2 Cents doesn’t go as far as it used, but here’s mine anyway

I sympathize with many of the points raised when it comes to the Wal-Mart issue. (Can we call it “Wal-MartGate?) I can see how easy and seemingly just it is to take the position she does on some of those issues. It can be easy to recognize and treat the symptom while the illness goes ignored. In this case, however, even the illness turns out to only be a bruise on the arse from falling off a horse. America is changing and adapting to best serve its citizens, and Wal-Mart epitomizes everything good and noble in our pursuit to ride off into the sunset without falling off that horse.

OK, maybe that last sentence was a stretch. I don’t even shop at Wal-Mart. And I know what you’re thinking – no, it’s not because Amber won’t let me. I just choose not to. And it’s a great choice to have. But some people would rather you not have that choice. You see, I don’t see how it’s any better to oppress Wal-Mart and force people into paying higher prices at the Ma & Pop stores. In fact, it’s just as “evil.” But I’m getting ahead of myself, because this kind of argument usually doesn’t appeal to the emotional thinkers that, for all its bigness and success and image, hate Wal-Mart. You can’t pit emotion against emotion, because either no one ever wins or both sides end up surrendering. So I’ll take us into the happy land of Facts and Numbers – won’t you come with me?

Almost 2 years ago, a shiny new Wal-Mart opened up just outside Chicago. When this Wal-Mart opened, over 25,000 people applied for only 325 job openings.
Wal-Mart, the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the entirety of mankind, has almost as many employees (1.3 million) as the U.S. military has uniformed personnel.
That one goes down hard, doesn’t it, Mr. or Ms. Naysayer. How about this one.
By lowering consumer prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates.

Wow! 25,000 people can’t be wrong.

A McKinsey company study concluded that Wal-Mart accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s, which probably made Wal-Mart about as important as the Federal Reserve in holding down inflation.

It’s amazing to see a private entity doing as much to fight inflation as the Fed.

Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion a year, dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion) and the earned-income tax credit ($34.6 billion).
Wait, is that another private organization doing more to help the middle- and lower-class than welfare or the EITC (which I actually don’t have a huge problem with in practice).

But here’s one of my favorite ones, and it’s one that address the job quality and job benefits issue of Wal-Mart employment opportunities.
People who by groceries at Wal-Mart save a minimum of 17%. That’s enough to attract 1/5 of the nations grocery-buying consumers. But other grocery store unions don’t like that, and instead of actually competing with Wal-Mart (which would speak to the integrity capitalism and help consumers) they go crying to the Democrats, demanding laws to force Wal-Mart into paying wages and benefits. Now remember, these are wages and benefits that are already good enough to attract 25,000 people for only 325 jobs. These jobs are more than suitable for job-seekers at large, and are even envied and sought after. But most importantly (and this may sound weird at first, but it is an important fact) health-care and certain wage minimums are not rights that any of us have. I don’t have a right to affordable health care. There is no provision in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says anyone has the right to health care. It’s the government’s role to “secure these rights,” meaning our inalienable rights, and so certain benefits under certain circumstances must be available, and we must get paid for our labor – but for the government to dictate how much is immoral. Let the market do that, and if it’s a problem with the people, then there’s no way a Wal-Mart could possibly survive.

I hope you don’t mind if I turn into a loud-mouthed, snarky, insufferable conservative for a moment longer, but this is a matter of Liberals lording over the people, taking choice and accountability out of their hands. Liberals see the choices Americans are making with their dollar, and yes, their ballots, and they declare Americans are in dire need of more and more supervision (of course, supervision by Liberals). If it’s not Wal-Mart, it’s McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. Why, just last week I had Ronald McDonald accost me and literally shove two quarter-pounders down my throat. That’s why America is obese – rampant force-feeding clowns!
Of course, that’s absurd – but how else could Democrats claim to have the right to dictate how many trans-fats are in our food, or how many Burger Kings are allowed into our cities, or how hot or cool we can keep our houses, or which physicians we can see and for which ailments?
And so now, they have us all convinced that Wal-Mart is an evil, corporate predator and that they must be stopped from forcefully corralling us into their stores and physically compelling us to partake of their lower prices. The problem with that is, we aren’t being forced to do anything. Wal-Mart has every right – and even a moral responsibility – to do exactly what those Ma & Pop stores are trying to do. And if those Ma & Pop stores throw in the towel and refuse to compete, or adapt, or even try, then shame on them. I choose not to shop at Wal-Mart because I value individualized customer service and more intimate retail experiences. That’s all any Ma & Pop store needs to do to get my business, and I know I’m not alone.

