Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IRATE MODERATES....Sebastian Mallaby has a column in the Washington Post today that's so relentlessly misguided that I just don't have the energy to take it on. But I do want to say one thing about it, because it fits into the "irate moderate" theme that I was talking about a few days ago.

The column is about Wal-Mart, and Mallaby is complaining that although moderate Dems got out of the corporation-bashing business in the late 80s, they've since lost the religion. Every single moderate Dem even Joe Lieberman! is now bashing Wal-Mart. "How can supposedly centrist Democrats defend this betrayal of their principles?" he asks sadly.

Well, here's the thing. When every single moderate Dem starts attacking Wal-Mart, maybe nobody's betraying any principles at all. Instead, maybe they've figured out something that Mallaby hasn't: it's not the 80s anymore and things have changed. And one of the things that's changed is that Wal-Mart has gotten a lot bigger, unions have continued shrinking, working class wages have stagnated, and corporate power has grown tremendously. It's perfectly rational for even moderate, pro-business Dems to look at the record of the past couple of decades and conclude that things have gotten pretty far out of whack and that Wal-Mart is a good symbol of this imbalance.

In other words, reality matters, not just politics. At one of my panel sessions this weekend, a member of the audience asked if reading blogs for the past four years had made me less willing than before to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt. I answered that it would be silly to pretend that reading people like Digby and Atrios hadn't affected my political views, but that something much more important had happened during my time reading blogs: George Bush had mismanaged the country for four years. Anyone sentient who has simply watched Bush govern during that time would be less inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Hell, even conservatives feel that way.

The same is true more broadly. There's a reason that so many former moderates are so irate these days, and it's not because they aren't moderates anymore. It's because moderates should be irate over the events of the past decade. People like Mallaby seem unable to figure that out, and therefore assume that any change of heart is motivated not by events, but by a "betrayal" of principles.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The American economy has changed for the worse over the past couple of decades if you're part of the working or middle class, and over the same period the Newt Gingrich-inspired Republican Party has changed the nature of partisan politics into a scorched earth cultural bloodbath. Of course moderates are pissed. Of course they've changed their views. They'd be nuts not to.

POSTSCRIPT: But I will (partly) concede one point to Mallaby: it's foolish to paint Wal-Mart or the broader business community as "evil." They aren't, any more than ordinary human beings are evil. It's just that, left to their own devices, both humans and corporations tend to act solely in their own self-interest. That's why we have laws to control human behavior, and it's why we need laws and regulations to control corporate behavior. I prefer a society in which people don't gun each other down in the streets, and I also prefer a society in which middle class workers prosper when the economy grows. I support laws that encourage both.

Kevin Drum 5:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (178)

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Comments

Wrong again, Kevin. Wal-Mart has transformed the U.S. econmy from one based on small mom-n-pops that fleece poor people by overcharging for toothpaste to one in which lower everyday prices have made eveyone rich--just look at flat panel TV sales! Wal-Mart is the ultimate expression of the human potential and Sam will be treated like Jesus many years from now. All hail Wal-Mart bringer of light (bulbs), giver of life(-style magazines), and friend of children(s toys)!!!

Posted by: Al on August 28, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

> They aren't, any more than ordinary
> human beings are evil.

Well, according to many evangelicals, Christians in general, and Republicans, human beings ARE by nature evil and that evil must be tightly controlled at all times. The current mania for controlling female sexuality is only an extreme example; their philosophy contains many warnings about the innate evil of man.

So, since we now live in the Radical Republic and are governed by fundamentalists, why can't we assume that corporations are evil as well as their human prototypes?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on August 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

You really are just a bad joke, aren't you Al? Whether a liberal attempting satire or a stunningly unimaginative conservative shill, you're a witless failure.

Posted by: Paul A. Brmmer on August 28, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

it's foolish to paint Wal-Mart or the broader business community as "evil." They aren't, any more than ordinary human beings are evil. It's just that, left to their own devices, both humans and corporations tend to act solely in their own self-interest. That's why we have laws to control human behavior, and it's why we need laws and regulations to control corporate behavior.

nicely put.

Posted by: cleek on August 28, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Al... really, honestly, your schtick is boring.

Posted by: cleek on August 28, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

The main problem, it seems to me, is that the Washington press has an extremely odd definition of what it means to be moderate---just as the Washington press has an extremely odd definition of objectivity, but that's a different kvetch.

By Washington press standards, a moderate must be someone whose views are midway between two arbitrarily chosen extremes. Moderation by this standards is a state of mind or a tactical act of positioning, not a coherent set of principles.

I find the Washington press's version of objectivity an entirely worthless goal to strive for. Their version of moderation is equally worthless. The fact that they bestow that label as a compliment, and almost universally fail to explain why they mean when they call someone a moderate, says something quite bad about Washington press habits.

Posted by: Matt Austern on August 28, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'd agree corportaions aren't per se "evil", but the single minded pursuit of self interest inevitably leads to evil results. There is essentially no morality or ethics mediating this pursuit. They're not purposefully trying to harm, but have no restrictions on doing so.
Of course, this also applies to individuals, but individuals generally have a conscience, and in any case, society recognizes that personal behavior needs to be regulated to some extent.
The pure free market corporation idea doesn't recognize this. It's much more of a raw evolution thesis, the strong survive, by whatever means. People, not being corporations (although corporations are "persons"), simply don't figure into the corporate construct.

Posted by: sal on August 28, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wal-Mart will stop being a Democratic whipping boy the second they unionize. Follow the dues money.

Posted by: jerry on August 28, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

No, Kevin, Wal-Mart IS evil. It is not your average corporation. Its business model is to rape and pillage america. Most corporations don't do that.

Posted by: Jason on August 28, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

If you've seen the movie "The Corporation," you'd know that, if you ascribed the characteristics of your typical multination corporation to an individual, you'd have a sociopath.

Posted by: brewmn on August 28, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with this --

The Bush adminstration is been run by people who are convinced that they should make the masses believe that government is an evil. They install incompetence at every level, precisely so that the display of their own government incompetence vindicates their ideology. Meanwhile, they proceed to loot the public treasury at every level.

Who would not be irate at seeing this kind of self-serving behavior, moderate or no?

Posted by: Diana on August 28, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

You are just another reactionary, Kevin. Sadly, this post is inept and bereft of scientific analysis.
"Of course moderates are pissed. Of course they've changed their views. They'd be nuts not to."
...Riiiiiiiight...they (and we) would all be 'nuts' not to interpret things like you, view things like you, and react to things like you. Nuts? Gimme a break.
All I hear from you is bias and the tired conclusions of 1. Bush is an idiot! 2. More laws, more laws! 3. Don't ever criticize those who complain about society! You just don't get it!
(You don't just disagree with Mallaby...he is simply 'unable to figure that out'....so he's an idiot too, ay?
Piss off

Posted by: bj on August 28, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Go figure, 120 years after the social bottoming out of the Industrial Revolution and Laissez Faire Capitalism and 70 years after the beginning of the Great Depression we once again discover that slavish devotion to the idea od the Free Market primarily benefits those that have capital at the expense of those that don't.

And we all forgot about this because of ......

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on August 28, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "It's because moderates should be irate over the events of the past decade. People like Mallaby seem unable to figure that out,"

People like Mallaby are bought-and-paid-for shills for the corporatocracy, and it's their job to be "unable to figure that out."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 28, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

It is a rich irony that the country that pioneered the textbook and middle-class literacy, as well as built many of the world's great universities, did so with the blessing and endowment of our great industrial magnates. You may fault Carnegie, Morgan and Ford for attempting to engineer workers suited to their technical needs, but what is the legacy of today's corporate leaders -- "No Child Left a Dime?" What happened to that United Technology CEO that promised making PhDs for all the national priority?

Posted by: kostya on August 28, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

bj, I must say that that post of yours is certainly full of of "scientific analysis." You sure let Kevin have it, and I'm impressed by your command of all that contrasting data. But maybe next time if you just want to save time you could just utlize by teenager's favorite form of argument:

"Whatever, nuh-uh."

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on August 28, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

That's why we have laws to control human behavior, and it's why we need laws and regulations to control corporate behavior. I prefer a society in which people don't gun each other down in the streets, and I also prefer a society in which middle class workers prosper when the economy grows. I support laws that encourage both.

