The behemoth that is Walmart. Maybe not evil

Peter Suderman at Reason tweeted several counters to the progressive view that Walmart is inherently evil. Business Insider has posted them. I tend to agree. Walmart is so freaking huge that no matter what they do, it will have consequences. They currently emphasize renewable energy, cutting waste in packaging, and put compact florescent light bulbs into the mainstream – all of which can be considered progressive They also pay crappy and have lousy benefits. As do many other retailers.

We recently lived in Cedar City UT for two years. Without a Walmart there, goods and food would be much harder to find, and much more expensive. Plus, when a Walmart comes to a town of 30,000, Home Depot usually does do, and that helps even more.

And you can’t beat Walmart’s prices. Really. For example, to a family of four living on $25,000 a year or less, spending $25 less on groceries a week is a serious big deal.

Obama advisor Jason Furman:

A range of studies has found that Wal-Mart’s prices are 8 percent to 39 percent below the prices of its competitors.

That’s a huge savings for households in the bottom quintile, which, on average, spend 26 percent of their income on food. In fact, it is equivalent to a 6.5 percent boost in household income.

I am also upset by the rise of inequality and the relatively slow economic progress that the bottom 80 percent of Americans have made over the last several decades. I just think Wal-Mart is the wrong place to put the blame or to expect the solution.