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The Wal-Mart debate thread

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Posts

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I think that the whole "Small Town, USA" thing is a bit romanticized and vastly overrated.

    It's mostly the whole anti-oligopoly thing. If mega-companies get a big enough foot hold, it because more difficult for innovating start-ups to come around to improve things.

    Upstarts are -very- important to the economy, especially in the long term.

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  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »

    1) I'm not even sure what this is supposed to rebut? They cause unemployment? If so, it's because the job was "unnecessary" and the benefit to the community as a whole outweighs the lose to one individual (though of course we need a social safety net to help these people out and get them back into productive work).

    2) There is no "fair" in economics the way you're trying to use the word. No one is entitled to hold a high paying job when they can't do enoguh work to be worth it. If the 30K manager of Walmart can provide what the community wants better than the 60K manager of a Mom & Pop, then it's "fair" to the community they not have to support the M&P managers dead weight.

    3) This, while certainly true, is irrelevant to the point. Both the profit leaving back to Walmart's national headquarters and the the community savings on goods are percentages of the same exact number (total sales at Walmart). The only way it's a net negative is if Walmart makes a greater profit than the savings they make their consumers.

    4) If the picture frame factor is "bad", as in it isn't competitive with the other picture frames available, then it is better for it to close. The ONLY thing supporting inefficient businesses does is enrich a small group of people at the expense of others when they aren't doing anything to earn that extra wealth.

    It's a bitch that certain communities are exclusviely based around business, and those businesses might be inefficient. I'd love to see some government intervention to try and create a soft landing and get people transitioned to jobs worth doing, but that isn't the country we live in, and that isn't Walmart's fault. Blame them for their flaws, but don't expect us to consider them the root of all evil (without proof at least).

    5) Nice. The fitting end to a lack of proof IS righteous triumph.

    1) was in reply to the "assumption that there are more people than there are jobs" comment. Re read your post and it would make sense.

    2) Re read my post... cause you missed the entire meaning of this. The point is that he is no longer a manager at all... but possibly a cashier, Who makes significantly less. It is true that no one making money is entitled to still make money, but when walmart moves in and makes it impossible for you to compete and make money... How the hell was he supposed to make any?

    3) is relevant... and if you do not feel so then you are ignorant to the problem and should quit before you make yourself seem like a fool. In reply to the comment, it is still negative because per item may save money but long term does not in several cases. This discounts the "saving money" because quality has dropped. I am losing Utility.

    4) How does a plant in some town in the midwest compete with a plant in malaysia? It doesnt. That can get into many debates. Bottom line, walmart chooses to buy from them. Yes that is good business. No it is not very US or rural/industrial community friendly.

    5) points 1-4 make it clear.

    1) Then your post implies Walmart causes unemployment to the point where the overall job market is distorted. I assumed this WASN'T your point because not only has no one actually shown this happens with any regularity, it's only possible in the tiniest markets which are a small fraction of the economy and should be considered on a case by case basis, as opposed to a general Walmart is bad.

    2) Again, "fair" as you are using it is irrelevant. It's a bitch someone loses their job, and I honest to god feel for them, but there is NO good in making a population support someone who can't earn their salary. Beyond not being entitled to have the job you do regardless of whether you can do it well enough, you also aren't guaranteed to find an equivalent job in the same place. There certainly are extenuating circumstances, and again I'd like to see us doing more to help people in that situation, but the end result is that things are better across the board after.

    3) I see what you are saying, but not only is the product quality purely a matter between the store and the customer (as in everyone is free to buy what they want, and Walmart isn't to blame if people want crap), the whole point is irrelevant since the Mom & Pop almost certainly bought and sold exactly the same stuff. The paradox of thrift ISN'T what I was arguing in what you quoted, because it's irrelevant to this comparison, but the net flow of wealth into a community due to Walmart's presence, which is [customer savings] - [Walmart profits] and almost certainly positive.

    4) That's not only not Walmart's fault, it's a trend I'd say is to the greater good of humanity and one of the driving factors behind America's shift to a service based economy. It's a long discussion, but it's better for everyone to buy an equivalent good produced more cheaply in another country versus a pricier good made domestically.

    5) I was more knocking the smug tone, which I felt was somewhat overreaching based on the work you did to get there. Honestly, I wouldn't have said anything if you hadn't numbered and included it.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Like I said, you don't see the importance of local retail capitalist classes, and don't regard the fact that what profits might have originally stayed somewhat in the community are instead shipped out to HQ somewhere else. If you're going to champion efficiency as a sole metric to be maximized, you need to justify that this efficiency comes at the cost of things like local wages, local employment, local competition, the preservation of local capitalists and local suppliers.

    You have not demonstrated anywhere that "reality" fails to conform to "my political beliefs". You've simply asserted, over and over and without justification, that consumer prices and "efficiency" are somehow the only things we should concern ourselves with when it comes to capitalism in the US and world. I understand that ruthless maximization of "efficiency" is in vogue in certain schools of economics, but I think it's a reasonable question to ask what purpose it serves and at what cost.

    And that is what this thread is ultimately about.

    No, and again, I don't see what the good of a local retail capitalist class is when you can't provide any benefit beyond the fact their profits stay local when (and note this part, it's coming around for the third time) that is outweighed by extra cost to the consumers.

    You want to increase the funds that stay in a community by keeping profits local? Feel free to find the flaw in my math. Explain to me exactly how the 5.94% of sales Walmart takes out (thanks to Mithrandir86 for the exact number) is greater than the savings Walmart provides to its customers versus Mom and Pops.

    The ONLY way Walmart is taking more money out of the community is if its profits exceed the savings it gives to it's customers. I'm at a lose as to what else to call it but ignoring reality in favor of belief when you see the sentence above over and over and all you get is I'm asserting without providing any reason. If you can't, or are unwilling to, address the point I've made here, then there's nothing else to talk about.