Kevin, this is a gem. In simple and easy to understand language, it explains a core element of Democratic ideology while at the same time highlighting the hypocritical conflict in Republican ideology (whereby they want to impose their repressive religious morality on individuals through regulation while at the same time giving corporations virtually free reign to lie cheat and steal, damn the consequences). Bravo!

Posted by: Augustus on August 28, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent posting, Squire Drum. I read Mallaby's column this morning, and the only sense I could make if it was that he had decided to accept clandestine funding from Walmart. Either that or, desperate for this week's column he had reprinted a Walmart PR release. I believe Mallaby is/was a Brit. If this is the case then, as a Brit, I apologize profusely to the American public for Mallaby's appalling bad manners in visiting this chortling claptrap upon you, our translatlantic cousins.
Chin up, what what?

Posted by: Jim on August 28, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm now let me think. American Automobile industry, Heavily unionized, Overpriced unaffordable cars, I can't afford to buy a new car. Walmart, no union, low prices, I can afford to shop there. Duh

Posted by: TruthPolitik on August 28, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I read a policy paper or hear a commercial from Wal-Mart I always wonder at what price are we paying for this?

What century are we in, again?

I don't understand why education, safety, and liberty - pursuit of the American Dream? - are supposed to be luxuries rather than necessecities.

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

you can buy a car at walmart? is it a special invisible car that only dumb-fucks can see?

Posted by: Nads on August 28, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wal-Mart is doing what Sears-Roebuck did before: reducing the costs of merchandise.

You can make people richer by reducing the costs of what they buy, or by giving them more money. Generally, the former works better, and the latter causes inflation without increasing material wealth; but lots of people feel better by getting wage increases than they do by having costs decline.

Ford made Americans richer by cutting the labor costs of automobiles. There is a legend that he succeeded by paying his workers enough to buy cars, but most of his workers couldn't afford them for a long time, and most purchasers had lots more money than Ford workers. He drove the "mom and pop" automakers out of business; they had to find new jobs, but America was considerably richer in the supply of automobiles, even though the automobiles were cheaper.

Posted by: republicrat on August 28, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

"humans . . . tend to act solely in their own self-interest"

Kevin, I hope this was just an off-the-cuff gaff. Humans aren't like that, in general. We humans frequently, and quite naturally, act in the communal interest. Our problem now is to help people see that their community is the planet Earth, and not just their family, tribe, or even nation.

We better figure this out soon, too - global warming and the spread of easy access to terrible weapons make it imperative.

Posted by: Mark Gilbert on August 28, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm now let me think. American Automobile industry, Heavily unionized, Overpriced unaffordable cars, I can't afford to buy a new car. Walmart, no union, low prices, I can afford to shop there. Duh

Huh. What are the lower priced alternatives? Honda, Toyota, Nissan all have unionized factories in the US.

How about other retailers? Costco is unionized. Target has many relations with unions.

Gee, funny how unions have no bearing on the affordability of products!

And gosh, who can afford anything at Wal-Mart? They steal from the government to feed, clothe, and care for their sick. They fire employees for following the law, and fire employees for not donating extra labor to the company. They have a policy of ripping off their staff. They have a health plan with a deductable larger than the average monthly income of an associate.

[b]Would you think you were getting such a good value [/b](Either from Wal-Mart or the Republican Administration)[b] if you could see their hands in your pockets?[/b]

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Let's try this with proper markups:

Would you think you were getting such a good value (Either from Wal-Mart or the Republican Administration) if you could see their hands in your pockets?

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

He drove the "mom and pop" automakers out of business; they had to find new jobs,

Who? Wha?

...Wait, wasn't Ford also the guy who boasted that his employees could afford to buy a car (a luxury at the time) with their paychecks, as well as take care of their families?

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

The other thing you can buy cheaper at WalMart is Republicans.

Posted by: craigie on August 28, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm now let me think. American Automobile industry, Heavily unionized, Overpriced unaffordable cars ...

the chevy aveo starts at less than $10,000.

Posted by: spacebaby on August 28, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Can we ban this Ishmael guy, please?

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK
The column is about Wal-Mart, and Mallaby is complaining that although moderate Dems got out of the corporation-bashing business in the late 80s, they've since lost the religion. Every single moderate Dem even Joe Lieberman! is now bashing Wal-Mart. "How can supposedly centrist Democrats defend this betrayal of their principles?" he asks sadly.

Wait, accepting the apparent premise that changes of established behavior of a group of politicians per se constitute abandonment of principles, wouldn't the late 80s be where the principles were abandoned by moderate Democrats, and the current change be simply a return to principles?

Posted by: cmdicely on August 28, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

See the evils committed by filthy,zionist kikes; go to www.holywar.org

One land and one people.White,christian and pure...
No compromise ! Kill and be killed until victory !

Posted by: Nephi on August 28, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem using Wal-Mart as an example of problems that are typical of all retailers and of our country's health insurance system in general, but, honestly speaking, its policies aren't really that different from any other major retailer. The differences between its policies and those of Target, which is often held up as an example of something that Wal-Mart should aspire to be like, are miniscule. If I gave you a stat sheet with things like wages and health plan options for each company with the company name removed, I doubt you'd be able to tell which one was Wal-Mart and which one was Target.

CostCo is better than either of the two on wages/benefits, of course, but CostCo is a also a different type of animal than Target or Wal-Mart. CostCo employs fewer people per revenue dollar than either Target or Wal-Mart - that is part of the warehouse, bulk-product business model employs. It takes fewer employees to run a CostCo store than a Wal-Mart or Target. CostCo puts some of the labor savings back into the employees it does have in the form of better wages/benefits; Wal-Mart/Target hire more, but pay them less. A fair comparison of the two models will take into account not only the wages/benefits each pays, but also the fact that the CostCo pays wages/benefits to fewer people than a comparable Wal-Mart or Target.

Posted by: Smedley on August 28, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa,even I don't go that far Nephi.You just crossed the line .

Posted by: Ishmael on August 28, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ishmael shut your infidel yap,your a traitor to our Christian forefathers and the founders of our Nation.

Posted by: Nephi on August 28, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ishmael needs a good BJ!

I worked part-time at Wal-Mart for just over 5 years and I invariably followed saying "Wal-Mart" with "The greedy evil bastards" for that is just what the entire company philosophy entails. I worked in the garden center of a supercenter and, luckily, was pretty much left alone to do my job, but that was not true for most other employees. Starting pay in my area is around $6.50/hr and the employee turnover normally hovers around 68%. That never sounded terribly efficient to me, but what I never understood was the tremendous waste that occurred throughout the store. You absolutely would not believe the goods and store fixtures which were simply written off for accounting purposes and put in the trash compacter. I don't even want to go into the dearth of health benefits or, for that matter, any other benefits.

Here's an example: If I were sick one day and felt I needed to stay home and recover but go back to work the next day I could not get paid for a sick day. If I took 2 days off and came back with a doctor's excuse then I could get paid.

When discussing Wal-Mart you only to remember 3 little words: "Greedy Evil Bastards".

'nuff said.

Posted by: Fred on August 28, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Two identical companies - resources, market share, talent, innovation, everything equal, except:

One is totally ethical while the other is totally masterful at concealing the unethical (never gets caught). The advantage in the free market goes to? That's right kids, it's #2.

Our system selects for the most cleverly sleazy.

Posted by: ergonaut on August 28, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK


Here are just a few problems with Wal-Mart:
Wal-Mart fails to cover 60% of their workers with any health insurance.
70% of Wal-Mart merchandise is from China (real patriotic, Sam).
When Wal-Mart comes into a town, for every two jobs it creates three jobs are lost.
Wal-Mart costs federal taxpayers over $1.5 billion a year in welfare to their employees.
Wal-Mart tops the list of companies with employees and their dependents on public assistance in at least 11 states.
Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $4.1 million in Clean Water Act violations and $50 million to settle allegations of underpaying employees.
Wal-Marts former No. 2 executive is accused of stealing $500,000.
So, in summary, Wal-Mart sells shoddy goods made by slave labor in China that helps prop up a Communist regime, they routinely underpay employees and destroy jobs not create them and enable welfare use, and have corrupt executives who pollute the environment, but:
Aint free enterprise a wonderful thing????

