I don’t like shopping anywhere, but particularly at Wal-Mart. It’s overcrowded with both crap and people. Yuck!
But I love the Wal-Mart corporation because it has all the right enemies: people who think that aggressive price competition and efficiency are bad things for the economy and that poor urban communities are made better off by keeping out a company that offers low-priced goods and lots of low-skilled jobs (you see, the overpriced, corner liquor store model with unemployed youth hanging out in front that prevails in many inner city neighborhoods is so much better than letting the underclass have access to a Wal-Mart, which, ya know, exploits people!)
Fortunately the Supremes tossed out the ridiculous class action suit against Wal-Mart this week. But their decision did not please historian Nelson Lichtenstein, who argues in the Times that Wal-Mart is bad because it “views low labor costs and a high degree of workplace flexibility as a signal competitive advantage.”
Oh, the horror. They hate unions and keep labor costs low as well as doing nasty things like putting a lot of pressure on managers’ bottom lines. Moreover, their policy, he writes, of requiring new mangers to relocate to new cities (so they can serve the interests of the company bottom line rather than please their former co-workers) constitutes sex discrimination against middle-aged women. Seriously, this takes the definition of what constitutes sex discrimination to a ridiculous new low.
Some of the abundant fruits of Wal-Mart’s business model go to shareholders, but a lot going to expanding the empire and creating more and more jobs. I imagine working at Wal-Mart is no more fun than shopping there, and other retailers like Costco seem to be doing well with much more worker-friendly models, but in studying his history, Prof. Lichtenstein apparently forgot to look at long-term trends in productivity. Leftists are deluded into thinking that economies prosper because of “investments” by government and by pro-union policies. Economies prosper because firms have the incentives to invest in better technologies and because mangers try to get the most out of employees.
So, please celebrate the Supreme Court decision by shopping at Wal-Mart and, while you are it, give a smile to one of those miserably treated workers that are helping you out. If you do, you’ll get some good deals and there will be one less person I’ll have to bump into at Target or Costco!