Tear down the Wal
In today's New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich argues that Wal-Mart's success is unsustainable, chiefly because its millions of employees will grow increasingly unable to afford the chain's own hyper-discounted wares, not to mention the class action lawsuits it faces for sexual discrimination and failure to pay overtime. Interestingly, Ehrenreich proffers an example of a successful retail chain that, according to her, treats its employees fairly: Costco. I have to admit I've never been to one.
I do believe there is a lot of elitism in the opposition to Wal-Mart, but it seems clear they mistreat their employees at potentially great cost to the nation's social welfare system. Personally, I don't blame Wal-Mart, as others do, for the destruction of Main Street business districts. I blame the local governments who have given them millions of dollars in subsidies nationwide, as well as all the government programs and regulations that have favored low-density suburban development over high-density urban development. (Highway expenditures, zoning codes, federal home loan programs, etc.) Wal-Mart is a symptom of a larger problem, but one most of our leaders--and many of the citizens who elect them--are unwilling to face.