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 28, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The funny thing is the the Democratic Party has by and large been to scared of being called "liberal" to go back to its roots of being the party of the working man (and woman).

There are a lot of people out there who are less than thrilled not only with their stagnant wages, but also with the way that the balance of power between corporation and consumer has shifted heavily in favor of the corporation, leading to atrocities such as what the insurance companies are trying to do to people whose lives were destroyed by Katrina, and the corruption that has turned the federal budget into a corporate piggy bank.

For many years the Democrats have been scared to death of engaging in class warfare because many of their supporters are wealthy liberals, but the truth is that its about time for the Democratic Party to reengage in some class warfare and win back the votes of the many working class people who have been voting Republican because of social issues.

Based on economic disparity alone, the Democrats should be getting the vote of everyone making less than $50,000 a year. Yet thousands of these people have been voting Republican because the Democrats have been unsuccessful in keeping the agenda focused on economic issues.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 28, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't quite understand the obsession with WalMart. Is it WalMart as such or is WalMart a metaphor? If so a metaphor for what?

Frankly, WalMart is just another big box, a highly successful big box, but a big box none the less.

Big boxes are not invincible. They can be defeated by other big boxes, or by direct mail.

I used to buy a lot of computer components at CompUSA. I found an on-line electronics retailer who has performed flawlessly, for much less. If you are truly running a wearhouse you can keep your real estate and labor costs to a minimum. Fed Ex and UPS have done wonders to rationalize shipping costs. All my business goes to that on-line retailer. My local CompUSA has gone out of business.

I have long thought that WalMart has placed too much emphasis on keeping employee costs low at the expense of keeping employees happy. Apparently they have calculated that 20 not so enthusiastic employees are better than 10 hard working employees receiving health care and other benefits. Costco has a different model, but as somebody pointed out their stores are organized more like Sam's Clubs than regular WalMarts.

Retail is hard no matter how you cut it. Eventually WalMart will come a cropper. They all do. Other wise, Sears and Roebuck would still be king.

Anyway, anytime a retail outfit is the focus of everybody's attention something is wrong. In a solid, robust economy manufacturers use retail to deliver goods. They dictate terms and margins. Not the other way around.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the big yellow dot is evil. Their size allows them to be relatively unconstained by factors that limit most individuals and the vast majority of other business organizations.

Despite a recent barrage of corporate PSAs, they care not for their workers or the greater community, only their appetite for expansion and quarterly profits.

This version of capitalism is killing America with more ruthless effeciency than Bin Laden could ever dream of.

Posted by: Keith G on August 28, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is having a hard time hitting his stride after his return.

First, he takes the Armitrage news that fizzles the entire Plame affair and declares instead there is significantly more to come.

Now, he writes a long post bashing Mullaby and then turns around and basically agrees with him in a postscript. Democrats attacking Walmart are wrong politically and, more important, wrong on the economics.

Posted by: brian on August 28, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Even Wal-Mart is finding out that its policies hurt its future prospects.

Posted by: Hostile on August 28, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Read the report by McKinsey about how Wal-Mart has created efficiencies in the retail market and get back to me.

Sometimes people are so freakin' out of their element when they discuss these matters that I am sad for how stupid they sound.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer a society that guns eachother down in the streets.

Posted by: Gallons Of Poop on August 28, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Read the report by McKinsey about how Wal-Mart has created efficiencies in the retail market and get back to me.
Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yes - Standard Oil found out that having a Monopoly was very efficient. For them.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Osama_Been_Forgotten,

What the ever loving fuck does McKinsey have to do with WalMart you dumb shit?

Fucking ignoramus!

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Furthermore, OBL,

Do you have any fucking clue whatsoever what McKinsey is?

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

And Wal-Mart could not hack it in Germany, lots of Schadenfreude. They had to abide by labor laws and failed and had to close after about 7 years.

Posted by: Renate on August 28, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just some guy you mentioned that wrote some report about WalMart and how God has sent his Angels to herald Wal Mart as His new Appointed Savior of Capitalism.

Of course, I didn't mention McKinsey. Only quoting you, and your apparentl claim that all "efficiencies" are good, and therefore, any criticism of the bringer of efficiencies is evil and communist.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

By the way Birkel - it would be even MORE efficient if we just took all the old people and ground them up into sausage meat when they hit 50, so we don't have to pay Social Security or other healthcare benefits.

Let's do that.

And let's put the children to work too. We'll be real efficient, by God!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Some guy?

Hey you fucking ignorant piece of shit. It's McKinsey and Company. It's the largest, most well respected consulting company in the world, you complete dip shit.

Get a fucking clue. Moron.

Now explain your increasingly obvious ignorance. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

What the ever loving fuck does McKinsey have to do with WalMart you dumb shit?
Fucking ignoramus!
Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Sounds like not just the Moderates are irate.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

When Republicans accuse Democrats of fomenting class war, I think the response should be "Damn straight we are!"

Posted by: modus potus on August 28, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I agree.

Let's change the subject away from your ignorance. Ass hole.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong again, Kevin. Wal-Mart has transformed the U.S. econmy from one based on small mom-n-pops that fleece poor people by overcharging for toothpaste to one in which lower everyday prices have made eveyone rich--just look at flat panel TV sales! Wal-Mart is the ultimate expression of the human potential and Sam will be treated like Jesus many years from now. All hail Wal-Mart bringer of light (bulbs), giver of life(-style magazines), and friend of children(s toys)!!!
Posted by: Al on August 28, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wal Mart to mom-n-pop: I'll trade you your economic security, your family's legacy, for a big-screen TV.

American Middle Class: Sure!

Now explain your increasingly obvious ignorance. Thanks in advance.
Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care. Is that explanation enough for you? Or do you need it tatooed on your forhead?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

this was my favorite {in the you-gotta-be-fuckin-kiddin-me sense} line in the whole piece:

"Moreover, Clinton and Kerry know perfectly well that market pressures limit the health coverage that companies can provide. After all, both senators have proposed expansions in government health provision precisely on the premise that the private sector can't pay for all of it."

WalMart is the largest private employer in this country (if not the world), well known for applying market pressure to get discounts when it wants to. If WalMart can't afford to broker decent health care insurance for its employees then it really is time to give up the ghost on employer-sponsored programs and get national healthcare.

Posted by: e1 on August 28, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

OBF,

Anybody who reads this thread knows what I already know. You're a moron who admits he doesn't care about his own ignorance. You don't know basics about economics or business.

What you know is your partisan, BDS-inspired rhetoric.

You are a wind bag. Your lack of knowledge is eclipsed only by your lack of intellectual curiosity. You are a sham. A cut. A know-nothing in the classical sense.

You're a buffoon on a stage too grand for your abilities.

I will, henceforth, never refer to you again. Idiot.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

cut --> cur

(referring only to my own misspelling)

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the thing I most detest about this administration is that it's made me feel like some far-out kook case. Good Lord, I spent the first half of my adult life as a (moderate) Republican, then jumped ship over the cultural wars.

But what's going on these days is simply insupportable.

By older standards, I would be a moderate. But given today's realities, I seem to be on the sort-of leftish fringe. What is wrong with the world, anyway? Aargh!!!

I just hope that the next election cycle brings some sanity to bear. The current situation is simply awful.

Posted by: BWR on August 28, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

"POSTSCRIPT: But I will (partly) concede one point to Mallaby: it's foolish to paint Wal-Mart or the broader business community as "evil." They aren't, any more than ordinary human beings are evil. It's just that, left to their own devices, both humans and corporations tend to act solely in their own self-interest. "

A key difference being that corporations are mostly LEGALLY REQUIRED now to act solely in their own self interest, everything else be damned. And I'd dispute that individuals tend to act solely in their own self-interest. Hell, if you're a parent odds are you put someone elses interests ahead of your own many times every day.

Posted by: chaboard on August 28, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Is this the McKinsey report you are referring to, Birkel? It doesnt sound like McKinsey found Wal-Mart created efficiencies, as you put it, as much as they put together a propaganda strategy to make the Big Yellow Dot seem not so threatening. Big difference.

An excerpt:

The McKinsey report outlines a long-term approach to "managing change." In the first three to 12 months, the company was told, it should find ways to convince the public that its wages and benefits are better than perceived, spread messages that it cares for employees, build local relationships, increase local philanthropy, and research the impact of stores on their communities. Next, the study calls on the company to create another initiative that benefits workers ("e.g. workplace education, child-care program"). Finally, the study says Wal-Mart should "take public leadership on broader societal issue."