    Only the 6% isn't necessarily completely the whole story as you must also factor in the money leaving the economy which would otherwise have been spent by the retailer in local services and sourcing local goods, not to mention the blow to the tax base - Wal-Mart negotiates local taxes from a real position of strength, and declining wages and local profits sap the ability of local governments to do much of anything.

    Yes, the tradeoff is the cost to the consumer. Perhaps it's ultimately true that domestic production of goods and small-tier capitalists are inefficient and a thing of the past when it comes to economies of scale, the weakening of worker negotiation and international competition. But it really does spell the end of rural communities as anything more than resource extraction points populated by serfs with what amounts to a company store.

    Which, you know, might not be such a bad thing. I'm not a big fan of rural towns, and if they
    And, because you keep saying it, efficiency has nothing to do with THIS point. It certainly is why one company can be better than another, or specifically why small stores close when faced with larger, "better" competition, but whether any one entity (Walmart) is a drain or source of wealth in a community has nothing to do with efficiency. If you want to claim it's better to support inefficient (ie more costly) retailers in the face of more efficient (ie cheaper) retailers with something beyond the inherent good of local ownership, I'd love to have the discussion.

    That's exactly what I've been arguing this entire thread - that the decreased consumer prices stemming from a Wal-Mart come at the price of atomizing a certain segment of middle-class citizens (read: entrepeneurs) and severely impacting local producers and service providers within small towns. I'm arguing that these citizens have traditionally been the lifesblood of these communities, and that the communities cannot long survive without them.

    Again, it's efficient. Local consumers will pay less for Wal-Mart goods. But there is less room for consumers to continue existing in the town because there are much fewer opportunities for employment and local capitalism. And ultimately, to reiterate, maybe rural communities can't really survive in the modern world because they're fundamentally inefficient. I don't really much care, personally, since I kind of detest them. But a lot of people seem to like living in small towns and rural areas and would be ultimately disappointed as they vanish.

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    You know, I was really surprised to hear people say that Wal-Mart is so huge and having such big impacts on the economy and whatever. I've been to Wal-mart like 3 times in my life, because I was brought up on Target. I haven't done any exhaustive price comparisons but it seems like the prices are comparable, and the quality of product as well. So if people hate Wal-mart so much, why don't they go shop at Target? I suppose Target isn't as wide-spread as Wal-mart, and so people in certain areas have no choice, but it seems like if Wal-mart really was that bad, then they could be easily ousted because, as people have mentioned, consumers are free to shop wherever they like in a free-market economy.

    As for the change being good thing, it's obviously not always true, but sometimes a short-term downturn could just be the transitional effects to a long-term benefit. That is to say, maybe this hypothetical rural economy that Wal-mart is defacing is a local maximum (sorry for the math term, it's the most illustrative I could thing of), and with Wal-mart moving in, people lose their jobs and you move down the utility curve, but after people adapt to the new economic model, they could very well achieve a new local maximum that is higher utility than the previous state.

    Anyway, I'm one of those high-falutin liberals that believe globalization is a good thing. In the simplest case, protectionist/isolationist policies tend to create a sub-optimal equilibrium. We're definitely suffering growing pains into a global economy, what with late-in-life job transitions and whatnot. But there are cultural benefits to globalization that we can see right now, because human interaction on a global scale more often than not enriches local cultures (absent any imperialist tendencies). Moving away from Wal-mart for a second, ClearChannel is another one of those oft-despised conglomerates that are accused of killing off local programming; however, their size also enables more people to listen to a wider variety of programming than previously available. I think that the whole "Small Town, USA" thing is a bit romanticized and vastly overrated.

    Actually ... the US had its greatest growth during isolationism. 0.o

    There was a post I made earlier (a few pages back now I think) with an alteration of a V for vendetta quote that addresses other points you make. I may repost it... Either way, go read it.

    As for clear channel.... The Killed "The Eagle" a local rock station that actually filled a Niche in radio listening that has still not been filled in the DFW areas fully. Instead they tried to split the format between two stations. One of those two failed quite hard and was reformated again. The other plays mostly EMO music. The format has NEVER been replaced.

    Was the "The Eagle" struggling? No. It was one of the most listened too and successful radio stations in the DFW area. It was one of those stations that kid's parents listened to rock on when they younger. (and still did on occasion) In short... it was a nostalgic, much respected, very successful station. Clear channel killed TheEagle. What was worse is that they gave no reason, warning, or apology. We just woke up one morning to all of a sudden discover that it was gone.

    I FUCKING HATE CLEARCHANNEL.

    Oh... and they havent added a single station in the area either. So they crapped up two stations and killed one. So much for making things better.

    (On a side note... a few of the DJ's went to a new and up'n coming radio station that is kinda like the eagle... But not nearly as Hard in the format.)

    tg2po0.gif Tech reviews, another forum to talk in... w/e.
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    Essentially, here's the question: is it better for, in a town, 100 local citizens (who spend and live locally) to make $100k per year and offer local goods at 100% of some cost, or is it better for some remote economic entity to make $9 million per year and offer goods at 90% of some cost?

    Is it really a simple question?

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    No, and again, I don't see what the good of a local retail capitalist class is when you can't provide any benefit beyond the fact their profits stay local when (and note this part, it's coming around for the third time) that is outweighed by extra cost to the consumers.

