Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bainbridge on Wal-mart again

Another good post on Wal-mart by conservative law professor Stephen Bainbridge.

As I've noted before with regard to the professor's view, there is a conservative case against Wal-mart, and it's a serious one.

11 comments:

Dan said...

Why single out Walmart? State and local governments offer tax incentives to all kinds of businesses, large and small (particularly manufacturing, for example Indiana just won a major bidding war against OH for a new Honda plant). I doubt that Walmart gets favorable treatment over any of these other businesses if you calculate incentives as a percentage of tax revenues generated.

So if you’re going to say incentives are unfair for Walmart, then you have to say that they’re unfair to give them to anyone. Therefore this is not a serious conservative case against Walmart, this is just a general complaint about tax incentives given to businesses. (Which by the way is an argument I would listen to: why not just lower taxes for everyone instead of one specific business you’re trying to lure into your locale? The fact that concessions are necessary to get new business is an indication in itself that your taxes are too high.)

I don’t know what motivates Professor Bainbridge to attack this venerable institution other than a self-described preference for more aesthetically pleasing stores. I’m sure that the majority of Walmart customers (median income $30,000) are less interested in quaintness and more interested in providing their families necessities at an affordable price. Fortunately for Professor Bainbridge there are plenty of stores available to accommodate snobs willing to fund their desired shopping environment with their expendable cash. I have a suspicion that another reason for this attack is to allow Bainbridge to say while hanging out with his pointy-headed elitist friends, “I too hate Walmart.”

Chris Burgwald said...

There's more to (community) life than efficiency and cheap goods, Dan. (Or is this Deech posing as Dan?) If you follow the link within Bainbridge's post (it's the "observed" link), you'll get the meatier objection to Wal-Mart (it's a post I linked to in May of '05). You never get something for nothing... what is being sacrificed when Wal-mart comes into a small town and rubs out the competition? Nothing? I think not.

And I'm fairly certain in asserting that your suspicion is wrong... it's more Dean than Bush to impugn one's motives than address the substance of a position, is it not?

Deech said...

First of all, I am honored that Mr.Burgwald mistook the first post as one of my own. Its as fine a piece of writing as I've seen in a long time and I've been reading this blog for awhile. Dan, whoever you are, keep fightin' the good fight, man!

Second, Burgy, its not at all clear to me that your understanding of the TCS article is that it is a unabashed defense of Wal-Mart.

Lastly, as Dan has so ably pointed out but left me to say explicitly, there is no conservative case against Wal-Mart.

--The poor you will always have with you--

Jesus Christ

Chris Burgwald said...

First of all, that's DR. Burgwald, to you, Deech.

Second, since I didn't refer to Worstall's article, I'm not sure why you're bringing it up.

Finally -- and as I noted in our convo in May of '05 -- your assertion is true *only* if conservatism is equated with corporatism. As I did then, I encourage you, Deech, and others to read this article on real conservatism.

Deech said...

Dr.Burgy,

I referred to it because its irrefutable. And because I thought you made cause of it, which as it turns out you had not and with which such reluctance I am entirely sympathetic.

Allow me to disabuse you of the notion that I am in favor of corporatism. I am opposed to corporatism. Don’t make me do any more abusing, dis- or otherwise.

Of course I don’t hold that Wal-Mart represents any such thing so I am not compelled to defend corporatism as much fun as it would be.

Are you a Crunchy Con?

Chris Burgwald said...

Deech, I'm not going to discuss this further until you read Henrie's article.

Deech said...

Works for me. And I'm not talking with you until you read the Wealth of Nations by Saint Adam Smith.

Chris Burgwald said...

Okay, I'm violating my own gag order to make two points:

First of all, asking you (again) to read an *article* is a bit different than asking me to read a lengthy tome.

Second, your request betrays that fact that you still don't get it: CONSERVATISM IS ABOUT MORE THAN ECONOMICS. While Adam Smith is essential to understanding capitalism, conservatism is about more than free markets, something which I know you know most of the time, but seem to forget on occasion.

So if your request is going to be equivalent to my one, you'll have to recommend an article that articulates conservatism as a whole.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

For what it's worth, I used to be a Walmart defender, and then I represented several Walmart employees in a wage and hour action against Walmart. I came away from my experience with the opinion that the claims that Walmart systematically violates the rights of workers are well-founded.

I never had a problem with Walmart's success, but if if it obtained that success by taking competitive advantage of law-abiding small businesses, then celebrating that kind of success is not consistent with the conservativism that I believe in.

Dan said...

If Walmart's workers rights violations were truly systematic they would have been driven out of business years ago because opportunistic lawyers jump all over any large company whenever they can find an 'i' not dotted or a 't' left uncrossed in wage and hour dealings.

What is wrong with obtaining success by 'taking competetive advantage'? Isn't this what any competitor (large or small) should attempt to do?

The replacement of the small general store by Walmart is just a natural part of evolution. This isn't just a retailing phenomenon, it has happened in communication, transportation, energy, etc. for decades and continues to happen. That's why life is easier now than it was 100 years ago. I think the reason that people complain about the loss of Mom & Pop and their no-return policies is that a bunch of bleeding-heart boomers are getting nostalgic for the good ol' days. Can't imagine there was this much fuss when the pony express was shut down.

Chris Burgwald said...

Dan, your perspective is obviously one which you're free to hold, and one which a good number of people do in fact hold.

But don't pretend it's a conservative view, unless "conservative" means nothing more than that held by a majority of the people who call themselves "conservative", rather than an outlook on life as articulated by the founders of modern conservatism, e.g. Russell Kirk.

As with Deech, I'd encourage you to read Henrie's essay, although I'm not going to make it as stringent a demand in your case :-)