Tuesday, August 29, 2006

# Posted 11:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WAL-MART BASHING: I was surprised to see Kevin Drum join the chorus. He reacted fiercely to a recent column by Sebastian Mallaby that lashed out at Democrats for scapegoating Wal-Mart even though its low prices actually make life more affordable for its customers, including the working class and poor.

I was also surprised that Kevin, with his passion for facts and figures, didn't try to dismantle Mallaby's evidence, but instead proclaimed that since Bush has screwed the unions and the working class, it's OK to make Wal-Mart a target.

Mallaby cited two studies to support his position. One, by Jason Furman (a John Kerry economic adviser), says that Wal-Mart offers health benefits comparable to other employers. The other, by a pair of researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, says that big box-stores reduce the average family's food bill by 25% and save American consumers around $200 billion per year.

Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read the papers yet, but if you have, please weigh in below and tell me what you think of their arguments.

UPDATE: Last December, Kevin linked to the same paper by Jason Furman that Mallaby cites. In the same post, Kevin also linked to three other liberal arguments in favor of Wal-Mart. Kevin offered no criticism then, but also no praise.
(20) opinions -- Add your opinion

Am I the only to think that Kevin seems increasingly unconcerned about making arguments for whatever position he wants to take?

Furthermore, it is hard for me to imagine, from my vantage point in the heartland (Wisconsin), how WalMart-bashing is going to be a vote-winning strategy. Sometimes it just looks like the Dems will do anything to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Zogby claims that 85% of weekly Wal-Mart shoppers voted for Bush in 2004. I find that completely unbelievable. There are a lot of Wal-Marts in black areas of the South, for example. And a lot of Hispanics shop at Wal-Mart. 85%? No way. However, if that statistic is true, then it makes perfect sense for Democrats to go after Wal-Mart. What do they have to lose? If they were to force Wal-Mart to unionize, offer better health care, and consequently higher prices, then the only people who would seem to suffer would be cultural right-wingers in the exurban and rural South and Midwest who vote Republican. Sounds like a good strategy then. We are talking politics, after all.
Leftists hates any institution/power structure they don't control. Ever notice how the MSM gave Abu Ghraib more attention than all recent soldiers who have won medals combined, times a hundred. Since you don't comprehend or acknowledge that basic fact it's no surprise that you are surprised Kevin Drum is joining the "chorus."
No, I don't comprehend or acknowledge that basic "fact".

If one believes that morality and ethics are an integral component of American foreign policy, then the significance of Abu Ghraib is clear.

What happened to our detainees there and elsewhere is a challenge to all that America stands for.
"If one believes that morality and ethics are an integral component of American foreign policy, then the significance of Abu Ghraib is clear."

Yes it is. And my point clearly went over your head which is quite disturbing actually. Try reading again very carefully.
Actually, your point didn't go over anyone's head. You didn't make a point.

I looked on stripes.com and didn't see any articles on medals. Is stripes.com part of the Liberal MSM? None on RedState either. Damn, those Liberals are everywhere.
As for WalMart bashing - what else are the Dems offering progressives domestic policy wise? Dean's talking points this cycle are just classic Clintonian triangulation. You know, what he was supposed to put an end to.

This about bringing out the base to win an election, and Kevin Drum choose group solidarity over intellectual honesty. That's interesting, but is it surprising?
From a customer's perspective, the UK could definitely use a few big box stores to break up the cozy conspiracy of high prices that seems to dominate everywhere here. Why should identical objects on amazon.co.uk cost twice what they do on amazon.com or amazon.ca?
Could it be shipping costs? Many of those books are probably coming from North America.
I'm a leftie and shop regularly at Costco.

They pay their employees a living wage and good benefits, while providing very affordable prices for the general public.

Also, their CEO is paid a good but not insane wage in proportion to the other employees (about $300K+ per year). He refused a bonus one year because although they turned a profit, "we didn't make our expected numbers and someone has to accept responsibility for that."

As for the first anonymous commenter, allow me to paraphrase Apocalypse Now:

I love the smell of hyperbole in the morning. It smells of desperation.

As I recall Costco principals are Democrat supporters.

Is Walmart so different from Costco. How many employees does Costco have.

How about some facts and figures relating to Costco.

Additionally, Costco' profit margin is the membership fee it charges.
Yesterday there was an article at http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=082906D which included a comparison of Walmart and Costco. It includes this paragraph:

"Costco has sales of $51 billion, 110,000 employees (45% part time, similar to WalMart isn't it?) and WalMart has sales (in North America) of $191 billion and 1.3 million associates. So Costco has sales of some $465,000 per employee and WalMart $147,000 per employee. That sounds about right to me, it's been a number of years since I lived in the US but Costco is the place where you drag that 50lb bag of rice to the door yourself, right? WalMart is the one where cheery souls are employed solely to bid you good day as you enter? So, in theory, we could in fact get WalMart to pay the same as Costco by making similarly efficient use of labor: that is, firing between two thirds and three quarters of their staff."

Two different ways of doing business. Which is fairer? Read the whole thing.
"I love the smell of hyperbole in the morning. It smells of desperation."

An appropriate description of the Left's bizarre animosity towards Wal-Mart.
An even more appropriate description of your flatulent commentary.

Sometimes you're just silly. Costco's profit according to their 2005 annual report was $1,000,000,000. For the membership fee to be the profit margin, they would have to have 25,000,000 members.


An even better comparison would be between Sam's Club, and Costco. According to Walmart's 2005 AR Sam's club provides for 13% of their sales, about $37,078,860,000. Costco reports sales of $51,862,000,000 with fewer stores. Costco's stock closed at $47 today, Walmart at $44.

Who has the better business model here?
Let's keep the temperature down, OK?

Instead, let's celebrate great savings that both liberals and conservatives can enjoy at Wal-Mart and Costco. ;)
Thanks Randy. It's important to remember that Costco's business model resembles Sam's Club, not Wal-Mart. The comparison to Wal-Mart is Target and K-Mart, not Costco. Interesting that the Democratic head of Costco doesn't believe in paying himself so much, especially when he thinks the company has performed poorly. Accountability in the CEO's office? Impossible.
"... Ever notice how the MSM gave Abu Ghraib more attention than all recent soldiers who have won medals combined, times a hundred. ..."

I thought this crap sounded familiar. This is from Rumsfeld's American Legion speech on Tuesday where he says that war critics are like Nazi appeasers. Rumsfeld's crap was:

"When a database search of America’s leading newspapers turns up 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who was punished for misconduct, than mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror."

Plagiarized crap.

There were 3 articles on stripes.com on Smith, including Rumsfeld's own speech. There were 204 articles mentioning Abu Ghraib.
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