    And here lies the problem with your argument - you take an assertion and treat it as the gospel truth. So when we break this point down, the rest of your argument tumbles around you.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    And, because you keep saying it, efficiency has nothing to do with THIS point. It certainly is why one company can be better than another, or specifically why small stores close when faced with larger, "better" competition, but whether any one entity (Walmart) is a drain or source of wealth in a community has nothing to do with efficiency. If you want to claim it's better to support inefficient (ie more costly) retailers in the face of more efficient (ie cheaper) retailers with something beyond the inherent good of local ownership, I'd love to have the discussion.

    That's exactly what I've been arguing this entire thread - that the decreased consumer prices stemming from a Wal-Mart come at the price of atomizing a certain segment of middle-class citizens (read: entrepeneurs) and severely impacting local producers and service providers within small towns. I'm arguing that these citizens have traditionally been the lifesblood of these communities, and that the communities cannot long survive without them.

    Again, it's efficient. Local consumers will pay less for Wal-Mart goods. But there is less room for consumers to continue existing in the town because there are much fewer opportunities for employment and local capitalism. And ultimately, to reiterate, maybe rural communities can't really survive in the modern world because they're fundamentally inefficient. I don't really much care, personally, since I kind of detest them. But a lot of people seem to like living in small towns and rural areas and would be ultimately disappointed as they vanish.

    I'm on my way out the door, and the top part is a more detailed rebuttal, but this I can answer quickly and I think cuts to the difference in our point of view.

    The only places that become untenable (and I'm not sure it's anything but the most minuscule portion, certainly not as pervasive or dramatic as you are claiming, but I'm allowing it for the sake of argument) are those that are too small to support a Walmart, but with enough people who want one to draw it in, and there's a simple solution. The people that WANT to live in these communities are free to do so, they simply aren't free to be subsidized by people who don't want what they do. The beauty of capitalism is you can live and have effectively whatever you want, as long as you're willing to pay for the privilege.

    So people who want to live in a small rural place are free to do so, they just can't do so at the expense of people who want cheaper goods. They are free to pay more to support their Walmart-free lifestyle, the absolute second they stop trying to dupe people who don't care into paying for it by telling them its for their own good. There may be bumps, and rough patches in the transition, but we're already at the point where if you want a bucolic lifestyle and you can have it. Just don't expect other people to suffer for you to have what you want.

  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    No, and again, I don't see what the good of a local retail capitalist class is when you can't provide any benefit beyond the fact their profits stay local when (and note this part, it's coming around for the third time) that is outweighed by extra cost to the consumers.

    And here lies the problem with your argument - you take an assertion and treat it as the gospel truth. So when we break this point down, the rest of your argument tumbles around you.

    And in response, allow me to introduce you to modern economics. When one person is exchanging some good/service for a higher price than is necessary (given costs and an acceptable profit) when another entity could provide the same good/service at a lower price, meaning the community as a whole is spending more on this one good/service than and less on others than they "should" it's a bad thing.

    It's really a fundamental idea, though when people get emotional they tend to lose sight of it.

  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    I understand that ruthless maximization of "efficiency" is in vogue in certain schools of economics, but I think it's a reasonable question to ask what purpose it serves and at what cost.

    And that is what this thread is ultimately about.

    That's definitely a good point, and the type of debate I am trying to encourage.

    I think it is unfair to expect to generate happiness, rather than capital, from the capitalist system. It is equally vogue, in certain economic schools to do so, however. Happiness is such an intransient idea it would be next to impossible to try to make economic entities produce it. We expect too much from Economics.

    And by association, Wal-Mart. We expect corporations like it to not just provide products at low prices, but also offer a living wage and health benefits (all the while keeping up to date with environmental concerns). Even it attempts to do these things, it will fail to meet expectations, or fail to meet its primary goal of generating profit and cease to exist entirely. The social responsibility of the firm is to generate profits for its shareholders and not anything else. All other concerns are the realm of the public sector.

    Spoiler:
  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    1) Then your post implies Walmart causes unemployment to the point where the overall job market is distorted. I assumed this WASN'T your point because not only has no one actually shown this happens with any regularity, it's only possible in the tiniest markets which are a small fraction of the economy and should be considered on a case by case basis, as opposed to a general Walmart is bad.

    2) Again, "fair" as you are using it is irrelevant. It's a bitch someone loses their job, and I honest to god feel for them, but there is NO good in making a population support someone who can't earn their salary. Beyond not being entitled to have the job you do regardless of whether you can do it well enough, you also aren't guaranteed to find an equivalent job in the same place. There certainly are extenuating circumstances, and again I'd like to see us doing more to help people in that situation, but the end result is that things are better across the board after.

    3) I see what you are saying, but not only is the product quality purely a matter between the store and the customer (as in everyone is free to buy what they want, and Walmart isn't to blame if people want crap), the whole point is irrelevant since the Mom & Pop almost certainly bought and sold exactly the same stuff. The paradox of thrift ISN'T what I was arguing in what you quoted, because it's irrelevant to this comparison, but the net flow of wealth into a community due to Walmart's presence, which is [customer savings] - [Walmart profits] and almost certainly positive.

    4) That's not only not Walmart's fault, it's a trend I'd say is to the greater good of humanity and one of the driving factors behind America's shift to a service based economy. It's a long discussion, but it's better for everyone to buy an equivalent good produced more cheaply in another country versus a pricier good made domestically.

    5) I was more knocking the smug tone, which I felt was somewhat overreaching based on the work you did to get there. Honestly, I wouldn't have said anything if you hadn't numbered and included it.

    Small towns have unemployment too. Viewing each small town as its own economic entity, yes it happens quite frequently. The situation is in most cases self correcting in time, but the shock still happens. Another forum member posted about his own job woes and how walmart had him trapped. Ive given examples too. You can bet just because there are not more people in here bitching about it doesn't mean that it does not exist. They may be too poor to be on here posting about it. No, that is not an exaggeration or a joke.

