Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Wal-Mart is beneficial to the nation and will be to Pullman"

The backlash against Jimmy Blue's PARD propaganda piece has begun in the Daily Evergreen:

Normally, when people I know get upset about the (perhaps now definite) construction of a Wal-Mart in Pullman, I smile and nod and say that I pleasantly disagree that the gates of Hell will open up once the dreaded Arkansas behemoth opens a new store here. However, Jimmy Blue’s Monday editorial lamenting the recent court decision allowing Wal-Mart to proceed should not pass without comment.

I don’t know if Wal-Mart has ever advertised itself as a purveyor of fine, upscale quality goods; rather, it has always been a retailer that focused on making low-cost goods available to low – and middle – income families that weren’t located in, or conveniently near, large urban retail markets. In following this business model, Wal-Mart has become the largest, most effective purchasing agent working to lower out-of-pocket costs to consumers in the United States. Its presence has inspired other retailers such as Target and Kohl’s and Fred Meyers, in turn, to provide lower costs and greater choices to U.S. consumers than they would otherwise have.

From what I know of U.S. economic and business history that’s a pretty traditional way to make a profit, and if that’s due to monopoly power, we could use a lot more of it in more sectors of our economy. Or perhaps Mr. Blue decries the downfall of the friendly small-town retail monopolist? Sure, he charged high prices and never had much selection and we couldn’t really go anywhere else to shop, but at least he was “our” monopolist, right?

Steven Peterson graduate research assistant, school of economic sciences
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1 comment:

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

I wonder if they would perceive my thoughts on the matter as an "attack letter" and not print it...

Very simply, I want to know why it is that the PARDners and other Walmart opponents think we have a duty to keep less efficient businesses in business at our personal expense, why it is that we have a duty to pay higher prices than we would otherwise?

Whether they realize it or not, this is the essence of what is lurking behind their rhetoric.