Buy WILLisms

XML Feed

Featured Entries

The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM

Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM

Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM

Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM

Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM

The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM

From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM

Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM



Blogroll Me!



July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004

Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008

Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008

The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006

Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008

Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007

Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006

A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006


Powered by Movable Type 3.17
Site Design by Sekimori

WILLisms.com June 2008 Book of the Month (certified classy):

The WILLisms.com Gift Shop: Support This Site


This Week's Carnival of Revolutions: carnivalbutton.gif

Carnival Home Base: homebase.gif


« Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 70 | WILLisms.com | Oriana Fallaci 1929-2006 »

Wal-Mart: A Goliath Fighting For David

George Will details the enormous size of Wal-mart, and its impact on the economy:

The median household income of Wal-Mart shoppers is under $40,000. Wal-Mart, the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector in this galaxy, has almost as many employees (1.3 million) as the U.S. military has uniformed personnel. 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. By lowering consumer prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates. 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).
So this is a good thing, right?
Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by ... liberals.

Wal-Mart is a target of Democrats because it actually supplants a little of the liberal welfare state they hope to create by offering savings and jobs to the poor and lower middle class. Wal-Mart also skewers unions, who hope to filch those savings and put them into their own pockets (as well as lining the pockets of their favored liberal politicians, such as the über-wealthy John Kerry).

The Democrats who have signed on to the anti-Wal-Mart jihad are enemies of the little guy, plain and simple.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 14 September 2006 01:15 AM


So where do you get your facts...let me guess...WALMART. You are a paid shill for a company that spends millions fighting for a good name when they could easily spend that money improving the lives of their workers and not need the pr. As for unions, they let the stores in china have communist unions...why don't they fight there? So they can make a buck...just like they buy their cheap crap from there funding foriegn companies, but not american ones.

Posted by: madmatt at September 14, 2006 08:55 AM

So they can make a buck...just like they buy their cheap crap from there funding foreign companies, but not American ones.--madmatt

Yo, Matt. I would prefer that China was not such a big supplier to the West as well. But when you go onto E-Bay, do you really care about who is selling the items as long as it gets to you at the lowest possible price and WORKS ? I bet you don't.

The days when any country and its industries could insulate themselves, and afford to pay BIG wages and salaries to their people, with no regard to the overall competitive position, are OVER.

If someone can make something for $0.10, and you can't produce it for less than $1.00, your days are numbered.

Wall-Mart is not the problem. It is merely a symptom of the problem, and because it does in fact serve to lower the cost of goods for its customers, it effectively insulates them from the most dire effects of International Competition.

If someone does not want to work for Wall-Mart --- they shouldn't do so. What other job do you think would be available for most of those employees?

Come on Matt, name just one alternative employment opportunity. I'm sure you have a veritable list of them all ready to go. A job is better than No job, even if the benefits are less than ideal.

You can rant and rave about the evils of International Competition all you want. What you can't do is anything about it.

Posted by: dougf at September 14, 2006 09:20 AM

matt - "cheap crap"??? You're delusional if you think stuff at Sears other places is better, or is coming from anywhere other than China, Korea or Mexico. The quality of the perishables (including meat, etc.) we buy at Wal-Mart is at least as high and typically higher than other local stores - either way, it's always WAY less expensive.

I also find it telling that whenever the MSM reports on some criticism against Wal-Mart in our area (New England), it's always the unions or some leftist pol - it's never the Wal-Mart employees themselves. We've gotten to know many of the folks who work at our Wal-Mart over the years. To a person they are friendly, happy with their jobs, and go WAY out of their way to be sure that their store carries the things we tend to buy. THEY are most of the reason we keep shopping there.

Will is absolutely, 100% correct on his assessment of Wal-Mart criticisms. Wal-Mart and capitalism have done what socialists keep promising to do. That's why Wal-Mart keeps getting bigger and socialism is dying out.

Posted by: goy at September 14, 2006 09:43 AM

"Wal-Mart and capitalism have done what socialists keep promising to do."

You mean like locking employees inside overnight and not providing health insurance?

Posted by: jan van flac at September 14, 2006 09:52 AM

When was the last time someone was locked in overnight while working at a Wal-Mart, with no access to a manager who had a key? Details, please.

And last I checked, health insurance was a job BENEFIT, not an ENTITLEMENT.

That said, all of the Wal-Mart employees I know have health insurance benefits.

Posted by: goy at September 14, 2006 10:10 AM

You are a paid shill for a company that spends millions fighting for a good name when they could easily spend that money improving the lives of their workers and not need the pr.

