1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5799/the-grave-crimes-of-wal-mart/

The Grave Crimes of Wal-Mart

October 24, 2006 by

Wal-Mart is akin to McDonald’s. It is apotheosis of everything wrong with America. Entering the maw of a Wal-Mart is creepy. Any normal person over the age of 40 viscerally feels, as the cornucopia of junk and tatterdemalion illegal immigrants who shop there deluge his eyes, that something is horribly wrong beneath the garish consumerism and materialism. Well, something is wrong. The company knows no loyalty…. Wal-Mart is subsidizing the destruction of America. Libertarians and so-called conservatives support the endeavor. Some of us dare call that treason.

Wow, one would never guess that Wal-Mart is guilty of nothing other than making a profit by selling stuff that people want at prices that people can afford. The crime additionally singled out in the editorial above is that its foundation gave money to the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute—along with the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza. No, none to the Mises Institute, sorry to report.

Ok, now the guessing game. Where did the comment above appear? No, not the Workers World or the CPUSA, as you might gathered from the way in which its socialism is mixed with nationalist tones, but Chronicles, November 2006, p. 7.

{ 24 comments }

Dennis Sperduto October 24, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Both the economic and moral arguments that attempt to single out Wal-Mart as some great evil are rubbish.

The disgust, if not hatred of Wal-Mart that exists across a wide range of the ideological spectrum is substantially animated by the unfortunately all too prevalent human traits of jealously and envy, in addition to the strong desire of the large majority of individuals to force their particular socio-economic viewpoints on others. The so-called intellectuals and opinion molders are generally the worst offenders.

Dan Coleman October 24, 2006 at 1:50 pm

Wal-Mart is subsidizing the destruction of America.

Well, of course Wal-Mart is subsidizing the destruction of America; they have to pay taxes just like everyone else.

Kevin Brancato October 24, 2006 at 3:03 pm

Entering the mind of that author, however briefly, was creepy. Any normal person viscerally feels, reading the cornucopia of junk economics and tatterdemalion evidence, that something is horribly wrong beneath the garish constructions and prolixity.

Boy, do I miss writing about Wal-Mart’s critics.

steve October 24, 2006 at 3:12 pm

At times, the Right and the Left display a common hatred for individuals exercising free choice, especially when it differs from their value scale. Both factions are uncomfortable with the consequences of liberty.

M E Hoffer October 24, 2006 at 3:21 pm

“Both factions are uncomfortable with the consequences of liberty.”

Interesting, maybe they are objecting to the conditions, under which, the vast majority of their(WMT’s) “stuff that people want at prices that people can afford”, are manufactured.

RogerM October 24, 2006 at 4:53 pm

The Chronicles web site claims that “…the Institute has worked to preserve the institutions of the Christian West: the family, the Church, and the rule of law; private property, free enterprise…”

Interesting way to defend free enterprise.

Reactionary October 24, 2006 at 5:16 pm

“Wow, one would never guess that Wal-Mart is guilty of nothing other than making a profit by selling stuff that people want at prices that people can afford.”

Pornographers, crack dealers and hit men can all make the same claim so this alone does not make Wal-Mart praiseworthy. Would a business of the scope and scale of Wal-Mart exist without an interstate highway system and federalized trade? I doubt it. Aesthetically speaking, Wal-Mart is emblematic of a culture that values quantity over quality.

quincunx October 24, 2006 at 7:51 pm

“Would a business of the scope and scale of Wal-Mart exist without an interstate highway system and federalized trade? I doubt it”

I felt this was coming at any moment now.

How do you justify your doubt? We can’t exactly trace back history and see what would have happended in the absense of critical government interventions.

What if I say that in such an absense general all-purpose stores would even be bigger and better, have larger scale and scope. Can you really say that a free market in roads and trade would have done less in the last 200 years?

Why is your speculation any better than mine?

State subsidies accrue to all factors that use them. How does WalMart get an advantage over other big box stores? (evident tax exemptions for adhoc cases aside)

The state distorts transportation to the highways, but a market forms around that distortion. Every consumer of the road then gets an advantage, but some get more than others, however how does WalMart magically gain an advantage in their shipping procedures over other similar shippers?. Do WalMart trucks get a higher subsidy than the small busineses that pay a trucking company to do their shipping? or other companies that own their own trucking fleets?

