    4. “I think it’s that they exploit cheap overseas labor and leverage those cost savings to build super stores so completely convenient and stocked full of Chinese junk that people think they need. ”

      And I presume *you* are the one to decide what people need?
      Get lost.

    5. that people think they need

      And that should be the end of it. Don’t like WalMart don’t shop there.

    6. So, wait, Walmart is providing services, products, and prices people want? The horror.

      I’m all for eliminating subsidies, regulations, and taxes, though. It sounds like your problem is with Big Government (crony capitalism and regulatory capture), not Walmart itself.

      1. Bingo! I don’t care where you shop. I think more places would have a better chance in a true Free Market than in this bureaucratic nightmare..

    7. This convenience closes down mom and pop shops even if they have comparable prices.

      Is there empirical evidence that shows this to be true? Anecdotally, in the town in Indiana where I grew up, all the mom-and-pop operations had closed shop 15 years before they built a Wal Mart in town. Wal Mart may have an adverse effect on shops that were surviving on the margins. But my gut tells me that Wal Mart has a more stimulative effect on a local economy than a collection of marginal mom-and-pops. If you have any good data on the local effects of Wal Mart, please post a link. I would be very interested.

      1. I personally like having family-owned businesses and more local variety, too, but I also don’t want to lose out on reasonably priced goods. I think where this is going is that the family businesses are becoming more boutique in nature or, to some extent, moving to web-based operations.

        In any event, except for ending subsidies and other aspects of crony capitalism, I don’t see that there’s much that can be done while still preserving the remnants of the free market.

      2. Wal-Marts actually tend to attract other businesses to the area, particularly those that cater to niche or specialty products and services that Wal-Mart doesn’t fill. The Wal-Mart acts as a traffic magnate, bringing more people into an area, and other businesses open up in order to take advantage of that.

  12. I thought everyone in urban areas survived off of dim sum, lobster mac-n-cheese, and cupcakes sold out of food trucks these days.

  13. I thought everyone in urban areas survived off of dim sum, lobster mac-n-cheese, and cupcakes sold out of food trucks these days.

  14. OMG!!
    I just noticed that the bananas I bought at Walmart today bear a red and yellow sticker that reads:

    ALVIN
    and The Chipmunks
    Chipwrecked
    THE MOVIE

    And some sort of cell-phone scan-thingie for “ringtones”!

    What should I do? What should I do?!

    1. Consume as you have been commanded to do!

    2. “What should I do? What should I do?!”

      Mosey on over to “Mom and Pop Foodstore” and take a look at their bananas; odds-on bet they bought their stock at Walmart this morning and they didn’t bother to peel the labels off.

  15. Politicians’ antipathy to Walmart stems from their union loyalties. When you consider that most politicians rely on unions for campaign contributions and votes, there can be no other rational reason they would deny their constituents a chance at jobs and access to a wide variety of inexpensive goods.

    Like hundreds of thousands of Americans trying to stretch a budget, I gladly shop at Walmart. A couple of positive observations: (1)Walmart employs a lot of disabled people who are unfailingly helpful and seem to enjoy their jobs. (2)My 88 year old mother shops at Walmart and the minute she wheels her walker in the door she is greeted by helpful associates who escort her around the store and help her shop. Shopping would be a daunting, if not impossible, task if she had to visit several small, expensive stores just to obtain what she can economically purchase in one trip to Walmart.

  16. Tereza is a drama student from the Czech Republic who is looking for a bigger stage to perform on. Her first love was the theatre. That was where she made her first shy moves into the limelight.

    From there this fresh faced young girl has just begun to branch out into some modelling for carefully selected fine art studios. She is a natural for the camera with a perfectly proportioned body. Her pale, smooth skin contrasts stunningly with her sleek wavy hair. It tumbles down to her pert breasts as though it is embracing her. Her voluptuous looks have a suggestion of Italy, the country she is in love with.

    Tereza has an air of youthful innocence. But remember the old phrase, “Dimple on the chin, devil within.” Like the budding actress she is, Tereza is keeping us guessing what’s next. We are sure it will be a show stopper.

    http://www.hegre-art.com/models#action=show&id=218

    1. first|12.29.11 @ 6:57PM|#
      “Tereza is a drama student…”

      Well, she did take “dance” in high school.