    The lack of people supporting each other, or doing anything at all for their fellow man is why we suck. You sir seem to be exuding the philosophy that is the problem. Sure you feel bad, but you DO nothing.

    The mom and pop sore may have sold the same crap... then again they could have sold the crap made 3 counties over that makes the picture frames that is barely getting by because they are competing with Malaysia. These points are highly related at it does show the GLOBAL impact or walmart as well as the case by case basis. Sure not every town with a walmart is doomed... but 1/10th maybe? And all of the small ones have an initial downturn on the economy. << Fact.

    Assuming you are right and you know all... sure it is better to buy the equal product from another country for less... But you are not right. And the simple fact that we still have countries is why it is wrong. If we were a GLOBAL society and we were all one big happy family not concerned about other factors then sure... why not import everything? When the civil war in america happened the south found out real fast why not having and industrial plants was a bad thing.

    tg2po0.gif Tech reviews, another forum to talk in... w/e.
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    I'm ultimately less concerned with minimizing consumer prices and increasing economic efficiency than I am in maintaining a thriving middle class and robust competition with many players that are born and die frequently. Capitalism performs poorly when there is a very small ownership class, and it becomes perverse when economic inequality is exacerbated.

    I just noticed that you live in upstate New York. It would be hard to argue that globalization and maximization of economic efficiency has really been a boon to your towns and cities, even if it does mean that steel is now 5% cheaper to the rest of the nation.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »
    No, and again, I don't see what the good of a local retail capitalist class is when you can't provide any benefit beyond the fact their profits stay local when (and note this part, it's coming around for the third time) that is outweighed by extra cost to the consumers.

    And here lies the problem with your argument - you take an assertion and treat it as the gospel truth. So when we break this point down, the rest of your argument tumbles around you.

    And in response, allow me to introduce you to Chicago school economics. When one person is exchanging some good/service for a higher price than is necessary (given costs and an acceptable profit) when another entity could provide the same good/service at a lower price, meaning the community as a whole is spending more on this one good/service than and less on others than they "should" it's a bad thing.

    It's really a fundamental idea, though when people get emotional they tend to lose sight of it.

    Fixed. As much as he may have thought it so, Friedman was not the beginning and end of economic theory.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • imbalancedimbalanced Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Essentially, here's the question: is it better for, in a town, 100 local citizens (who spend and live locally) to make $100k per year and offer local goods at 100% of some cost, or is it better for some remote economic entity to make $9 million per year and offer goods at 90% of some cost?

    Is it really a simple question?

    But not all money leaves the community. The employees of Walmart don't fly back to Bentonville after their shifts have ended. That money stays there. Often, a Walmart brings in more residential growth, more new buisnesses, greater overall wealth in small economies. Just look at Bryant, AR if you have any questions of if that can happen. It went from having only a Wendy's and a Subway (and a Fosters grocery store) to having a Supercenter and all sorts of growth. It looks NOTHING like when I grew up there.

    I can contribute almost all of that growth to Walmart and I-30 accessibility.

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »
    No, and again, I don't see what the good of a local retail capitalist class is when you can't provide any benefit beyond the fact their profits stay local when (and note this part, it's coming around for the third time) that is outweighed by extra cost to the consumers.

    And here lies the problem with your argument - you take an assertion and treat it as the gospel truth. So when we break this point down, the rest of your argument tumbles around you.

    And in response, allow me to introduce you to modern economics. When one person is exchanging some good/service for a higher price than is necessary (given costs and an acceptable profit) when another entity could provide the same good/service at a lower price, meaning the community as a whole is spending more on this one good/service than and less on others than they "should" it's a bad thing.

    It's really a fundamental idea, though when people get emotional they tend to lose sight of it.

    When nearly all of the money paid at a higher price is reinvested within the community they live and the lower price is not... No. It is a Good Thing.

    tg2po0.gif Tech reviews, another forum to talk in... w/e.
  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »

    Actually ... the US had its greatest growth during isolationism. 0.o

    No, the US had its greatest growth while Europe was rebuilding. From 1945 to 1972 (IIRC). Protectionist measures have been used in the past to try and bolster the economy, but have always exacerbated the problem instead.

    Spoiler:
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    I understand that ruthless maximization of "efficiency" is in vogue in certain schools of economics, but I think it's a reasonable question to ask what purpose it serves and at what cost.

    And that is what this thread is ultimately about.

    That's definitely a good point, and the type of debate I am trying to encourage.

    I think it is unfair to expect to generate happiness, rather than capital, from the capitalist system. It is equally vogue, in certain economic schools to do so, however. Happiness is such an intransient idea it would be next to impossible to try to make economic entities produce it. We expect too much from Economics.

    And by association, Wal-Mart. We expect corporations like it to not just provide products at low prices, but also offer a living wage and health benefits (all the while keeping up to date with environmental concerns). Even it attempts to do these things, it will fail to meet expectations, or fail to meet its primary goal of generating profit and cease to exist entirely. The social responsibility of the firm is to generate profits for its shareholders and not anything else. All other concerns are the realm of the public sector.

    Yes, exactly. It's not within Wal-Mart's mandate or genetic code to try to do anything but maximize its profits, and it's unrealistic and naive to expect them to. This is why it's important to discuss the externalities associated with corporate actions, especially as it relates to multinational conglomerates, and why it's important for us, as citizens, consumers and workers, to debate how to innoculate our society against whatever toxic effect might exist. The concentration of wealth and economic power isn't a negligible factor.

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    imbalanced wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Essentially, here's the question: is it better for, in a town, 100 local citizens (who spend and live locally) to make $100k per year and offer local goods at 100% of some cost, or is it better for some remote economic entity to make $9 million per year and offer goods at 90% of some cost?

    Is it really a simple question?

