In Defense of Wal-Mart

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Wal-Mart and other big box stores face staunch opposition in many counties in the United States. Rallies and other public displays of anti-Wal-Mart sentiment are common.

It’s unfortunate considering all of the benefits Wal-Mart brings to town.

Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

Hop off that high horse. Think for yourself.

Wal-Mart provides a valuable service to citizens, despite what pro-union factions, self-righteous demagogues and other anti-big business individuals think.

The savings from commodities purchased at Wal-mart are significant. With extra cash in hand, consumers can spend more money at other local businesses. In turn, more local business owners can continue to serve the needs of the community. There will be some competing businesses that are negatively impacted, but the effects are mitigated. Wal-Mart attracts valuable foot and automobile traffic from neighboring towns into its stores. One Wal-Mart store will also pay millions of dollars in property taxes a year to its resident community, infusing much needed cash into stretched-to-the-limit town coffers.

Local residents find employment that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Wal-Mart needs greeters, cashiers, sales associates, stockers and a host of other people to man its stores. A steady job confers a certain dignity upon an employee; there’s much more gained from employment than just a source of income.

Wal-Mart also brings other big-name franchises to town as well. Nearly every Wal-Mart store is flanked by eateries and other in-demand businesses. An influx of new businesses means more jobs and more money for the community.

Why can’t Wal-Mart pay a “fair” wage?“ – Wal-Mart critic

Worker compensation is a big point of contention for Wal-Mart detractors. “Wal-Mart pays sweatshop wages” is a common refrain.

First, what constitutes a ’“fair” wage? Is this amount the value at which detached, third-parties no longer feel that employees are being exploited? How do we determine that value?

The most equitable definition of a fair wage is the amount at which an employer and employee agree to work, sans government mandate. This “fair” wage would be determined by supply and demand.

Let’s look at this wage discussion on a macro level.  Enter Minimum Wage Laws.

If forcing employers to raise their minimum hourly salaries is the best answer for attacking poverty, why not raise the minimum wage to $50 an hour? Wouldn’t hourly workers be better off?

If you understand the problem with elevating the minimum wage (in 2011 dollars) to $50 an hour, then you can see why artificial increases in the minimum wage often harm the very people they’re intended to help.

Losses in employment are often insidious. It’s very easy to calculate how many jobs are lost when a local factory closes down. However, when mandates are instituted that discourage hiring  (e.g. minimum wage laws), jobs that are sorely needed by communities go elsewhere (or are eliminated altogether).

Those people don’t even realize they’ve been hurt.

Wal-Mart ruthlessly cuts costs  by controlling every aspect of production, allowing them to offer the lowest prices to customers. Payroll costs are included in the price of every item you buy, whether it’s from Wal-Mart or the small coffee shop around the corner. Increases in costs means higher prices for consumers.

I don’t know anyone who wants to walk into a store and pay MORE for their goods.

Well, why can’t Wal-mart just make less profit? Tell them to leave a little more for everyone else.

Businesses exist to make money.

They may have other goals such as job creation or environmental conservation, but their primary motivation is profit. When governments decide to control wages, prices, and profits, they impact the behavior of every individual and organization within its borders, often with unintended consequences. When you reduce profit incentive, you decrease the amount of goods and services available to the public.

There’s a reason why citizens from every other country in the world comes here for pharmaceuticals and medical care when they get sick.

If Wal-Mart wants to lower its profit margin to appease critics, that’s their prerogative (although any reduction in profit would probably have little to no impact on it’s public image. Wal-Mart haters would find something else to criticize).

This is another instance of a vocal minority making decisions for a larger, seemingly less fortunate majority. In essence, Wal-Mart detractors are insinuating that lower class citizens are not able to make their own decisions, an infinitely more insulting act than anything Wal-Mart has done to its patrons.

The presence of a Wal-Mart is a net-win for communities.

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