Seems to me, that you are the one who needs to get their facts straight, Birkel!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 28, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: It's just that, left to their own devices, both humans and corporations tend to act solely in their own self-interest.

That's a feature, not a bug. It's in Walmart's self interest to provide useful goods at low prices, so their customers will choose to shop there. It's in Walmart's self interest to have wages and benefits and working conditions sufficient that qualified employees will choose to work there. The element of choice is what makes the capitalist system so good.

Note that the regulatory approach advocated by Kevin is worse than capitalism, because it's based on some regulator's ideas, not necessarily what the customer and employees want.

The real problem with Walmart is that they're non-union. The Dems are carrying water for the union bosses, who tend to be a heck of a lot less public-spirited than business leaders.

Posted by: ex-liberal on August 28, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

You don't know basics about economics or business.
Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

No, idiot - pull your head out of your ass long enough to understand this:

Based on my response - my knowledge of your hero is completely irrelevant to my argument.

Your argument is that Wal Mart is good, and doesn't deserve all the bashing going on here, because your hero says that they created retail efficiencies.

My argument is that not all efficiencies are "good". If you judge the world like a spreadsheet jockey, then I suppose you can draw that conclusion. Good for you.

To make that argument, I don't have to know who the fuck McKinsey is, I never made a claim to know it, nor do I have to read their fucking report, nor do I have to give a crap what your twisted little mind thinks.

And your insult skills are for shit. Pig fucker.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

TCD,

I'm pretty sure I'm pointing to this report. Fucking ass muncy.

Next moron to step up?

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

OK Birkel, if you are done screaming, tell us what we don't know about Wal-Mart.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, Ron. You don't know anything in the McKinsey analysis I mentioned. You haven't read it. Are we good?

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

I read item you posted a few minutes ago. Nice PR piece, but nothing more.

If you can't explain what you are trying to say, then your ideas will be never be known.

Just being angry won't impress anybody on this board, well maybe a couple of trolls, but nobody else.

Tell us what you think the McKinnsey items says. Remember I have read what you posted, and frankly it doesn't deserve the gift of the oracle treatment you have given it, or even much time.

Tell us something.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Birkel:
I know something you don't know - therefore, none of you are qualified to even talk about it. And stop making fun of my soiled underwear!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
Pay for the report, tough guy.

Here's the recap: Wal-Mart has driven retail efficiencies to 4X the level of that of the rest of the developed world which can explain the entire extent of the growth rate difference of the US vis-a-vis the rest of the developed world.

HINT: The US growth rate is higher than that of the rest of the developed world. Just so ya know.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin.

The Mallaby was so systematically ignorant of fact and insulting of logic that somebody had to address the facts. I don't agree with everything you said, but I'm glad you pointed to the absolute worthlessness of the commentary.

One thing you missed is the complete inaccuracy of his portrayal of moderate Dems (or even the left wing of the party) as reacting in a knee-jerk way to Wal-Mart. The current treasurer of the Democratic Party is Andrew Tobias, who not only owns Wal-Mart stock: He is an investment advisor who advises liberals (and others) to buy the stock.

The defense of Wal-Mart put forward by Tobias is sane and respectful of the right of others to disagree, something which puts it light-years ahead of Mallaby's rant.

Posted by: scotus on August 28, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I was sorry to read your post on Wal-Mart, Kevin. Mallaby was 100% correct, and you were close to 100% wrong. Mallaby wasn't saying that Democrats who attack Wal-Mart aren't "moderate." He was saying that they're wrong. If every single Democrat in the country was attacking Wal-Mart, they'd still be wrong. Wal-Mart's anti-unionism deserves to be attacked, but the other complaints, as Mallaby's analysis showed, are the products of economic illiteracy, plain and simple. You ought to read The Wealth of Nations, Kevin. You really ought to. You have some catching up to do.

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on August 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel:

Being such an erudite blogger, I'm sure you know that productivity is measured as total output divided by hours worked. If total hours worked fall, and output remains the same, productivity appears to go up. In other words, even if nothing is added to total societal output, but less people are working and earning wages, productivity goes up. Is that a "good" thing? I think not. Wal-Mart destroys jobs, it does not create them. In a rational world this is not a favorable outcome. In the Bizarro universe modern conservatives dwell in, apparently it is.

The Conservative Deflator

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 28, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Deflator,

You're a moron beneath my contempt. Construct an argument to support your position and I'll rip it to shreads. Until then, be sure that I won't deconstruct your hypotheticals to amuse myself.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

Why bother with the Lefty uber-trolls?

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hint: The US growth rate is higher than that of the rest of the developed world. Just so ya know. Birkel

But do we live as well as the rest of the world? Are we as happy? Are we as satisfied with our lives? Does the average person have as much hope for the future?

Hint: Market efficiency isn't a God. It is a tool -- like a hammer or a screw driver. To the extent people like you worship efficiency above all else you are an idiot.

Take your anger and retreat to the dark place that is your warped soul.

Too bad you had nothing to say. I was interested in your thoughts right up to the moment you became angry.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the one that opened in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

That was over 25,000 applicants for not nearly so many jobs.

But hey. Who are we to tell the people who want the jobs what's good for them.

Oh. That's right. You're liberals. And you're perfectly content to tell other people what's what.

Ass holes.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,
It was a rhetorical question. It is fun!

Ron Byers,
Please bring my goal posts back to the appropriate playing field when you're done with them. Thanks in advance.

P.S. You have no fucking clue what the hell you're discussing. Stop with the platitudes when you're obviously dealing with someone more educated on these PARTICULAR matters than yourself. It'll be less embarrassing. See, above, for details of what embarrassment is.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

HINT: The US growth rate is higher than that of the rest of the developed world. Just so ya know.
Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

HINT: To the Average American, that means jack squat.

GDP growth alone is not a meaningful indicator of overall benefit and good. If it were, we'd just let all the companies merge into one and let them be really really super efficient, and their marketing department can churn out all the propaganda you like so you can continue to back up your bogus arguments in blogs.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

"I also prefer a society in which middle class workers prosper when the economy grows."

Ummmm, Kevin, do only middle-class workers count? How about Walmart workers-- that is, lower-class workers? I'm assuming you just tossed in "middle-class" to make us feel it's our problem too. But poor people are Americans too... and it's scary these days how often I feel the need to remind people of that. As my dad used to say, "It ain't no crime to be poor, but it might as well be."

But in the Dems' urge to recruit the middle class, we can't forget who we are-- that we are the party that respects the dignity of all Americans, even if they aren't "middle class".

Posted by: oops on August 28, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

"But I will (partly) concede one point to Mallaby: it's foolish to paint Wal-Mart or the broader business community as "evil." They aren't, any more than ordinary human beings are evil. It's just that, left to their own devices, both humans and corporations tend to act solely in their own self-interest."
{ironic}Yeah, just like IG Farben wasn't evil. They just tried to make some profits and one of their successful products was Zyklon B.{/ironic}

Well, with all due respect, but NO, Kevin. If someone engage in unethical behaviour, being fully aware of the consequences for others, but valuing his own self interests higher than their rights or their lifes, most would describe this as 'evil'.

So, for instance, ENRON was evil, robbing the people of Claifornia of several billions by criminal means. As for WalMart, the jury is still out, but imho at least their methods in preventing unionization are evil.

Posted by: Gray on August 28, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

oops,
Yet another idiot into the fray. Thanks. Comic relief is always appreciated.

Have you considered how the 25,000 applicants viewed themselves? Of course not. You simply view them as pawns in your political game as you talk about the "poor", like you're some sort of martyr. It's a tired performance. And you're bad at it.

And did you consider the poor who benefit from a 4X more efficient retail sector? No. Of course you didn't. That is beyond your comprehension. I love the Liberal trolls when they're this foolish.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Gray takes the cake.

He's the #1 crazy!?!

But still, there's time to overwhelm his crazy. Try harder.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Gray takes the cake.

He's the #1 crazy!?!

But still, there's time to overwhelm his crazy. Try harder.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

And did you consider the poor who benefit from a 4X more efficient retail sector?

