The Necessity of Wal-Mart

Do I enjoy the reports that Wal-Mart has contributed to a drain of American capital to China, which I can see for myself with MADE IN CHINA stamped on many products sold there? No. Should American workers have the opportunity to compete? Of course. Naturally enough, I do look for MADE IN USA and buy that label often, whether there or elsewhere. It’s a mark of quality, and I readily admit that quality is worth a few extra coins.

But it is profoundly arrogant and hypocritical for high income, latte sipping “limousine liberals” who can afford to avoid Wal-Mart to sit in an ivory tower, insulated from day to day reality of paychecks and bills, and belittle:
1. The very system of capitalism which provides all their income and opportunity,
2. Wal-Mart itself for doing merely what every other business in this nation’s history has tried — to master its market, and
3. American consumers themselves for seeking the lowest price, instead of paying more for union-made goods.

As for me, I don’t need to shop there, I choose to. My MADE IN USA Diet Dr Pepper was $.88/2 liters tonight at the Wal-Mart in east Norman, a price nobody else could match. Same went for the Diet Cokes I bought for Elke, the Hallmark card, the brick of “Irish Spring” (Colgate-Palmolive) soap bars, the Flaming Hot Cheetos for Donna’s snacks, or any of many other MADE IN USA goods there.

For me to go to Albertson’s or Homeland (a pricey regional grocery chain), knowingly and voluntarily pay 25-50% more for the same stuff, then turn around and gripe about our government’s discretionary pork-barrel overspending, would be patently hypocritical. So I shop at Wal-Mart, with gratitude and without the tiniest speck of regret. [Yes, I still buy clothes for myself and my family at thrift stores too. Why not? Our government’s so-called “conservatives,” as well as the outright liberals, all should take a lesson from frugal family economics.]

By contrast, many folks need the discounts Wal-Mart offers. For poorer Americans, of which I was one for a quarter century, the reality is that grocery and clothing prices make a difference in what, and which, bills can be paid this month. I know. I’ve been there.

The ability to shop at Wal-Mart and still have some cash left over for bills is an absolute godsend for hundreds of thousands of poor in this country. Food stamps (of which my parents sometimes were a reluctant recipient, now converted to plastic cards) go farther there. So does the earned dollar, of course.

Contrary to popular belief, to take out Wal-Mart is to devastate the working class and working poor, not help them.

News flash: The cat’s out of the bag on discount stores. Even if you could magically exterminate Wal-Mart, something else would rush to fill the very same need, in about the same way. Notice I said need, not niche.

To those who whine about Wal-Mart’s size and influence without offering practical answers that result in no loss of value and selection for the low income consumer: Shut up and solve the problem! If indeed it is a problem…

Finally, for all the other merchants who complain about Wal-Mart’s “tactics” and want them gone, the answer is brutally simple and the same as it always has been: Do it better, or get out.


2 Responses to “The Necessity of Wal-Mart”

  1. todd on February 2nd, 2006 11:18 am

    …do people hate Wal-Mart because of their success or what? I agree that the very people who complain are probably wealthy enough (thanks to the capitalism they seem to despize in Wal-Mart) to avoid the place. Go figure.

  2. Scott on March 27th, 2006 7:18 pm

    Somebody has managed to keep Super Wal-Marts (the ones with grocery stores) outside of a 50-mile radius of Washington, DC, although we do have small regular Wal-Mart Stores. For groceries, we’re stuck with the unionized Safeways, Giant Foods, etc., or the chi-chi Whole Foods. So what do I do? When I visit my cousin in a small town 150 miles from here, I do a major stock-up at his Super Wal-Mart, or at the Super Target, which also carries groceries. All the unions are doing is encouraging people to shop farther away in the distant suburbs.

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