    2. Heh. heh. Landing strip. Hehehe.

      1. That wasn’t indended to be inuendo but okay.

        1. first, I wish all the spammers were like you.

          1. Thank you, I hope that one day all practioners of the spammer trade can learn to tastefully and tactfully sell their wares without being abnoxious and become a fully intergerted part of the ecosystem of comment threads.

  17. Our system of private property in land FORCES landless men to work for others; to work in factories, stores, and offices, whether they like it or not. Wherever access to land is free, men work only to provide what they actually need or desire. Wherever the white man has come in contact with savage cultures this fact becomes apparent. There is for savages in their native state no such sharp distinction between “work” and “not working” as clocks and factory whistles have accustomed the white man to accept. They cannot be made to work regularly at repetitive tasks in which they have no direct interest except by some sort of duress. Disestablishment from land, like slavery, is a form of DURESS. The white man, where slavery cannot be practiced, has found that he must first disestablish the savages from their land before he can FORCE them to work steadily for him. Once they are disestablished, they are in effect starved into working for him and into working as he directs.

    ~Dr. Ralph Borsodi
    This Ugly Civilization (1929, Simon and Schuster)

    1. If we call it freedom, then it has to be.

      Because Libertarians don’t have the personal responsibility to live a Non-State society lifeway.

      Government for me, but not for thee!

  18. The one problem I have with the article is Beato’s use of the phrase “food justice activists” without any ironic quotes. “Food justice”? What the fuck does that even mean?

    1. Dipshits who protest the legality of foie gras.

        1. Oh so cosmo Liberarians hold the same hierarchical thinking as Biblical Literalists, even though science demonstrates other animals are moral players too.

          Frans de Waal, (1996). Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

          1. WOW

            White Indian is a Paleo-Vegan.

            1. Domestication is the problem. Do you even know what domestication means?

  19. Hi guys! Wally here. Thanks for finally noticing that we spell it “Walmart” now, not Wal*Mart. It only took you two years, but hey! You’re libertarians. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Speaking of sharp things, have you checked out our awesome Gerber hunting knives? 25% off now through Sunday!

  20. “…”bodegas,” or that place up the block where one sad rotting banana and a can of Spaghetti-O’s, vintage 2009, serve as d?cor for the merchandise that really moves there: booze, tobacco, lottery tickets…”

    I hereby cancel my subscription to your racist newsletter.

  21. So let me get this straight. If you want to build a victory monument to terrorism right next to ground zero that is fine. But a Walmart. Nope. Fuck you, you fuckty fucking liberals!

  22. the point isn’t “is walmart good or bad”…

    the point is that CONSUMERS make that choice, not govt.

    period.

    i could wax lyrical about the “sack the Mac(donald’s)” campaign in martha’s vineyard which beat this walmart crap by decades.

  23. Scenario.. Our country actually begins to execute fair trade. America’s small business would now be able to compete with the “current” crony corporatism Walmart currently maintains. How can a product made in the US be more expensive than what comes from across the oceans? Fair trade right? Walmart’s monopoly would collapse with Fair Trade. There only advantage at this point would be bulk buying, however they no longer could SQUEEZE the businesses to drastically drop profits to match low prices. The cheap stuff is now off the market to compete with. Fair Trade is the answer to this argument.

  24. “New York City politicians should drop their misguided war on the retail giant.”
    Right! You can’t fix stupid.

  25. Legislation cannot solve the problem of the country becoming one giant box store. Change can only happen at the consumer level. Unfortunately, most consumers do not do enough research and/or care enough about our economy to stop shopping at big box stores. And, the so-called system of capitalism must be fixed before any of this can take place. Won’t happen unless Paul gets the presidency.

    1. Demolitionman- All restaurants are Taco Bell..

  26. What in bloody hell is a “food justice activist?” For that matter, what the hell is “food justice?”

  27. Maybe someone already made the point, but this troll’s issue is with the Chinese government (and perhaps communism in general), but he insists that Wal Mart is the real perpetrator. Whenever people blame capitalism for the “exploitation” or “enslavement” of people, they neglect to acknowledge that it is actually the complete lack of a capitalist system that permits those things.

  28. A very well reported article. Thank you for taking the time to do this research.

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