Benefit from getting paid about 1/3 of what it costs to raise a family? And you guys call yourselves the pro-family party?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 28, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel,

Unlike you I don't pretend to know anything special. I can read. I can listen. I can learn. Of course the guy on the other side has to say something worthy.

Let me tell you a story about my first effort at debate in the 7th grade. Just like you I thought I had all the answers. The other side was just dumb. I was very clever with my words. I told everybody how dumb the other side was. I showed them no respect. They won. The debate coach later told me that because I showed my opponents no respect I failed to listen to what they were actually saying. They ate my lunch.

That was 7th grade. I have been arguing professionally since for the last 34 years. I have actually lost arguments every time I personalized the debate and tried to claim moral superiority over some asshole or other who didn't know shit. They realized my weakness for smugness and took advantage. Generally I won when I listened and didn't lose my cool.

In real life claiming you are the font of all wisdom is a good way to lose your argument. That is what you did and did consistently. You will lose every argument as long as you are unwilling to treat your opponents with respect.

Wal-Mart is just another company. It does some things well, but it is not above reproach.

Companies meet the needs of people, not the other way around. I have actually had to deal with corporate types over the years. Some of them have been good people. Some have been less than trustworthy. The one thing they many had in common is they were driven by the bottom line. Many were playing a zero sum game. I win, you lose. For the most part those people are unhappy people. The Wal-Mart corporate types I have met fit that mold.

You only live about 75 years. You only have about 40 years to be productive. If you can't be happy in your job, well I feel sorry for you. Your life is wasted. I don't give a shit about how much money you make or how efficient your company is, your life is wasted. Sadly that impacts all the people around you.

Don't worship the false God of the market. The Big Screen TV will never bring you as much joy as a sunset.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel, your argument is as weak and as common as a noodle that has been boiled too long (http://www.birkel.de/dienudel/nudelstart.htm).

Well, your four times as efficient retail sector, (where do those numbers come from, btw? WalMart?), how many jobs were eliminated in achiweving this? How did this affect the wages in the sector? How do you know that the 'savings effect' outweighs the loss in wages for the low earning households?

You're very quick in calling others 'idiots'. Well, show us how smart you are, by answering thiese questions, instead of simply spreading right wing talking points. Cause, you know, even parrots may recite arguments provided by WalMart, it's not really a sign of high IQ.

Posted by: Gray on August 28, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I love the Liberal trolls when they're this foolish."

That's the difference between us, I'm not a masochist, I don't love freeper trolls. They are always foolish. You're a perfect example.

Posted by: Gray on August 28, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Gray,

GOP is a paid professional. Birkel is a true believer. I don't count him a troll just yet. If he was he would know that somebody center left doesn't troll this site.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if he isn't a troll he shouldn't behave like one.

Posted by: Gray on August 28, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, Walmart is sucessful for three reasons. First, the company has an extremely efficient supply-chain, which cuts down lots of their overhead costs. This is laudable. Second, Walmart currently exploits the hell out of its employees. This is reprehensible. Third, Walmart negotiates extremely, *extremely* hard for low prices from its suppliers. This is problematic given the company's sheer size and influemce in the retail market.

Posted by: heckblazer on August 28, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's in Walmart's self interest to have wages and benefits and working conditions sufficient that qualified employees will choose to work there.

...But that's not true. They use mostly a mostly untrained workforce, and they choose communities to service based upon having no competition - in retailers and in jobs.

There's a reason WalMart doesn't particularly do well in urban, high growth areas.

Posted by: Crissa on August 28, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Fourth, WalMart as the biggest employer in the US, with a sales volume dwarving the budget of many nations, has incredible political influence, especially on the state level. So they are able to bend the lawmaking process in their favor, and this is a very critical issue.

Posted by: Gray on August 28, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
If you know something about something you shouldn't deign to be a know nothing. And there you have it.
The false god of the market? Golly, it sounds so biblical. I guess it's a good thing I'm an atheist. Take that bull shit and shove it right back into your ass. Thanks in advance.

Gray,
Thank you for demonstrating your lack of understanding of the issue at hand. It makes me more efficient. Kudos.

And I'm more than happy you raunchy ass holes are willing to call the 25,000 applicants to a Chicago-area Wal-Mart them how foolish they all are. It's simply stupefying. I am in awe.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

whoops, corrected below--
And I'm more than happy you raunchy ass holes are willing to call the 25,000 applicants to a Chicago-area Wal-Mart how foolish they all are. It's simply stupefying. I am in awe.

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

call --> tell

Damn it!

Posted by: Birkel on August 28, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel, your correction (like your viewpoint) is incorrect.

Posted by: vbrans on August 28, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

I guess you already knew that too.Right? Asshole.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans,

You'll kindly dispute the McKinsey article I linked above. Thanks in advance. Douche bag.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

GOP,

It's the lack of tin foil.
Fewer people would apply if they had the appropriate head gear.
Don'tchaknow?

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Good evening, everyone. This session of posting reminds me of something my dad taught me a loooong time ago.

"He who loses his cool, loses."

Dear old dad. Proven right again.

Posted by: jcricket on August 29, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel If you know something about something you shouldn't deign to be a know nothing. And there you have it.

Other than your unsubstantiated self-congratulatory profession that you are the all knowing font concerning all things Wal-Mart,I have seen nothing in any of your posts that even suggests you know anything about Wal-Mart. And there you have it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

AND THE WINNER IS (drumrolllllllll)


The tag-team of Ron Byers, Osama Been Forgotten, and Gray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wooo Hoooo!

...and yes, someone did die and make me god.

Posted by: jcricket on August 29, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,
I can understand how someone who does not follow links could think thusly.
Don't be too hard on yourself for being a purposeful dumb ass.
It fits you well.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

jcricket,

Tell your dad thanks for the advice and the blow job.
Both were appreciated from a guy who can't follow links.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, you asshole. I live in Tilden,Illinois.Wal-Mart moved in promising tax revenue.When the tax break was over they left town.Now the big building left is efficient at being an eyesore and nothing else.Now this place is a literal ghost-town.Fuck you in advance.Fuckhole

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry Birkel, dad can't give a blowjob to a pussy.

Posted by: jcricket on August 29, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, you asshole. I live in Tilden,Illinois.Wal-Mart moved in promising tax revenue.When the tax break was over they left town.Now the big building left is efficient at being an eyesore and nothing else.Now this place is a literal ghost-town.Fuck you in advance.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans,
Whaaaahhh! I give a teeny tiny fuck about your sob story.

jcricket,
Get my come out of your dad's eye. It's embarassing.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans - you might even say that Walmart did the ol' Cut And Run maneuver!!

Posted by: jcricket on August 29, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

What's that?
Oh! That's just the sound of you ass holes moving the goal posts.

Be quick! Nobody will notice.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes to all three, I think. Europeans, for example, seem to be far more wrapped up in their own lives, and to have far less hope for the future, given their low fertility rates.
Posted by: GOP

you're an ignorant jackass ... the best predictors of fertility are race and education level. The discrepancy between American and European fertility rates can be summarily explained by either 1) more Hispanics in America, or 2) higher average European education.

With dumbfucks like GOP posting unsubstantiated, nationalistic, casually racist bullshit on a regular basis, I can see an argument for the latter.

www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/97facts/edu2birt.htm

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

I did the ol' spoog and run on jcricket's dad.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, nice response.When proven wrong insult.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Nads,

I can see how you saying Latinos are the sole cause of higher pregnancy rates was GOP's racism.

Have you checked your irony gauge? I think it might be broken.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans,
I'm waiting for a refutation of the paper written by McKinsey.
'Til then it's insults all around.

Good luck with that. Sperm jockey.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck McKinsey.He also thinks that corporations should have more control in decision making than the state.This is called fascism you stupid brownshirt bootlicker.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

McKinsey is an international corporation, fuckstick.
Use of the article 'he' makes no sense in this context.
Please lick my balls clean of your spittle.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for a refutation of the paper written by McKinsey.
'Til then it's insults all around.
Birkel

And that my foolish friend is exactly why you have lost this debate. If you want to argue McKinsey tell us what it says and why it is so damn important. Until then you are just wasting your time.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Is this international corporation not named after an individual?You an the rest of the technocratic manipulators will have your day.To quote RATM "Hungry people don't stay hungry for long.They get hope from fire and smoke as they reach for the dawn".

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

I can see how you saying Latinos are the sole cause of higher pregnancy rates was GOP's racism.
Have you checked your irony gauge? I think it might be broken.
Posted by: Birkel

GOP's racism is inherant to his name, asshole ... and I fail to see how the quotation of actual epidemiological data constitutes racism on my part:

"Women with college degrees can be expected to complete their childbearing with 1.6-2.0 children each; 1.7 for non-Hispanic white, 1.6 for non-Hispanic black, and 2.0 for Hispanic women. For women with less education the total expected number of children are: 3.2 children for those with 0-8 years of education; 2.3 children for those with 9-11 years of education and 2.7 for high school graduates."

Birth and Fertility Rates by Educational Attainment: United States, 1994,"
T. J. Mathews and Stephanie J. Ventura


... but conservatives in general are insecure regarding race relations, so I can see how you'd feel that any mention of race is racism.

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans,
I'm sure nobody has ever been names "McKinsey and Company" by their parents. So, yes, the corporation was not named for an individual. Pedantic bitch.

Ron Byers,
If I waited for those in the "reality-based community" to refute scientifically based papers I'd never get anything done.

Fuck you right in the ear.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

No it can't. Even college-educated white Americans have significantly higher fertility than their European counterparts. You don't know what you're talking about.
Posted by: GOP

care to quote some stats to back that up, cumstain? and any substantiation to your asinine assertion that any difference in fertility rates reflects differences in the mothers' degree of self-involvement or their "hope for the future"?

ignorant republican fuckwads ...

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Nads,
I can see why you'd get bent out of shape.
After all, it was your party who put Joe Lieberman in blackface.
It was your party who equated Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice with Aunt Jemima.
It was your party who claimed conservative Justice of the US Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was a hypersexual black man.

All that was your party.

GOP simply noted trans-continental differences in birth rates.

I can see who has race on the brain.

My bad, you racist, Leftist ass hole.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Marshmallows anyone?

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, http://www.mckinsey.com/aboutus/wherewestarted/.Hopefully you will now shut your dirty little Fuckmouth(After you remove my cock that is).

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

If I waited for those in the "reality-based community" to refute scientifically based papers I'd never get anything done.
Posted by: Birkel

are you still talking about that mckinsey report? I'm curious why you consider that report to be scientifically based?

given the right's general scientific illiteracy, and their demonstrated refusal to accept the inconvenient results of actual science publications in preference to their varied superstitions, I can see how you'd be confused.

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

I often quote Rage Against the Machine in political arguments, vbrans. You?

And now you're saying McKinsey is a one person operation?

Did the short bus not come to get you this morning?

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, nads!

What a great refutation!

Good job.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

I see ... so the rightwing's wholehearted embrace of the southern strategy of returning black voters to 1950s status is acceptable, but my mention of higher Hispanic fertility rates is racist.

... and the inability to find any actual racism on my post results in a posting of various offences perpetrated by "liberals"?

you're pathetically stupid even for a conservative. try not to reproduce ... I think you might be missing a chromosome, or something vital, which I'd hate to see passed on to a future unsuspecting offspring.

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

I am saying it is a corporation founded on one persons(McKinsey's) philosophy.Get it now you stupid shitwhore??The short-bus is still in your gaping bumhole fuckface.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, These people you worship are not your freind.You are there little slave.They use you and then laugh at you.You will realize this several decades from now when you are dumpster diving with your grandchildren.You dirty pissflap you.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

vbrans,
No. You see, I have a job. I am THE MAN. Scary, eh?

Nads,
Southern Strategy?
How long will that excuse the Aunt Jemima and blackface representations? What's the ratio/time frame for racism on the Left.
I'd like to know in advance of the next racist thing you say.

Posted by: Birkel on August 29, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

Wow a job.How do you do it all and still suck all that cock?Amazing!!!Oh and scary??not in the least.By the by have you removed the short-bus yet??

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

It is likely that birkel's day job also involves sucking cock.

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel says "I love my sweatshop dictator AND his meatpole"

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Southern Strategy?
How long will that excuse the Aunt Jemima and blackface representations? What's the ratio/time frame for racism on the Left.
Posted by: Birkel

puh-lease, cumstain ... the right has a lock on the kkk, white supremacist, freeper, militiaman vote. ... hell, w's election strategy counted on it.

have fun googling random examples of leftist racism ... it'll keep you off the streets and away from children. the rightwing exudes racism with every action; have fun trying to hold onto your non-white constituents.

Posted by: Nads on August 29, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

OOhh he's down and stays down.Right into the turnbuckle.Ouch,That one's gotta hurt Gene!

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel must have left for his job at the Daily Troll.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel must have left for his job at the Daily Troll.Thanks for playing.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Oops.

Posted by: vbrans on August 29, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

August 2004 (PRWatch)
The consulting firm McKinsey & Company told Wal-Mart, "The public believes [Wal-Mart] treats its employees poorly and is a negative force in communities." The report suggests steps for "managing change," including to "spread messages that it cares for employees, build local relationships, increase local philanthropy." McKinsey also helped prepare a memo, leaked to the New York Times last week, that proposed "numerous ways to hold down spending on health care and other benefits," in part by "discouraging unhealthy people from working at Wal-Mart."
(The memo, written by Wal-Mart's executive vice-president for benefits in conjunction
with the management consultants McKinsey, also showed the true purpose of rearranging the company's health plan was to cut costs further.)
- The Independent UK

January 2005 (CBS Marketwatch)
Beset by charges of sex discrimination and regressive labor practices, Wal-Mart's has launched a public relations offensive -- but the comprehensive effort is unlikely to sway any of the retail behemoth's detractors.
In fact, Wal-Mart's newspaper ad campaign and media push by senior executives, which broke Thursday, could serve only to focus still more attention on the company -- and the issues of pay and benefits that have already drawn criticism.
Under the tag line "Wal-Mart is working for everyone," CEO Lee Scott claimed that the company's 1.2 million workers are paid a fair wage, have access to low-cost health benefits and are given plenty of opportunities for internal promotion. The ad ran in local and national newspapers including the Seattle Times and Gannett's USA Today. It was followed by Scott and CFO Thomas Schoewe making the media rounds. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company also set up a Web site -- walmartfacts.com -- to counter what it termed "misinformation."
It was an atypical move for the generally publicity-shy retailer, and it offers potential rewards while being fraught with risk.
"Usually, companies let their trade associations speak for them on issues of labor or regulation," noted Clarke Caywood, a professor of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University. "Direct response is a little more unusual."
The ad is "not just an attack back," he continued, and it is clearly aimed at a narrow segment of the population rather than everyday shoppers.
"Most people don't read newspapers for this sort of thing," Caywood said. "This is clearly designed to reach opinion leaders."
Some of them were less than impressed. Many labor unions and community groups consider loathsome the company's record on everything from the right to organize to an insistence on lower prices that, they say, drives suppliers to move jobs overseas.
"They are launching this multimillion-dollar campaign because they are worried that American consumers are going to find out the truth: that they lower standards for all workers by pushing down wages and making health care unaffordable," said Gabrielle Coppola, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO in Washington.
"They'd rather spend millions of dollars trying to cover up their practices than actually trying to change them," she added.

November 2005 (Financial Times)
Wal-Mart "unveiled a new weapon ... the most comprehensive study to date on the retailer's impact on the U.S. economy." The study, paid for by Wal-Mart and conducted by Global Insight, concluded the retailer saved the average American $2,329 and created 210,000 jobs in 2004. It also tied a 2.2 percent wage decrease to Wal-Mart, but claimed the "nominal" fall was offset by lower prices. The study didn't address employee benefits or working conditions.

December 2005 (SourceWatch)
Working Families for WalMart created and "partially" funded by WalMart. The Washington, D. C. public relations firm, Herald Group, LLC, directs the group's campaign.
According to the organization's official website, "Working Families for Wal-Mart is committed to fostering open and honest dialogue with elected officials, opinion makers and community leaders that conveys the positive contributions of Wal-Mart to working families.

July 2006 (Dow Jones)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s (WMT) growing public-relations machine has been sending a few mixed signals lately.