    But not all money leaves the community. The employees of Walmart don't fly back to Bentonville after their shifts have ended. That money stays there. Often, a Walmart brings in more residential growth, more new buisnesses, greater overall wealth in small economies. Just look at Bryant, AR if you have any questions of if that can happen. It went from having only a Wendy's and a Subway (and a Fosters grocery store) to having a Supercenter and all sorts of growth. It looks NOTHING like when I grew up there.

    I can contribute almost all of that growth to Walmart and I-30 accessibility.

    10 years down the road it does promote -some- growth. But it still has barriers to entry for any type of small business retail offering anything that walmart does. Which last I check... Is nearly everything.

    tg2po0.gif Tech reviews, another forum to talk in... w/e.
  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    imbalanced wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Essentially, here's the question: is it better for, in a town, 100 local citizens (who spend and live locally) to make $100k per year and offer local goods at 100% of some cost, or is it better for some remote economic entity to make $9 million per year and offer goods at 90% of some cost?

    Is it really a simple question?

    But not all money leaves the community. The employees of Walmart don't fly back to Bentonville after their shifts have ended. That money stays there. Often, a Walmart brings in more residential growth, more new buisnesses, greater overall wealth in small economies. Just look at Bryant, AR if you have any questions of if that can happen. It went from having only a Wendy's and a Subway (and a Fosters grocery store) to having a Supercenter and all sorts of growth. It looks NOTHING like when I grew up there.

    I'm talking specifically about capitalholders and profit. This money most definitely leaves the economy.

    And Briant, AR's success came at the local economies of towns within driving range along I-30.

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »

    Actually ... the US had its greatest growth during isolationism. 0.o

    No, the US had its greatest growth while Europe was rebuilding. From 1945 to 1972 (IIRC). Protectionist measures have been used in the past to try and bolster the economy, but have always exacerbated the problem instead.

    We had more economic growth from 1945-1972 than from 1823- ~1914???

    I would like to add that you cannot really include the years during or initally following the war due to the fact that the starting point there was already a depression that we were digging ourselves out of and the war gave the BOOM from until ~ 1950

    And the cold war drove the military build from 45 on for quite a while. This is false inflation that made a lot of rich people very rich.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I would think that comparing thirty years to almost a hundred wouldn't be very effective.

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  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    I understand that ruthless maximization of "efficiency" is in vogue in certain schools of economics, but I think it's a reasonable question to ask what purpose it serves and at what cost.

    And that is what this thread is ultimately about.

    That's definitely a good point, and the type of debate I am trying to encourage.

    I think it is unfair to expect to generate happiness, rather than capital, from the capitalist system. It is equally vogue, in certain economic schools to do so, however. Happiness is such an intransient idea it would be next to impossible to try to make economic entities produce it. We expect too much from Economics.

    And by association, Wal-Mart. We expect corporations like it to not just provide products at low prices, but also offer a living wage and health benefits (all the while keeping up to date with environmental concerns). Even it attempts to do these things, it will fail to meet expectations, or fail to meet its primary goal of generating profit and cease to exist entirely. The social responsibility of the firm is to generate profits for its shareholders and not anything else. All other concerns are the realm of the public sector.

    Yes, exactly. It's not within Wal-Mart's mandate or genetic code to try to do anything but maximize its profits, and it's unrealistic and naive to expect them to. This is why it's important to discuss the externalities associated with corporate actions, especially as it relates to multinational conglomerates, and why it's important for us, as citizens, consumers and workers, to debate how to inoculate our society against whatever toxic effect might exist. The concentration of wealth and economic power isn't a negligible factor.

    Judging that we are now debating on the same level, I would argue that, overall, the macroeconomic and microeconomic trends have been positive, and overall they have been forces of good in North American society. Globalisation, and the rampant pursuit of efficiency, will have more winners than losers, though much more could be done to help the losers.

    Spoiler:
  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I would think that comparing thirty years to almost a hundred wouldn't be very effective.

    well... I would like to say it isn't but unfortunately that is ~ how long "isolationism" lasted.

    We were comparing periods with predefined numerical data.

    Edit:

    I suppose we could take an adjusted for inflation average???

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  • imbalancedimbalanced Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    imbalanced wrote: »

    But not all money leaves the community. The employees of Walmart don't fly back to Bentonville after their shifts have ended. That money stays there. Often, a Walmart brings in more residential growth, more new buisnesses, greater overall wealth in small economies. Just look at Bryant, AR if you have any questions of if that can happen. It went from having only a Wendy's and a Subway (and a Fosters grocery store) to having a Supercenter and all sorts of growth. It looks NOTHING like when I grew up there.

    I'm talking specifically about capitalholders and profit. This money most definitely leaves the economy.

    And Briant, AR's success came at the local economies of towns within driving range along I-30.

    Oh really? Because Bryant has ALWAYS been on I-30, and it was by far the smallest town in comparison to its neighbors of Little Rock, Benton, Hot Springs. Hell for a while Bauxite was bigger than Bryant when Alcoa did most of their mining over there, and it's not accessible by the interstate. But you can actually measure growth based on before and after Walmart. Nobody in that community will deny that, and a large majority of that population think it's been a completely good thing.

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  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »
    madstork91 wrote: »

    Actually ... the US had its greatest growth during isolationism. 0.o

    No, the US had its greatest growth while Europe was rebuilding. From 1945 to 1972 (IIRC). Protectionist measures have been used in the past to try and bolster the economy, but have always exacerbated the problem instead.

    We had more economic growth from 1945-1972 than from 1823- ~1914???

    I would like to add that you cannot really include the years during or initally following the war due to the fact that the starting point there was already a depression that we were digging ourselves out of and the war gave the BOOM from until ~ 1950

    And the cold war drove the military build from 45 on for quite a while. This is false inflation that made a lot of rich people very rich.