No, I would think not. The trucking industries in general get the subsidy, and all the factors of production are influced from this imputation.

“Aesthetically speaking, Wal-Mart is emblematic of a culture that values quantity over quality.”

But that is just inflation in action. This is not culture, but government in action, causing the people to obtain their ends with an ever depleting monetary resource.

Everyone wants a great quantity of quality, you can’t seperate them and compare them, since they are subjective anyway.

Daniel M. Ryan October 24, 2006 at 8:15 pm

“Any normal person over the age of 40 viscerally feels, as the cornucopia of junk and tatterdemalion illegal immigrants who shop there deluge his eyes, that something is horribly wrong beneath the garish consumerism and materialism.”

Well, those illegal immigrants have to shop somewhere…

Nick Bradley October 24, 2006 at 8:46 pm

quincunx, reactionary,

Chains other than Wal-Mart have also benefited greatly from generous transportation subsidies. It is no coincidence that the growth of chains has a strong correlation with the growth of the highway system.

The loser, of course (other than the taxpayer and the consumer) is the local producer. If it weren’t for government-lowered shipping costs, far more goods would be produced locally.

It is this government-facilitated phenomenon that has people upset at the firm who has taken the biggest advantage of the highway system: Wal-Mart.

And the phenomenon of subsidized shipping is not merely limited to domestic trade. There is n doubt, at least in my mind, that Anglo-American Naval Superiority has subsidized shipping on the high seas for nearly two centuries. Taxpayer-funded airports have subsidized shipment by air, and countless government subsidies to the communications industry have allowed transnational corporations to conduct their operations at a cheaper cost.

vernon October 24, 2006 at 10:46 pm
quincunx October 25, 2006 at 2:05 am

“It is this government-facilitated phenomenon that has people upset at the firm who has taken the biggest advantage of the highway system: Wal-Mart.”

I totally understand your argument, but I still need to see some proof that WalMart got the biggest advantage over anybody (especially other big box retailers) just from the highway system. That is my only concern.

Nick Bradley October 25, 2006 at 6:49 am

quincunx,

“I totally understand your argument, but I still need to see some proof that WalMart got the biggest advantage over anybody (especially other big box retailers) just from the highway system. That is my only concern.”

ALL of the bix box stores recieved an advantage from the highway system. It is just that Wal-Mart was ran by a very smart businessman who knew how to take advantage of it first.

Steven Peterson October 25, 2006 at 9:06 am

The argument of the highway system as a means to achieve retail big-box expansion is somewhat misleading. ALL forms of transportation in the US have had government subsidies – canals, rivers and barge traffic including dams, the railroads (exceot the Great Northern), highways and airports. However, Wal-mart started and expanded and created its niche serving precisely those rural and small town markets that were not on the big super highways, but on the little two-lane local roads that extend over much of rural America. Wal_mart has only recently (last 10-15 years?) begun to aggressively move into suburban and urban markets, especially ones outside its
Southern core.

R. Cort Kirkwood October 25, 2006 at 9:38 am

I wrote the piece to which Mr. Tucker refers. He studiously avoided the major point of the piece: That Wal Mart, like many American corporations, is subsidizing the radical left through its foundation.

This is the same radical left that would destroy the same free market Mr. Tucker and the LVMI want to thrive.

Mr. Tucker’s glib dismissal of Wal Mart’s funding right and left makes it appear as if it funds both sides equally. Of course, that isn’t case, as anyone who takes the times to read the piece will learn (Not that funding the Heritage Foundation is any any sense funding real conservatism).

Wal Mart, again like many American corporations, is trying to pay off the anti-American radical left, in this case, the National Council of La Raza. Five minutes of google searching will tell anyone who writes here whether funding this group of radicals is a good idea. Thus, Mr. Tucker’s opening comment, that “Wal Mart is guilty of nothing other than making a profit by selling stuff that people want at prices that people can afford,” is cavalierly and wrongly dismissive of a serious point.

The point of my piece is that Wal Mart is guilty of a lot more than that, and the evidence I adduce by going over its leftist philanthropy proves my point. Mr. Tucker’s post doesn’t explain that; he merely begs the question.

