Friday, November 18, 2005
Sanctimonious liberalism vs. dubious financial figures. One of the worst interviews ever on DemocracyNow!
I have an e-mail from Mr. Galloway that persuades me that there is absolutely no basis for the numbers he quoted. His explanation was so deficient that I think I had better leave it to him to try to present what he was trying to say.
But let me make a better argument than he has and that deals with the issues Anonymous has raised. Every new technology creates new demand, the demand helps bring new businesses into existence as the supplier, and creates jobs outside of the original business. Ideally, tax revenue is collected, used to educate a new generation, which goes on to invent new technologies.
The correct term for this is "the virtuous circle," in which invention feeds economic growth and economic growth feeds invention. Or infrastructure improvements. Or social efficiencies like public health. Or anything that in turn feed economic growth.
It's easy to make a virtuous circle argument for industries like vaccines, solar panels, telephony, and soon nanotechnology and the hydrogen economy (not as envisioned by Bush). Each one has benefits and costs, but the benefits have far outweighed the costs.
Opponents of Wal-Mart should listen to people like Ron Galloway. Galloway is making a virtuous circle argument. Indeed, Wal-Mart has always made such an argument, that its more efficient inventory management system and supplier relations amount to a new technology.
And give them credit. Wal-Mart does use building space far more efficiently than most businesses, creating what's called a high turnover ratio. They did pioneer database inventory management.
The question remains whether the benefits Wal-Mart produces are greater than or less than the bad things. In a better world, a Congress dedicated to serving the American people would investigate and tell us. Since academics lack the subpoena power of Congress, no one can force Wal-Mart to disclose information that could cause people to conclude that the benefits they produce are illusory. Nothing is left except Wal-Mart spin, toothless business journalism, and Robert Greenwald.
I have made a basic case that the negative externalities Wal-Mart creates (like dumping employees on Medicaid, hiring illegals, cheating employees out of pay, and so on) account for the entirety of their supposed advantage in business performance. If they operated under basic moral and legal constraints, they'd be a much smaller company.
Like maybe one outlet in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Sorry if this seems like a sharp response, Anonymous.
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