    Any increases, in the long-term, are due productivity increases due to technological innovation and adoption. Trade policy, historically, has a marginal, at best effect on long-term growth.

    And for that matter, there is no instance in the recorded history of Economics where isolationist practices have been shown to have positive, long-term effects. To argue that growth occurs because of protectionism is insane. Alternatively, there have been no instances where trade has been shown to have an adverse, long-term effect. Short-term, most definitely, but long-term, even when the trade is unilaterally free (like in Hong Kong), no.

    Spoiler:
  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    imbalanced wrote: »

    Oh really? Because Bryant has ALWAYS been on I-30, and it was by far the smallest town in comparison to its neighbors of Little Rock, Benton, Hot Springs. Hell for a while Bauxite was bigger than Bryant when Alcoa did most of their mining over there, and it's not accessible by the interstate. But you can actually measure growth based on before and after Walmart. Nobody in that community will deny that, and a large majority of that population think it's been a completely good thing.

    I have found Arkansas to be a unique place that defies any standard in anything. And most usually not in a good way.

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  • imbalancedimbalanced Registered User
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »
    imbalanced wrote: »

    Oh really? Because Bryant has ALWAYS been on I-30, and it was by far the smallest town in comparison to its neighbors of Little Rock, Benton, Hot Springs. Hell for a while Bauxite was bigger than Bryant when Alcoa did most of their mining over there, and it's not accessible by the interstate. But you can actually measure growth based on before and after Walmart. Nobody in that community will deny that, and a large majority of that population think it's been a completely good thing.

    I have found Arkansas to be a unique place that defies any standard in anything. And most usually not in a good way.

    Yay for stereotypical negative remarks about southern states! Who can we make fun of next, Mississippi?

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007

    Any increases, in the long-term, are due productivity increases due to technological innovation and adoption. Trade policy, historically, has a marginal, at best effect on long-term growth.

    And for that matter, there is no instance in the recorded history of Economics where isolationist practices have been shown to have positive, long-term effects. To argue that growth occurs because of protectionism is insane. Alternatively, there have been no instances where trade has been shown to have an adverse, long-term effect. Short-term, most definitely, but long-term, even when the trade is unilaterally free (like in Hong Kong), no.

    Importing more than exporting is bad. Isolationism does not exclude all international trade.

    The long terms effects of trade, economically, are great!... Notice the "," separating the economically?

    Isolationism can be discussed as a goal or absolute practice. During our isolationism period it was a goal, but we were still active internationally. What does this mean? It means that we strove to be self sufficient and export more than we imported. (By a large difference if possible)

    And yes, we had great success with it.

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  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    Any increases, in the long-term, are due productivity increases due to technological innovation and adoption. Trade policy, historically, has a marginal, at best effect on long-term growth.

    And for that matter, there is no instance in the recorded history of Economics where isolationist practices have been shown to have positive, long-term effects. To argue that growth occurs because of protectionism is insane. Alternatively, there have been no instances where trade has been shown to have an adverse, long-term effect. Short-term, most definitely, but long-term, even when the trade is unilaterally free (like in Hong Kong), no.

    Yes, but this is all large-scale and long-term and ignores the potential maldistribution of wealth. it's wouldn't be accurate to say the open markets have treated the economies of, say, upstate New York, Ohio or Detroit all that well. And it's questionable whether it's better from a human perspective for 100 marginally successful but inefficient businesses to exist or one highly efficient and profitable business to exist.

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  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    imbalanced wrote: »
    madstork91 wrote: »
    imbalanced wrote: »

    Oh really? Because Bryant has ALWAYS been on I-30, and it was by far the smallest town in comparison to its neighbors of Little Rock, Benton, Hot Springs. Hell for a while Bauxite was bigger than Bryant when Alcoa did most of their mining over there, and it's not accessible by the interstate. But you can actually measure growth based on before and after Walmart. Nobody in that community will deny that, and a large majority of that population think it's been a completely good thing.

    I have found Arkansas to be a unique place that defies any standard in anything. And most usually not in a good way.

    Yay for stereotypical negative remarks about southern states! Who can we make fun of next, Mississippi?

    Texas > you.

    Sorry, I had to get it in there ya know :twisted:

    Truthfully though that state does seem to defy some economically expected things. Mostly because of who's corporation HQs are there.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Wal-Mart would be smart to rebrand itself in more urban, cosmopolitan areas, and would greatly profit from selling different products to different markets. But, on the same side, Wal-Mart is incredibly efficient in an industry that is not typically known for efficiency. In fact, I've seen it argued that most of the productivity gains in the United States are driven purely by Wal-Mart and its imitators.

    Haven't heard about it recently, but read in an industry article that they are actually working towards targetting different markets. Doing away with gun sales in some areas (they were already consolidating this due to licensing costs), stocking different styles of music and clothing in others. Not going all out, just creating something like 4 different "styles" of store rather than just the one. Widening aisles in some stores, carrying a better selection of, say, golf clubs in suburban stores...you know, that kind of shit.
    Irond Will wrote: »
    I guess we must not have too many forumers who actually live in rural America. McD aside, the responses I've gotten from most rural folks is a kind of defensive and protective reaction when it comes to criticism of Wal-Marts. And, of course, Red State conservatives in general will almost always support the large capitalholder over the small capitalholder, even if the theoretical premise of conservatism is expansion of the "ownership" class, healthy competition at all levels, and a hazy nostalgic championing of traditional societies, economies, and small businesses.