As if someone needs to be paid to praise Wal-Mart.

If only it were true however! I could use the cash.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at September 14, 2006 10:15 AM

"And last I checked, health insurance was a job BENEFIT, not an ENTITLEMENT"

So true... People on the left tend to forget this little fact.

Unions wouldn't help Wal-Mart at all. Look at the car industry for goodness sakes. The domestic car companies are paying out the a** to their employees in benefits that have been cut out for regular workers decades ago. Toyota, on the other hand, builds cars and trucks in the US, creating great jobs, and they do it union-free. No industry or business can support the exponential growth that unions require.

Wal-Mart is smart for staying union-free, and their customers are rewarded with less expensive products.

One question I always think is fun to ask people who freak out about Wal-Mart is where they shop. "Target" is the usual answer. It cracks me up because if they don't think Target does the exact same things to lower prices as Wal-Mart does, then they're crazy.

Posted by: Starfox5253 at September 14, 2006 10:38 AM

"Wal-Mart is smart for staying union-free..."

Couldn't agree more, except to say that Wal-Mart employees are smart for staying union-free - since the decision has ultimately been theirs.

Unions are showing more and more how they've outlived their usefulness in the globalizing economy.

As for the benefit vs. entitlement issue, the real problem at the heart of swipes at Wal-Mart benefits isn't rooted in their mythical lack of a health care plan. And it's telling that so-called "Democrats" don't acknowlege it.

Posted by: goy at September 14, 2006 10:51 AM

No, walmart is not union free they do allow unions in their china stores....which means they are willing to set aside any argument they might make about unions not benefitting people as long as they can make more money. So explain to me, why is a union allowable in china but not the US?

Posted by: michael at September 14, 2006 11:14 AM

he median household income of Wal-Mart shoppers is under $40,000.

What's your point? The median household income for the entire U.S. population is roughly $46K.

Posted by: KC at September 14, 2006 11:59 AM

Your "argument" that liberals don't like WalMart because of a threat to a welfare state is one of the most absurd things I've heard in some time. But it is at least a different perspective then the typical liberal bashing from federalists and appologists.

However, I do take offense to your use of the word "jihad". It seems when friends of the Republican party have little to actually say they will try to link liberal principles with muslim extremists. I think this lowers any legitimate argument you may have. I also believe it is disrespectful to those who lay their lives on the line to fight against real jihadists.

Posted by: AntiFederalist at September 14, 2006 01:44 PM

"The Democrats who have signed on to the anti-Wal-Mart jihad are enemies of the little guy, plain and simple."

Oh, really.

WalMart is a target becuase they pay their employees so little that they end up on the dole, using public funds and being on welfare, using food stamps and taxpayer funded health care.

It's corporate welfare and it allows Walmart to keep it's prices low by relying on tax money.

Which, last I checked, would make your typical conservative roll in his grave. But, I guess not you guys eh? You care for the little guy, after all - except after his store that provided comfortably for his family is put out of business.

Why do you support public tax money to help keep Walmart in business? Cause you hate socialism?


Posted by: Angryflower at September 14, 2006 01:49 PM

Matt and Michael both point out that Wal-Mart "allows" unions in China. I don't think they have a choice guys.

Are you saying you want the US to be more like China and force unions on companies and workers?

Have you ever been to China?

I have and trust me a unionized Chinese worker is far worse off that a non union janitor at your local Wal-Mart.

Posted by: The Ugly American at September 14, 2006 02:11 PM

Posted by: wpb at September 14, 2006 02:16 PM

I have enjoyed this debate thus far. Both sides seem to make interesting and sometimes valid points on the topic. However, my view is that none of us have enough information to debate this issue to the very end. There is more to this than unions, capitalism, world markets, and politics. There will be millions of personal stories of those that work/not work, shop/not shop at WalMart. These individual events and personal decisions made by these people change the dynamic of all these large issues being discussed in the above comments. My reflections about Walmart and Mr. Will's column will stay with me since their is no way to learn all that needs to be learned about this enormous issue and the ramifications of how this will turn out. Thank You

Posted by: The Sponge at September 14, 2006 02:51 PM

Wal-Mart is a target of Democrats because it actually supplants a little of the liberal welfare state

By encouraging its employees to get on welfare and Medicare, rather than paying them a living wage and providing them affordable health care?


Posted by: Michael Scott at September 14, 2006 07:38 PM

so let me get this straight. because the dems want wall mart to offer a living wage and health insurance that makes them the enemy of the little guy? but the children of walmart are 3 of the top ten wealthiest people in the world and they tell their employees to go to social services for food stamps and for their medical needs they are doing jesus' will of taking care of the poor? youre a fucking moron!!!

Posted by: andy phx at September 14, 2006 08:05 PM

Boy, the morons are out in force tonite. I don't even know where to start.

Well, the phrase 'living wage' might do. What is this other than a demand to distort using quasi-Stalinist tactics that the relationship between buyer and seller be corrupted in favor of few employees at the expense of the buyer and the business owner?

Tell you what, I think that all those who want a 'living wage' be paid be required to pay for their purchases a price that covers the cost of the 'living wage' while the rest of us continue to pay a price more closely associated with a free market, okay? Shouldn't hurt too much should it? Or is this 'living wage' thingy just a backdoor way to tax me for a program you aren't willing to fund yourself? Oh, nevermind, I forgot you're undoubtedly a hypocritical Lefty.

And, the rank envy is just too precious. Let's get that old class warfare cranked up.

andy phx, you're a fucking liar as well as an ignoramus.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 14, 2006 08:49 PM

By encouraging its employees to get on welfare and Medicare, rather than paying them a living wage and providing them affordable health care?

You have to "qualify" to get on these programs. Walmart has nothing to do with it. Walmart workers earning $10 an hour are no more or less likely to qualify for government assistance than Target, Kroger, Safeway, Kmart, Sears, or any other company's employees that make $10 an hour. $10 an hour is $10 an hour. And it is the prevailing wage across the industry.

Lefties hate Walmart because it is the world's largest success story as a business. Try as they might, Supersize Me, Roger and Me, and the Walmart hacks have gone after McDonalds, GM, and Walmart because they hate Capitalism. Like it or not, every company has problems and issues. Pay and benefits for employees is based on:

  • Job Market
  • Skills of the Worker
  • Needs of the Employer

Walmart pays what it does because people will work for it. People come to this country across the border and in numerous other ways every single day so that they could be so lucky as to make our minimum wage and live as well as we do. You think the folks working in a sweatshop making your Nikes live better or worse than our average Walmart worker in the US? And does the average Walmart worker have more skills? They simply live in the US and happen to possibly speak English. Otherwise, in most countries, unskilled workers scavenge through garbage dumps.

Walmart employs 1.3M Americans. These people are not bound to work at Walmart. There are other jobs. Walmart offers something that these employees want. Namely, working at Walmart is still better than most other comparable professions. Think "Would you like Fries with that?" And Walmart pays better. The folks at the low end are there for a reason. Walmart just passes the savings along to the rest of us.

Posted by: Justin B at September 14, 2006 08:59 PM

because the dems want wall mart to offer a living wage and health insurance that makes them the enemy of the little guy?

Oh, it would be better if these people were unemployed, I suppose?

And who are you to insist that any company, anywhere offer health insurance to its employees?

You want to insist that Wal-Mart raise its labor costs, thus ensuring that these costs get passed along to the consumer. This raises prices for the average Joe who shops there, and you are therefore diminishing their lifestyle.

Yeah, you guys are definitely enemies of the little guys, and enemies of freedom as well. You just laid out my thesis perfectly: you want Wal-Mart to give the health insurance that you really want the government to provide, and you want to take away the savings that lower income consumers enjoy there.

Thank you for perfectly illustrating what I am talking about.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at September 14, 2006 09:04 PM

The problem with Wal-Mart is a mirror image of monopoly called “monopsony.” Monopsony arises when a firm captures the ability to dictate price to its suppliers, because the suppliers have no real choice other than to deal with that buyer. The ultimate danger of monopsony is that it deprives the firms that actually manufacture products from obtaining an adequate return on their investment. Over time, it tends to destroy the machines and skills on which we all rely.
The idea that Wal-Mart’s power actually subverts the functioning of the free market will seem shocking to some. After all, the firm rose to dominance in the same way that many thousands of other companies before it did—through smart innovation, a unique culture, and a focus on serving the customer. Even a decade ago, Americans could fairly conclude that, in most respects, Wal-Mart’s rise had been good for the nation. But the problem now is how Wal-Mart uses its power today and will use it tomorrow; the problem is that Wal-Mart, like other monopsonists, does not participate in the market so much as use its power to manipulate the market.
One of the basic premises of the free-market system is that actors are free to buy from or sell to a variety of other actors. But once a firm comes to depend on selling through Wal-Mart’s system, just how conceivable is the idea of walking away? Producers own and maintain machines, employ skilled workers, lease land and buildings. Even with careful planning, most would find the sudden surrender of 20 percent or more of their revenue to be extremely disruptive, if not suicidal.
Another basic premise of the free-market system is that the price of a commodity or good carries vital information from actor to actor within an economy—say, that cherries are scarce, or vinyl floor tiles abundant, or the latest iPod includes a new technology But every producer knows that Wal-Mart sets take-it-or-leave-it prices, which as we know from the previous paragraph are far harder to leave than to take. Every so often Wal-Mart will accept a higher price, but then the retailer’s managers may opt to punish the offending supplier, perhaps by ratcheting up competition with its own in-house brands. Price, within the consumer economy, increasingly carries but one bit of information—that Wal-Mart is powerful enough to bend everyone else to its will.
Those who would use the word “free” to describe the market over which Wal-Mart presides should first consult with Coca-Cola’s product- design department; or with Kraft managers, or Kraft shareholders, or the Kraft employees who lost their jobs. These results were decided not within the scrum of the marketplace but by a single firm. Free-market utopians have long decried government industrial policy because it puts into the hands of bureaucrats and politicians the power to determine which firms “win” and which “lose.” Wal-Mart picks winners and losers every day, and the losers have no recourse to any court or any political representative anywhere.

Posted by: fiskhus jim at September 15, 2006 10:33 AM

Wal-Mart picks winners and losers every day, and the losers have no recourse to any court or any political representative anywhere.

You insinuate that the Walmart supply chain is negative for most of their suppliers. Quite the contrary. Walmart's supply chain is so efficient, that the actual costs of selling to Walmart are significantly lower. No Accounts receivable people or manual order taking because Walmart's entire ordering process is automated.

This allows producers to focus on manufacturing, not on sales, collection, ordering, etc. When you get picked up as a Walmart supplier, you are guaranteed to have a massive stream of consistent Just In Time ordering and no longer need massive sales and marketing staffs to generate these orders.

Walmart does not make their money by ruthlessly negotiating with suppliers, but rather by forcing new efficiencies on them. No supplier will sell products at a loss to Walmart. If these companies want to be profitable at Walmart's prices, they simply have to innovate and cut costs from their supply chain.

Walmart has led to massive increases in worker and company productivity by eliminating the inefficient nature of many of their suppliers' own supply chains and by providing them with one centralized major customer that purchases the majority of their product.

Jim seems to think that being beholden to one major supplier who gets a massive discount, but offers only one focal point of contact and uses massively automated ordering and information system is a bad thing. Forcing business to be more efficient is evil and wrong. Walmart is too powerful.

Guess what, every one of these things benefits consumers with lower prices, not Walmart with higher profits. Look at Walmart's revenues and their profits. They are running at miniscule margins because they pass the supply chain efficiencies on to their consumers. That is why they keep growing. Their prices are lower. What Jim is saying is that the producers should be more profitable and Walmart should pass along the higher prices of producer profit to the consumers. Is that what you are saying? Producer profits should come before the benefits of lower prices to consumers?

Posted by: Justin B at September 15, 2006 12:16 PM

I just found this thread from Salon.com.

It is so great that we live in a country where people of very little education and intelligence can hold forth on the issues of the day with a degree of certainty and closed-mindedness that any good Soviet would have envied.

Nearly all the commenters here, plus the author of the post, are so brain-washed by "conservative" dogma about how evil liberals are that they do not see how our failure to make the marketplace serve our society's needs hurts everyone, including all these brainless half-


A fire-breathing-liberal-who-doesn't-mind-if-you-want-to-live-like-a-medieval-serf-but-would- rather-not-live-like-that-himself.

Posted by: Jim Pharo at September 18, 2006 06:21 AM

Well I see the famous liberal condescension rears its ugly little head.

Anyone who disagrees with the great sage Jim Pharo has 'very little education and intelligence' and is 'close-minded'

Nice display of open-mindedness here on your part, Jim, is the irony of that totally lost on you?

Next we have an expert display of the liberal loathing of markets, which according to Jim 'our failure to make the marketplace serve our society's needs hurts everyone'.

Dictating to the markets how they are supposed to act and react destroys markets, which I think might be Jim's secret hope and dream here.

Jim is no doubt a fairly well-educated and well-fed individual, who can probably even afford a Salon.com subscription, who again sees no irony in whining about the very markets that have provided for him so very well.

So let's add liberal hypocrisy to the list.

Finally, I live like a medieval serf? Blogging here on my computer from my comfortable office, surrounded by my books and artwork?

Serfdom - I'll take it!

Posted by: Ken McCracken at September 18, 2006 12:47 PM