So if you hate Wal-Mart, don’t call them evil for offering lower consumer prices to those who need it. Don’t call them tyrants for stimulating the job market in a way no other entity can. Don’t call them predators for putting $200 Billion back into consumers’ pockets. Hate them for being a big, faceless box. For being ugly and unpleasant. And do what my wife faithfully does and don’t shop there. And especially don’t get on anyone else’s case for shopping there.

Here are a couple of articles I got my info from. You might even notice some crafty “re-working” of actual creative content. My high school teachers taught me well. And these articles even cover some ground that I didn’t.

Please, please, please pay particular attention to the sentiment expressed in the final paragraph of the first linked article (the one on townhall.com). It reveals what I believe to be a fundamental flaw in the Liberal way of thinking. Yes, it’s a much-too-broad and perhaps unfair illustration of the flawed conceit of Liberalism, but it’s revealing nonetheless.
In case it’s not yet obvious to anyone else – yes, I am often a total jerk when it comes to talking politics. I’m the most tactful person I know when it comes to any other aspect of life (just ask my wife), but I turn into Mr. Hyde’s cycnical black-sheep brother when it comes to stuff like this. I apologize if anyone ever gets offended (it’s not my intent at all), but I don’t apologize for what I say.


7 thoughts on “2 Cents doesn’t go as far as it used, but here’s mine anyway

  1. Ah, but the devil is in the details which those stats you list ignore. For example, the abundance of jobs Wal-Mart creates are much more poorly poorly compensated than those lost, and further creates a depressing effect on the overall compensation in the local communities. While shoppers at Wal-Mart save money, the quality of the product (particularly when you’re talking foodstuffs) tends to be worse. And the money that goes into Wal-mart flows out of the local community, rather than rotating around and increasing its effect on the local economy. Don’t worry; I intend to address this more fully and with citations in a later anti-corporate post on my own blog.As to your snarky comments about liberalism, I’ll assume it to be naivety on your part and ignore it;)

  2. I thought this was Wes and Amber’s blog, how did Paul Merten get in here?I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that Republicans sponsored legislation to ban trans-fats were in our food. Oh, wait, I’m right. But I’m glad that you’re not getting on my case for shopping at Walmart because I do on occassion. Just don’t tell the Liberals because they’ll just kick me right out of the Democrat party. Those Democrats are always dictating what we do – well, except for morality because that’s where all those Conservatives pick up.

  3. Oh, and I must also say that I totally support my wife in her Green movement. I think it’s wonderful and awesome. That’s why I married up, because I was counting on her to improve on the person I was. Being environmentally conscious and globally aware really is the way to go. I don’t mind the inflated grocery bill, babe! Besides, the stuff really is of a higher quality (ala Derek’s comment above).

  4. In response to Derek, it usually is because of naivety šŸ™‚ You bring up good points, which is part of the reason I understand, and even agree with, some of the counterpoints that my wife and others share. It’s not a marriage made in heaven, that of Wal-Mart and its global dominion, err, I mean takeov- ahh, no, I mean “presence.” But for the government to impede it would be a greater immorality.Some people are not only happy and willing to pay lower prices for less quality, but they have no other choice. And those same people oftentimes aren’t professionally qualified for those other jobs with higher benefits and higher wages. I know I often had to settle for fewer benefits and lower wages when I didn’t have a degree and was a student.It is a shame that some money does leave the communities, but would much of it really stay otherwise? Who else locally can stimulate the kind of consumer spending that Wal-Mart does? Derek’s the best home teacher Amber and I have ever had. He’s truly someone who leads by righteous example. Anna – even I have a good chuckle over just how far right Paul is! I think he’s sometimes worried about being so open-minded that his brain will fall out. I, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about that – you’ve got to have a brain in the first place :)For the record, those aren’t my Republicans trying to pass that kind of legislation. Just one of Guliani’s political flaws. Let us all think for ourselves, Rudy! I’m sure we’d all agree that there ridiculous flaws with both the so-called Left and Right.But it’s like I’ve always said, Anna – “We all need a little Paul Merten in us, but only if there’s also a little Anna Shirley to keep his ass in check!”

