Monday, January 09, 2006

Is Wal-mart Good for America

I must admit I don't have all the details and knowledge of the relevant issues in this debate over Wal-mart and its economic impact on the lives of people across the world. Nevertheless, the more I learn about the issues and watch news reports like PBS - Frontline's "Is Wal-mart Good for America", I can't help but come to the conclusion that clearly Wal-mart has been tremendously beneficial to American and world economies. The Frontline report - despite its attempts to be objective - displayed a veiled but transparent bias against the Wal-mart position. And even through that, I could see the many admirable qualities of this retail giant. It seems to me that people isolate what the retail giant has become today from its historical contexts, and they simply attack it as if it were always this mega-monolith of a structure. One should remember that Wal-mart started out a small and innocuous little store on a street in Arkansas, and the man behind store simply dreamed big. In those days, there were other giants sleeping in their parking lots - giants like Sears and K-mart. Whatever the criticism - one must admit Mr. Walton's brilliant maneuvering of doing business in an efficient system that America had never seen before. In Frontline's report, all of Wal-mart's critics were ironically consistent in praising the efficiency of the new production and supply system that Wal-mart pioneered. Ofcourse, the rewards for such brilliant innovation, ruthless competition, and great value-exchange is that Wal-mart today is the most successful business in the world. The critics keep cribbing about the "ruthlessness" of the competition, the loss of entitlement wages and jobs, the reckless profit-motive that drives the Wal-mart business strategy, and I have to wonder - well, it's a business, for god's sake! If not the profit-motive, then what?! If not an open market of competition for goods and labor, then what?! Anyway, well, so far I have yet to come across some truly convincing argument that Wal-mart is bad for America and the world. Incidentally, Economics Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman considers Wal-mart a blessing to the American and world economies. Personally, I'd prefer to side with the creative/productive mind of Friedman - who speaks with considerable legitimacy in such matters - than take the word of neo-collective-socialist-communist hippies with hollow heads.

3 Comments:

Blogger innommable said...

oh Wal-Mart... only been there once. It didn't seem much different to me than KMart, or Target for that matter. I say, good for him... that guy who owns it, who's making all that money. Good for him. I wish I WAS him... hmmm...

1/09/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want there to still be options BESIDES Walmart in my shopping. For all our choices - shopping has become an utter bore. Being in a Walmart is such a deeply depressing experience. To be avoided at all "costs".

1/26/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Anonymous,

I understand your point about choices and options.
However, the issue here is not whether or not Wal-mart sucks our choices from the market, but whether Wal-mart, as a corporation, is engaged in unethical, illegal, immoral, or questionable practices. To that effect, I have yet to come across any credible evidence that they are.

As far as choices go, you must also distinguish between what choices are crucial to have in a marketplace. Do you want choices between products, or choices among brands, or choices in price-range, or choices among distributors.
Then, you must ask, should your choice be contigent upon whim or because your choice is actually superior (has superior qualities).

1/26/2006 02:52:00 PM  

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