business news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting column in the San Diego Union-Tribune by James O. Goldsborough that looks at questions raised by Wal-Mart's remarkable growth, specifically how the blanketing of the nation in supercenters will affect communities.

He writes, "Antitrust vigor has faded in our globalized world, allowing mastodons to stroll the Earth again. Happy with low prices, Wal-Mart customers don't connect those prices to the demise of neighborhood stores, the influx of illegal immigrants or the use of foreign suppliers to replace U.S. companies…"

"In economic theory, pure competition drives down prices and everyone benefits: consumers with lower prices, owners with greater profits, workers with higher wages," Goldsborough writes. "In the real world, competition is never pure, which is why antitrust legislation was written."

He notes that "antitrust laws were one protection against rapaciousness, and organized labor was another. With unions, tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, George Pullman and Henry Ford no longer could dictate wages via goon squads. Taken together, antitrust legislation and organized labor helped to modulate business practices and create the American middle class.

"Where will Wal-Mart find minimum-wage workers for its new supercenters, to help lower its prices, break the unions at traditional stores and drive those stores out of business?

"That's where Bush's illegal immigrant amnesty comes in. Under his plan, illegal immigrants can be legalized if an employer sponsors them.

"Wal-Mart, already gaining national attention for its labor abuses, will be the first sponsor in line."
KC's View:
We know that by running pieces of this commentary we run the risk of being attacked by pro-Wal-Mart folks, apologists for the Bentonville Behemoth, and assorted other folks outraged by such commentary.

But it seems to us that even if you disagree with the commentary, you need to understand that it accurately reflects the tenor of anti-Wal-Mart feeling in this country.

If you agree with its conclusions…well, then it makes you feel less alone.