    Keep in mind, I'm not your "standard" rural dweller. I grew up between Kansas City and quasi-rural Pennsylvania, and went to high school in Phoenix. I've only recently been trapped in the boonies, and I look forward to getting out. ;-)

    I don't know. Up here most people don't want much to do with Wal-Mart, and most towns have, I believe, actively tried to fight their arrival. In the end it's futile, though, because what's going to happen is they're just going to build a hundred yards outside the city limits anyway, and then the city gets no taxes. [EDIT: Granted, generally the city ends up signing multi-year no-tax deals anyway...but at least someday they might get taxes...if Wal-Mart doesn't decide to move out of town by then anyway and leave an empty husk of a building in town.]

    Oddly though, up here it hasn't had quite the same effect I saw when I went back to Pennsylvania (the town I grew up in only recently got one) and when I was stationed on the ass-end of Kansas in the Army. In those towns, it really did gut main street, and drive out of business most local retailers. Oddly, up here it seems that most of the towns large enough to support a Wal-Mart actually manage to do so while stills supporting some decent local options as well. A lot of the stores end up upsizing, in fact, to try to compete on Wal-Mart's scale (and they manage it because they carry wider selections). I'm talking local sporting goods stores, electronics stores, hardware stores, and even clothing and shoe stores.

    I hear a lot about how these stores are struggling to compete, yet at the same time they tend to move to new and larger locations.

    I also think we're a little different as far as the effect on outlying communities due to the low population density; quite simply, you're looking at long drives on often icy and dangerous roads to get to Wal-Mart, which I think keeps at least some of the local stores in neighboring towns in business.

    Really my problem with Wal-Mart isn't so much the destruction of local retail...I mean, it's an issue I suppose but whatever. Employee treatment is an issue with me, but a larger issue as far as the destruction of local economies go is the whole destruction of US manufacturing thing. Granted, this was something that started before Wal-Mart came along, but it seems that Wal-Mart, by consolidating buying power, sped the process along a bit, and into industries where it wasn't an issue before. Maybe I'm wrong. But yeah, I was thinking along the lines of this:
    And yes, local merchants aren't entirely stocked with local goods - try to find a plunger manufactured in East Buttholia, Idaho. But they do tend to sell local goods when available, while Wal-Mart will basically never sell local goods.

    Finally:
    I don't see how it's possible that Wal-Mart increases employment unless they're entering a retail sphere that did not previously exist in the local community. It's unthinkable to me that Wal-Mart is somehow less efficient than Mom'n'Pop stores.

    In many rural areas they actually do grow the overall retail economy, including jobs, quite a bit. They may not enter entire spheres that didn't exist, but sadly in your real bumfuck towns they'll sometimes carry quite a bit larger of a selection than the local Mom n' Pop stores previously carried. They'll carry more sporting goods than the sporting goods store carried, more toys than the toy store carried, etc. So it is conceivable that they may actually employ more people than the combination of the stores they put out of business.

  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »
    Importing more than exporting is bad.

    That is an outdated, and frankly irresponsible idea. It flies in the face of all Economic research and development since the The Wealth of Nations.

    Spoiler:
  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Any increases, in the long-term, are due productivity increases due to technological innovation and adoption. Trade policy, historically, has a marginal, at best effect on long-term growth.

    And for that matter, there is no instance in the recorded history of Economics where isolationist practices have been shown to have positive, long-term effects. To argue that growth occurs because of protectionism is insane. Alternatively, there have been no instances where trade has been shown to have an adverse, long-term effect. Short-term, most definitely, but long-term, even when the trade is unilaterally free (like in Hong Kong), no.

    Yes, but this is all large-scale and long-term and ignores the potential maldistribution of wealth. it's wouldn't be accurate to say the open markets have treated the economies of, say, upstate New York, Ohio or Detroit all that well. And it's questionable whether it's better from a human perspective for 100 marginally successful but inefficient businesses to exist or one highly efficient and profitable business to exist.

    Like I said before, there are definite losers. Trade policy isn't all sunshine and rainbows. I'm not going to deny that people do lose. It is definitely worse now for Union workers (I think they make up about 1/3 of the workforce), and some others, than it was 20-30 years ago. But will it be worse for their kids? In the long run? No.

    The workforce will change to reflect the changes in the marketplace. Whether these changes create equitable distributions of wealth - that is doubtful but overall of little importance when held against economic growth. I'm more concerned about the living standards of the people at the bottom (whether they have access to health care, shelter, good quality education for their kids) than I am about the excesses of the people at the top.

    Spoiler:
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    Oh ho. Fifteen hours ago I predicted in [chat] that this thread would become an echo chamber for everyone who took a fucking freshman economics class to pat themselves on the back for their commitment to "rationality", and for Mithrandir to trade in sunny, slightly smug vagaries that he read in a David Brooks column somewhere, and whaddayaknow, Jacobdamus was proven right.

    Werehippy, for someone who likes to call people out for not knowing about economics, has a bizarre and very un-economic fixation on "lower prices." Screw prices. Prices are an irrelevancy. Wal-Mart does not save anyone money. I covered this. They "save" money by denying it to their suppliers and the people they employ, and if you follow the chain long enough you find that they ultimately produce no net gain for the consumer. Dig: paying 90 cents for something when I make nine dollars an hour and paying a dollar for something when I make ten an hour are the same thing.

    There's no "efficiency" involved here. Wal-Mart has not figured out a cheaper, faster way to manufacture microwave ovens. They're just buying in bulk. This does not constitute a productivity increase, and as everyone knows, productivity is the real engine of economic growth.

  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    madstork91 wrote: »
    Importing more than exporting is bad.

    That is an outdated, and frankly irresponsible idea. It flies in the face of all Economic research and development since the The Wealth of Nations.

    Resources -are- limited.

    Importing > exporting = inflation.

    Inflation causes MANY social/political problems.

    Importing > exporting = good idea if there was no such thing as a war.

    Importing > exporting = An alright economic model until something goes wrong; Then you are screwed and the people who you used to set prices on will be able to set prices on you. (in theory, but god i wish another country was putting this to the test)

    Ultimately, with the exception some THEORY that has come about since The Wealth of Nations, the theories in The Wealth of Nations hold true.

    And I would like to add once again... If every country was each other's busome buddy we wouldn't have this problem.

    And for future ref... I have no problem flying in the face of anything. How else does anything new ever come about?

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  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Oh ho. Fifteen hours ago I predicted in [chat] that this thread would become an echo chamber for everyone who took a fucking freshman economics class to pat themselves on the back for their commitment to "rationality", and for Mithrandir to trade in sunny, slightly smug vagaries that he read in a David Brooks column somewhere, and whaddayaknow, Jacobdamus was proven right.

    Oh man, I'm so glad I posted just before you got in.

    Spoiler:
  • madstork91madstork91 Registered User
    edited August 2007
    Like I said before, there are definite losers. Trade policy isn't all sunshine and rainbows. I'm not going to deny that people do lose. It is definitely worse now for Union workers (I think they make up about 1/3 of the workforce), and some others, than it was 20-30 years ago. But will it be worse for their kids? In the long run? No.

    The workforce will change to reflect the changes in the marketplace. Whether these changes create equitable distributions of wealth - that is doubtful but overall of little importance when held against economic growth. I'm more concerned about the living standards of the people at the bottom (whether they have access to health care, shelter, good quality education for their kids) than I am about the excesses of the people at the top.

    As I am coming from a right to work state and I disagree with the permanent establishment of unions I will agree to disagree on this until it becomes the topic.

    I will however agree that helping the impoverished of this country is a great thing. I too am concerned with it. (yes this statement and the one above can be viewed as an oxymoron... but wait.)

    I would rather drop medical benefits and pay a person more. Say the entire cost of a company medical plan devided among the workers? Evenly mind you. Maybe even more to the ones who make less. But then again... I am a fair employer. There are places here in texas that semi do this and allow you to buy into a medical plan. It is the mandatory that I do not like.

    As for the poor who do not work at a place that provides this? Gov. << This is the one of the only things I actually agree to pay taxes for.

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  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Werehippy, for someone who likes to call people out for not knowing about economics, has a bizarre and very un-economic fixation on "lower prices." Screw prices. Prices are an irrelevancy. Wal-Mart does not save anyone money. I covered this. They "save" money by denying it to their suppliers and the people they employ, and if you follow the chain long enough you find that they ultimately produce no net gain for the consumer. Dig: paying 90 cents for something when I make nine dollars an hour and paying a dollar for something when I make ten an hour are the same thing.

    Well, by that reasoning all Wal-Mart would have to do is offer the same product at 89 cents and you're a winner overall. I think that is what Werehippy is arguing.

    And that's assuming that Wal-Mart's mere presence depresses wages. And the evidence to that effect is contentious at best.

    Spoiler:
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited August 2007
    Oh man, I'm so glad I posted just before you got in.

    Here's the thing: you are free to believe what you want. But in your posts you keep copping this attitude like you've got a monopoly on rationality and everyone who doesn't like Wal-Mart feels that way because of "emotion." That's dishonest. There are plenty of economists, like most of my professors, who take a dim view of the company - just like there are plenty that don't - but presenting it as a settled question and sadly shaking your head at the rabble is smug-arsed nonsense.

    EDIT:
    Well, by that reasoning all Wal-Mart would have to do is offer the same product at 89 cents and you're a winner overall. I think that is what Werehippy is arguing.

    That one cent is still coming out of a supplier's hide. Which is to say, a supplier who might need to buy something from your company. The net difference to the overall economy is zero.

  • IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Oh ho. Fifteen hours ago I predicted in [chat] that this thread would become an echo chamber for everyone who took a fucking freshman economics class to pat themselves on the back for their commitment to "rationality"

    Haha, you predicted that a bunch of random people on the Internet will mouth off about stuff in which they are in no way experts? Who'da thunk it! ;)
    Spoiler:

    Anyway, I think most of us agree that Wal-Mart is no more evil than your typical large capitalist corporation. As for whether large capitalist corporations are good for humanity? That's probably too large of a problem for any thinktank, especially Internet armchair philosophers. I think it's been shown that, very often, economic behavior can be counter-intuitive, as was shown by Yunus's work. Also, I recommend Freakonomics, a very interesting read that shows you how conventional wisdom isn't always so wise.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Mithrandir86Mithrandir86 Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Jacobkosh wrote: »
    Oh man, I'm so glad I posted just before you got in.

    Here's the thing: you are free to believe what you want. But in your posts you keep copping this attitude like you've got a monopoly on rationality and everyone who doesn't like Wal-Mart feels that way because of "emotion." That's dishonest. There are plenty of economists, like most of my professors, who take a dim view of the company - just like there are plenty that don't - but presenting it as a settled question and sadly shaking your head at the rabble is smug-arsed nonsense.

    A lot of my Economics professors hate it too, I think. Some of them love it though, especially the "PRODUCTIVITY IS EVERYTHING" Professors. Most Economists, I think it was mentioned in another thread, are moderates with a strong faith in market principles.

    I'm not exactly pro-Wal-Mart. I've only been there once or twice, and didn't enjoy the experience. Usually I get other people to go there for me. I don't think it should be closed, because I honestly believe that they have a right to do business in the manner that they wish.

    I believe that the consumers and Wal-Mart should pay for the external costs it forces on the outside community. Though trying to figure out how much and where is a daunting task.

    It doesn't really deserve the vocal abuse it gets.

    Spoiler:
This discussion has been closed.