Last, the idea that I am a “socialist” or a “nationalist,” or anything else those words might imply (given the clever way he put cobbled together his little squib) is preposterous. And he knows it.

I suggest that those wish to comment on the piece read it in its entirety before adding their comments.

jeffrey October 25, 2006 at 9:53 am

Hi R. Cort. I’m really sorry about Wal-Mart’s corporate giving, which is all over the political map. But it’s their money, and it was earned honestly. That you have political differences with some of the recipients is a pretty weak rationale on which to call for the destruction of a great American company.

R. Cort Kirkwood October 25, 2006 at 10:55 am

Again, for those who have not read the piece: I did not “call for the destruction of a great American company.” Wal Mart is funding groups calling for the destruction of the great country in which Wal Mart grew and prospered.

greg October 25, 2006 at 1:25 pm

RCK> Wal Mart is funding groups calling for the destruction of the great country in which Wal Mart grew and prospered.

and…

RCK> Last, the idea that I am a “socialist” or a “nationalist,” or anything else those words might imply (given the clever way he put cobbled together his little squib) is preposterous. And he knows it.

You’re not a “nationalist” and yet your concern is about “the great country.” Hmmm. Where is your article? Anyway, the overview is that it doesn’t matter much since both left and right are statist with no important difference in quality. So-called left wing “progressives” are basically conservative these days since they haven’t had a new idea in… oh… say 80 years. Socialist programs like social security have been absorbed by conservatives.

Murray N. Rothbard: Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty, http://mises.org/journals/lar/pdfs/1_1/1_1_2.pdf from http://mises.org/journals/left-right.asp

If you provide a link to your article, maybe some folks will take their time to read it and make their own judgements.

M E Hoffer October 25, 2006 at 1:35 pm

“Wal Mart is funding groups calling for the destruction of the great country in which Wal Mart grew and prospered.”

including the virtual slave-labor camps that produce much of what it(WMT) sells.

If striking sourcing deals with Communist regimes and other Tyrannies qualifies one for being a “Great American Company”, we should wonder.

quincunx October 25, 2006 at 6:12 pm

“ALL of the bix box stores recieved an advantage from the highway system.”

Yes, I know. My concern was only whether WalMart received a higher subsidy than its direct competitors. My other peripheral concern is whether a real free market, if left alone over the last 200 years would have produced more highways, roads, and more dispersed travel of goods.

“It is just that Wal-Mart was ran by a very smart businessman who knew how to take advantage of it first.”

Aha, so there was an entrepreneurial aspect afterall. They did not really get a higher subsidy, exclusively. I very much doubt they were the ‘first’ in any meaningful sense.

“including the virtual slave-labor camps that produce much of what it(WMT) sells.”

Do they own virtual slave-labor camps exclusively?
Not to suggest that it’s justified.

“If striking sourcing deals with Communist regimes and other Tyrannies qualifies one for being a “Great American Company”, we should wonder.”

Dealing with criminal gangs may be morally reprehensible, but one still has to deal with them. What can a company do, while still remaining profitable? For that matter, how can any influencial ideas be spread if you can’t deal with the criminals?

Jaz October 26, 2006 at 2:24 pm

The author of that article has some material right over here. Enjoy!

M E Hoffer October 26, 2006 at 3:50 pm

quincunx,

could you unpack/explain this: “Dealing with criminal gangs may be morally reprehensible, but one still has to deal with them. What can a company do, while still remaining profitable? For that matter, how can any influencial ideas be spread if you can’t deal with the criminals?”

–a little further?

anarkhos October 26, 2006 at 7:47 pm

Dan Coleman wins the thread, hands down!

Pauli October 29, 2006 at 9:08 pm

“Any normal person over the age of 40 viscerally feels, as the cornucopia of junk and tatterdemalion illegal immigrants who shop there deluge his eyes, that something is horribly wrong beneath the garish consumerism and materialism.”

Aha! I finally understand! I’m 39; if I was born a year earlier I’d have retched, turned-tail and run the very first time I entered the creepy maw of Wal-mart. As it is, I’m blissfully ignorant of another piece of my soul being sucked from my body each time I go through the treasonous checkout line.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: