Wal-Mart Syndrome
Friend or foe of citizen empowerment?

Here’s a conundrum (a puzzle with no easy solution) for you:

What’s wrong with a mass-merchandising giant bulldozing one of its dollar-days aircraft hangars and mile-square runways into the countrysides of the world?  With Wal-Mart you “always get the lowest price.  Always.”

Isn’t the free market all about satisfying the consumer as efficiently as possible?  I was just at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club with someone who has a membership.  As with its competitors Sam’s gets some of the best brands the cheapest.  Good deal, especially if you can store things in your basement for a decade or two.

What communist would complain about Sam’s or its Wal-Mart ancestry?


A documentary movie came out in 2005, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.  Though some of the film is slanted toward sacred cows of the modern Left, its core message is the special privileges Wal-Mart uses to violate individual property rights and community well-being.

The film is also highly successful in capturing the emotional trauma inflicted on people whose businesses and livelihoods are destroyed when Wal-Mart—the lesson applies to many large government-franchised corporations—force-marches your enterprise zone into the cornfields.

Ultimately, we’re dealing with a large worldwide issue here:

  How is it we would like our lives to go in our communities;
  how do we manage the commons; what if any privileges
  (Latin for private laws) do we give to corporations; are
  limited-liability corporations morally valid; are corporations
  persons; who died and made them king?

A valuable book in answering such questions is one I reviewed last week, Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and the theft of human rights.  Others exist; I’ll even mention a pro-corporation book:  Robert Hessen, a onetime Ayn Rand guy, wrote In Defense of the Corporation in 1979.

Frankly, I’m in exploratory mode toward the entity we know as the corporation, as I’m sure are many of my fellow righteous beanies and citizens.
As a radical libertarian, I’m definitely opposed to corporate personhood, SLAPP suits, privileged tax treatment, giving public lands to corporations, offloading corporations’ business costs to innocent civilians, giving special legal treatment or exemptions, and so on.
Citizen empowerment and Big Corporo depowerment go hand in hand.

As for the previous question of warehouse shopping, it seems right or at least not unright given the “oil-car-road” monopoly we’ve been stuck with.   Generally, in America anyway, one has to travel by car large distances to get one’s daily needs.  Might as well stock up cheap.

But give me a neighborhood hardware store (there still are some), a neighborhood office supply store (all gone now), or a neighborhood grocery store (still a few) any day.  I’ll pay few extra dollars per trip for the quality-of-life experience.  Neighborhood bars and restaurants, too!  Neighborhood most things, anyplace with real people.

I’m so tired of the chains… the chains of the chains.  The chains that shackle us to multiple hierarchies of soulless drones whose sole concern is the quarterly position of a dot on a piece of electronic tickertape.  As people we can, and will, do better.


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