Earlier this month, Arizona's attorney general sued Wal-Mart for consumer fraud, accusing the world's largest retailer of consistently overcharging customers and failing to post prices on its shelves. Immediately after the lawsuit was filed July 6, Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley sounded a conciliatory note, saying the company was "committed to working with the attorney general to resolve this issue."

Last week, however, a Wal-Mart-funded group called "Working Families for Wal-Mart" took a distinctly different tone on its Web site, paidcritics.com.

In a blog entry, the group called Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard a "career politician and twice-failed candidate for governor," and quoted an editorial in a Phoenix-area newspaper that warned Goddard "better have his facts straight."

Looking to defend itself against union-backed critics that have attacked its labor practices, Wal-Mart is beefing up its public-relations efforts. The Bentonville, Ark., retailer isn't just hiring more corporate spokespeople. In addition to building a lobbying team in Washington, Wal-Mart over the past year has assembled a "war room" staffed with political campaign veterans. This week, the company hired a former nun who has helped mediate conflicts in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wal-Mart has strong incentives to boost its media savvy. A 2004 study for Wal-Mart by McKinsey & Co. found that as much as 8% of Wal-Mart customers no longer shopped there because of "negative press they have heard." But for all of its growing sophistication, Wal-Mart has made a few awkward stumbles in its recent communications, and some feel they've been getting conflicting messages from the different arms of Wal-Mart's growing apparatus.

"I did find it surprising," Arizona Attorney General Goddard told Dow Jones Newswires, having learned of the blog posting last week. Occasionally in the past, Goddard said he has been hit with candid barbs from criminal defendants amid the genteel protests of their attorneys. But Goddard said he's never seen such a mixed public message from a corporate defendant.

Wal-Mart's multi-pronged strategy for public relations increasingly is beginning to resemble past efforts by other notably embattled corporations, said Adam Hanft, chief executive of Hanft Unlimited, a New York branding and marketing agency. Before many big oil companies "flipped and embraced that global warming was a threat," they had funded plenty of third-party "research" to the contrary. In addition to formidable lobbying efforts in Washington, Big Tobacco funded "free speech" organizations as it fought legal curbs on its advertising.

"All of these companies have tried to insulate themselves from criticism by creating third-party entities that have the appearance of independence," Hanft said. "But they're so transparent they come off as desperate. Anything that a proxy group is saying, you should be saying yourself."

August 2006 (MSNBC)
WalMart sent 18,000 "voter education" letters to its employees in Iowa, pointing out what it said were factual errors made by politicians who had attacked the company. The group is to despatch similar letters to its staff in other states.

But Wal-Mart's embrace of some of the darker arts of US politics it has set up a campaign-style "war room" at its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters also attests to the success its critics have had in turning the "big-box" retailer into a political issue at local, state and, increasingly, national level.

Posted by: I am a simp who has lashed all my hopes to a study paid for by WalMart as part of a comprehensive P on August 29, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Drum - you truncated my handle. I would like to be know as:

A simp who has lashed all my hopes (and most of my dreams) to a study paid for by WalMart as part of a comprehensive PR campaign.

Should you want to discuss WalMart (that is afterall what I get paid to do) I can be contacted at: birkel@inmomsbasement.org

Posted by: simp on August 29, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

That my friends was a classic thread.
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oracle treatment meatpole

So is Birkel the RedStater who now flacks for WalMart or is he/she a consultant who worked on the Global Insight report he/she referenced?

For a fun story about WalMart and bloggers check out the NYTimes March 7, 2006 article - "Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in P.R. Campaign"
The article mentions that WalMart's PR firm (Edelman) emailed sympathetic bloggers the nugget about recieving 25,000 job applications for the store in Illinois that Birkel cited as well as other talking points.
"At Edelman, Mr. Manson, who sends many of the e-mail messages to bloggers, works closely on the Wal-Mart account with Mike Krempasky, a co-founder of RedState.org, a conservative blog."

Posted by: paid troll, Krempansky or irate consultant on August 29, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

paid troll:

I know there were so many juicy nuggets to choose from, but IMHO you forgot the line of the thread:

OBF: Oh, and your insult skills are for shit. Pig fucker.

I fuckin' busted a gut at that :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 29, 2006 at 6:20 AM | PERMALINK

"And I'm more than happy you raunchy ass holes are willing to call the 25,000 applicants to a Chicago-area Wal-Mart them how foolish they all are."

Well, sry that I couldn't stay in the 'discussion'. But I see that I didn't miss anything. No serious answers from the noodle, just four letter words. And I think any well meaning liberal who doesn't think Bitkel is a troll is seriously misguided.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 6:30 AM | PERMALINK

"So is Birkel the RedStater who now flacks for WalMart or is he/she a consultant who worked on the Global Insight report he/she referenced?"

If he is, he's doing a lousy job. His swearing and insulting plus suspicious denial of participating in a real discussion won't convince any lurker here that he is the good guy, fighting for the good cause. I don't think this is what WalMart has in mind in hiring blogging agents to influence the public.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Kevin, you really should implement a comment filter. This would get rid of the spam and the four letter words. I don't think this swearing and insulting, predominently by the right wing trolls, is what you and your readers want to see here in the comments, right?

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

Gray:

Though I'd support registration in order to ban a few incorrigibles and make it harder for spambots to leave their crap here -- I'd have to disagree with you about a filter, Gray.

I love colorful language. While ad hominem attack is most often unproductive -- sometimes it's just unavoidable. This place wouldn't be the same if we couldn't curse a blue streak at some new outrage by the government or a politico.

Besides which, language filters are hugely context-insensitive. You wouldn't be able to say things like cocky or Dick Cheney :)

And after awhile, everybody just character-censors their cusswords (f*ck, sh|t) and carries on as before.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 29, 2006 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

"I love colorful language."

Bob, pls don't misunderestimate me, I'm very much against turning the comments into an example of dry academic discourse. And I totally understand if an otherwise reasonable commenter has to let off steam from time to time, I'm guilty of that sin myself. But something should be done against jerks who can't post anything without namecalling someone. This is annoyingly interrupting the discussions about serious topics and those trolls don't add anything of value here. Imho this blog shouldn't tolerate such low level of conversation and not become something like 'protein wisdom' or the like.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

But I see your point regarding the filters. Sure, I've witnessed that myself, the people quickly learn to work around them, this won't help much in the long run. And, not so long ago, I witnessed the negative consequences of moderation myself. I was blocked at a liberal blog for somewhat insensibly commenting a picture of Dan Gerstein. I wrote he looks an grins like he's mentally handicapped and that violated the moderator's ideas about political correctness. Idiotically, the story triggering the comments called Gerstein a dickhead and worse things, but of course nobody cares about the feelings of the real dickheads. :D

However, I thig there should be some rules on commenting, and those rules should be transparent for all. And someone who continuously insults others should be excluded from the discussion. We really don't need nor want those trolls here.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt Birkel's paid by WalMart or it's media consultant. If he is, WalMart has lost.

He is just angry.

Too bad we could have actually had a debate about WalMart.

Personally I still shop there, but often go elsewhere as I encounter ever declining quality and non-existant variety.

As the company increasingly moves out of dry goods and into groceries it faces all of the problems associated with that industry--an industry that already has the lowest of margins. Maybe they will do well, but I wonder. A company can lose its shirt hiring low wage meat cutters.

By the way, assuming there were actually 25,000 applicants for the new Chicago WalMart (that is not what we have experienced here in Missouri, by the way, but we have achieved WalMart saturation)that only proves there are a lot of unemployed people in Chicago looking for low skill work. it is not necessarily an endorsement of WalMart as an employer.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

"He is just angry."

Sometimes I get angry, too, for instance when confronted with cheap right wing talking points instead of real arguments. Anger can be contained, it doesn't have to lead to a continuos flow of insulting and swearing. I suspect that people who can't control their behaviour in a comment thread tend to become outright aggressive in a face to face discussion...

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that people who can't control their behaviour in a comment thread tend to become outright aggressive in a face to face discussion...
Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 8:30 AM |

Maybe, but I doubt it. It is much easier to become and stay angry in a comment thread than in person. Human communication is far more than the written word. No way to pick up on visual facial clues. Way too easy to misread somebody's poorly written post as a direct insult.

