Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is Wal-Mart Good for You?

Globalization vs. localization, "free" markets vs. "protectionist" nationalism. Rick Young, Hedrick Smith (with classic narration by Will Lyman), Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America? (2004) and Robert Greenwald's Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005) take a look at the nature of things.

To some degree, modern economic choices come down to pricing. How valuable is something? What role does a discount or other incentive play in "item selection?" What are we willing to pay for something? How much can we pay for it? How much do we need it vs. want it? What are we willing to give up to get what we want? And: what happened to Sears and K-Mart?

Pulling back a little, what do we value in life?

I value: decent health (including food, shelter, clothing, less toxic environments), privacy, freedom, mobility, companionship and culture (including ubiquitous interconnectivity and diverse exchange of ideas).

Do I value Wal*Mart? Not in the least. However, I checked out prices for some goods that I like (coffee, for instance) and see they undercut the prices of many other venues by 10-30%. Will I buy stuff in bulk from Wal*Mart? Probably not. But I can see why many people do -- bang for the buck.

Yesterday's Rune: Disruption (cold, snow and blah). Today's: Fertility.


Sidney said...

My wife and I have opted not to shop at Wal-Mart even though it's closer to our house. Maybe it doesn't mean a thing, but you do what you can and I feel like I don't want to support many of their practices.

Lana Gramlich said...

We have taken a solemn vow not to shop at Wal*Mart, but in some cases its either that or a 70 mile drive (& all the pollution that entails.) As for the low prices, we now see exactly how much lead that'll get people. I laugh at those who got up in arms, considering they're part of the problem to begin with. I prefer to support local businesses & bypass lead, insane crowds & poor customer service altogether.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, what Lana said.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments --
well, I bought a pound of coffee in a "caffeine emergency opportunity" there once, but that's about it . . .