  5. In my opinion it comes down to this:Capitalism. End of discussion.Let me briefly clarify. We are all drivers of this capitalistic market. From the bed we sleep on to the breakfast we eat, to the shower we take, to the car we drive, to the fuel we use (green or not), to the job we have, to the clothes we wear, to the house we own, to the energy we use. . .and on and on. We are all simply cogs in one big capitalistic machine. And it’s a beautiful machine. Picture it like a game. We have the rule makers (legislation) who determine what the perimeters of the game are. We are all players in that game. From the Ma and Pap stores to the Wal-Marts, we’re all just players. So if the rules have been set, and each player follows those rules. Where is the issue? Now we’re going to do a little exercise:Picture a long sandy beach full of people equally dispersed from one end to another. If you were and Ice Cream vendor where would you set up shop? Right in the middle, right? That way everyone can equally access your cart. Well, what happens when a second vendor shows up? Where does he (assuming it’s a he) go? The obvious choice is right next to the 1st vendor. All’s well and good because now the beach is being equally divided. Children and adults alike are loving the ice cream and each of the vendors are loving their half of the beach. Now a third vendor arrives. Where does he go? . . .think about this one now. . . The answer is, on either side of one of the first two vendors. Now we’re in a pickle. The beach cannot be shared between all three because someone get’s the pinch. He get’s squeezed in between the two other vendors. Now he is hosed because no one is buying his ice cream. He goes bankrupt, he has to sell his cart and his kids go hungry. Here’s the question: Do we fault either of the two vendors for putting the 3rd out of business? Oh hell no. It’s a competitive market, each vendor is out for himself. . .within the confines of the rules, of course.In any market you have two demands that WE, as consumers create. The need for high quality goods and the need for low cost products. These are the two vendors pinching everyone. In any given mature market you really only have 2 competitors. Can we fault them? Absolutely not. Not when WE are the ones creating the demand. Listen, the Wal-Mart issue is old and tired, cliche argument. Wal-mart is such an easy target. Their big and they do stupid things sometimes. But do the pros out weigh the cons? I’m not dumb enough to take a stand on that one. But ask yourself this: Pepsi goes up to a underfunded school district as says “Here’s a $2,000,000 grant if you put a Pepsi dispenser in each of your school cafeterias. Now you have to ask your self: “Is the pro greater than the con”. I don’t want my kid to be addicted to sugar, but is that a worthy risk if she is taught by higher paid teachers with new books and new newer technology (provided by the grant)? My point is, nothing is black or white, wrong or right. Under a microscope, sure, it’s easy to make those judgements. Pepsi in schools is BAD. But what is the bigger picture? Eventually a line has to be drawn in the sand somewhere. But that line, by no means, separates white from black. Unfortunately it’s just one big, unending plane of different shades of grey.But we can’t just pick on Wal-Mart, if we’re going to wage a holy battle against ‘false gods’. All big box stores are equally as uncommunity friendly as Wal-Mart. Do we stop shopping at all of them? Costco, Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, (yes) Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble. . .And if we’re gonna stop buying at big box stores, then we cannot support ‘big business’ either for fear of being hypocratic. So b-bye all gasoline companies, car companies, Insurance companies, Investment firms, shoe companies, . . . hell, take a listing of all Fortune 500 companies and throw a dart. Where do we end in our crusade?Who cares if each of these player have fairly played our little game called capitalism.My point is this: The fight against Wal-Mart is a fight that is being waged on the wrong field. If you really want change, Wal-mart shouldn’t be the scapegoat. . .or any participant in ‘Big Business’. The Players of the game are not the problem. The rules are. The only way to really instill change is to change the rules. It’s not fair to offer a carrot and slap the first one who gets to it. Buy local first. That’s my simple mantra. I respect Wal-Mart. I respect their business decisions. And, contrary to popular belief, they didn’t get there solely by back-stabbing and cheating, burning villages on their way up the ladder. You don’t get where they are at unless you are absolutely brilliant, business-wise. Do I shop there. . not if I can help. We just recently remodelled out home, making it as green as possible along the way. Where did we get out Energy-Star appliances, insulation, windows and energy efficient furnace . . .Home Depot.It’s all one big colluded mess. The only question we need to ask ourselves is where have we drawn OUR line in the sand.

  6. the hotel-beach game…not that clever. We should change the rules that’s right, but we should take on Walmart also. Your only way to “change the rules” is through exit (no longer shopping there) or voice (protesting against) you praise exit, but wine against voice. If enough people complain against walmart then it creates bad press against them for not allowing full time workers (so they don’t have to pay them) or many of the other short cuts they take. Walmart has changed because of voice (not exit, as their profits have shown) so when we wine and complain against walmart we are making them accountable, and we are also helping all other businesses be more responsible, not just walmart. We are also changing the rules cuz if enough wine, then government changes the rules and writes laws that force walmart to behave better, and all other companies. So screw walmart, and screw our government for not making companies behave appropriately (e.g. wages, healthcare etc.)

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