We are all still learning how to post. After a while most of us wise up and stick to the argument at hand. Birkel seemed new to the medium.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2006 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

"By the way, assuming there were actually 25,000 applicants for the new Chicago WalMart (that is not what we have experienced here in Missouri, by the way, but we have achieved WalMart saturation)that only proves there are a lot of unemployed people in Chicago looking for low skill work. it is not necessarily an endorsement of WalMart as an employer."

Exactly. And it shouldn't be forgotten that Chicago is the the third-most populous city in the United States with nearly 2.9 million people. Of course there are a lot more applications there than in a rural area. Hey, afaik the job situation in Detroit is even worse. I wonder how many workers applied there for WalMart. It's still slightly better than having no job at all.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Birkel seemed new to the medium."

I respectfully disagree. He sounds exactly like the right wing bullies at protein wisdom. The argument he made about 'moving goalposts' is quite popular there, and frequently used when the rethugs realize they are about to lose the discussion.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

And the sexually based insults ('get my cum out of your dad's eye', really) are exactly what is regarded as normal conversation among Goldstein and his angry ranters. There are some serious people there, too, but they are a minority among the perverts.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel was never in the discussion.

His refusal to post any meanful argument doomed his effort, unless his goal was to suppress meaningful discussion of the topic. If you read the entire thread, you have to conclude that ultimately he failed at that as well. Lots of valid thoughts for and against Wal-Mart were expressed in between insults, it just took 160 posts to handle a 60 post discussion.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

"it just took 160 posts to handle a 60 post discussion."

Hehehe! Good summary, Ron!

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

OK, so when people need their next wicket or gadget, will they pay more to buy it from "Mom n Pop," who don't give their clerks health insurance either? Or is the Kmart or Target business model somehow different from Walmart's? What kind of EOE or OSHA do family-owned businesses follow? Why does Walmart get so many job applicants? Conditions in other retail jobs must be worse.

Posted by: jkoch on August 29, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Whatr is evil, if not the pursuit of your own self interests with depraved indifference to the interests, health and well being of others?
Wal-Mart is Evil. Not the worst evil in the world, but certainly evil none the less.

Posted by: SoulLite on August 29, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Whatr is evil, if not the pursuit of your own self interests with depraved indifference to the interests, health and well being of others?" Yup, that's the most common appearance of evil, thx for the clear definition, SoulLite. Of course, there's also the pure form of evil, the bullyish pleasure to hurt others, but its more prevalent in Hollywood movies than in reality imho.

I must say that I'm really a bit upset about the casual manner in which Kevin shrugs off the idea of evil businesses as simply a misperception of the normal self interest in economy. This smells like a lack of ethics and I'm sure Adam Smith wouldn't have endosed this view. No surprise that the right wingers are so successful in pilloring liberals as spineless creatures without values, when some liberals are so inept in standing up for their own values. It's a shame.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

mhr, your attempt at depicting all left wingers as followers of Marx is ridiculous and won't convince anyone here. 'nuff said.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

More remarkable than all the sophomoric, scatological posts in this discussion, is the fact that no one has pointed out the ways in which both Kevin and Mallaby are both right.

Kevin is right that there's something really wrong with a major corporation earning so many billions while refusing to offer a living wage to hundreds of thousands of workers. But Mallaby's right that protesting Wal-Mart is a stupid strategy (though not for the reasons he lists).

We're never going to create an economy that offers family-supporting wages to those on the bottom of the job ladder by waging a public relations battle with corporations. Regardless where you stand in the evil vs. not evil discussion, who thinks that employers are gonna start volunteering to pay workers a lot more than they have to any time soon? Not me.

So what's the solution? I think it begins with Kevin's comments that "we need laws and regulations to control corporate behavior" in order to create an economy where "middle class workers prosper when the economy grows." (I'd certainly want to add lower-income workers, too.)

That's where Mallaby is right. To watch all the Democrats spit into that wind at Wal-Mart, but not concentrate on developing and fighting for policies that improve the lot of working class families... it's horribly disappointing. Rather than solve problems, they're scapegoating.

What policies are available to improve the lot of working families, you ask? Well lots of them. Minimum wage is an obvious step. But equally important are: creating a more favorable environment for unions, expanding job training and financial aid, and passing legislation to ensure that all workers receive a minimum level of paid vacation and sick leave. In the meantime, we can improve the lot of less affluent families by boosting tax subsidies to help low-income families buy homes and save for retirement; cracking down on predatory lenders, and expanding child care subsidies.

All of these options (and others) should be the subject of spirited debate today. Sadly, they're not. Democrats are wasting their time (or covering their asses) by screaming at a corporation, while Republicans (and Mallaby)are busy worshipping at the altar of Adam Smith.

Hope some of this will add some light on this dark and dreary and discouraging debate.

Posted by: ramendel on August 29, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Yep. There he is right under David Brooks on my 'ignore this loonie' list: Sebastian Mallaby.

He's an idiot.

'Gack!' - Bill the Cat

Posted by: CFShep on August 29, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

"There he is right under David Brooks on my 'ignore this loonie' list: Sebastian Mallaby."

Exactly. Well, its slightly irritating that Mallaby sometimes writes something that does sound right, unlike Brooks, who is wrong all of the time. But looking for the gems in his heap of BS is really a waste of time, better read Brad DeLong instead, he'll tell us if clueless Sebastian found something by chance.

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

This comment thread is so long, I'm not sure its worth adding to:

Here's the thing. Wal-Mart isn't just bad to its employers (and it is but so are a lot of people). It's bad for its suppliers.

The Wal Mart system runs like a very efficient cartel. Bulling suppliers into cost concessions and product selection concessions. The cost aspect sends jobs oversees. The product selection concessions, means that what is available to the consumer at EVERY STORE is a byproduct of the buying of Wal Mart.

Antitrustwise, it's acting like a monopoly. In fact, it is a monopoly. And that's bad for consumer choice. And bad for wages. And bad for the country. This is not just a liberal idea. This is the very foundation of U.S. capitalism: monopolies must be stopped.

Wal Mart (and Sam's Club) also have the financial ability to make sure they always have the lowest prices. If, say, your local Kroger starts offering something at a discount below what Wal Mart wants to offer: they can and will approach the store and buy the entire product selection. Thereby assuring they have the lowest prices in town. This works especially well in smaller towns. And they've been doing just that for 20 years.

Posted by: DC1974 on August 29, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Birkel, you dumb cocksucker. You're obviously a representation of the Republican /conservative movement. Rush in, guns blazing, bullying everyone with no fucking facts. Keep throwing around that bullshit McKinsey report, prick. He's got nothin' else but that. "Multinational", "4x"...what a loud mouthed fucking assfuck you are. Same old tired Republican tactics. And like true liberals, you all just let this fuckhead walk all over you! Pal, if I ever run into you, you'll be drinking out of a straw and talking with a chalkboard, ass stain.

Posted by: robg on August 29, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"And like true liberals, you all just let this fuckhead walk all over you! Pal, if I ever run into you, you'll be drinking out of a straw and talking with a chalkboard, ass stain."

We treated him with snark and ridicule. That's the liberal way. After all, the last thing we want is becoming like THEM, right?

Posted by: Gray on August 29, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

What is the deal with Birkel?

He was always a sophomoric asshole, but this Tourette's-stricken-dingo-on-crack business is new, isn't it?

I suspect a doppelganger. I suspect...(crack of gunshot; infielder falls just as she's about to reveal the perp's name).

Posted by: shortstop on August 29, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Pale Rider.

:)

Bob

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Posted by: dsfsd on August 30, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Probably been said above, but humans and corporations are not the same. People do look at for their self interests (they would be fools not to) but humans have a conscience and act upon it. People are not shooting each other in the street largely because of their consciences tell them not to. Laws help but if people really were inclined to hurt others, the law wouldn't stop them and violence would be much higher then it is (just look at the effectiveness of Prohibition and the drug laws)

Now corporations are entirely different. They have no conscience and are totally amoral. In a human this is called being a sociopath, and corporations act like sociopaths. Without the constraints of laws corporations would not be restrained from even the most heinous of actions (i.e., like leaving poisons and infections in food since this makes food preparation less expensive).

Too many folks have this idea that people only act morally because they are forced to. For some that is true, but for the vast majority that is not true. If the majority was amoral the law would not be able to protect us (for one, amoral people would not have laws protecting others).

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