The Real Reasons to Hate Wal-Mart

A lot of my favorite libertarian writers spend a lot of time defending Wal-Mart, and rightfully so for the grounds they have chosen. Here are a few examples. From Radley Balko:

Yet more states are passing bills aimed specifically at requiring Wal-Mart to pay for its workers’ health care. Unbelievable. I don’t see how such Wal-Mart-specific legislation can pass constitutional muster. But then, I find it appalling that lawmakers in an allegedly quasi-free market society would tell a private company that it is required by law to give its employees free stuff.

Wal-Mart’s losing on another front, too. More states are requiring the store to cary the morning-after pill on its shelves.

Let me repeat.

State governments are requiring a private business to put a certain product on its shelves.

What next? Why not force Wal-Mart to sell certain books? Why not ban it from selling others? In fact, why don’t these states just set up a regulatory agency to take over the day-to-day operations of Wal-Mart stores inside their borders?

Balko is certainly correct in this case, as he is here, too:

It sure is thoughtful of lefty activists to work so hard to keep Wal-Mart out of urban areas. We can’t have this corporate behemoth exploiting low-income folks with jobs that wouldn’t otherwise exist, and by selling them good stuff at low prices.

The horror.

Better people who are well-employed decide for the urban poor that they don’t need those jobs. And that they should be shopping at more tasteful stores, anyway.

I think that maybe — just maybe — anti-Wal Mart sentiment has more to do with an aversion to the white, rural ethnology the store sometimes represents than its labor practices. We can’t have our Ethiopian restuarants and esoteric bookstores blighted by NASCAR culture.

Sabine Barnhart correctly wrote:

The hate campaign against Wal-Mart reflects the late Weimar Republic Nazi oratory when Hitler’s election slogans were directed against free economy in general and certain prosperous businesses — many of them Jewish owned — in particular. They were deemed “Non-German in their zeal for profit.” Never mind that their reason for being profitable was in their success in catering to the German citizens themselves. Hitler’s dubious grasp, his promises of greater Germany despite the NSDAP’s destructive economic planning do seem to resonate once again.

Laurence Vance provided some good arguments to hate Wal-Mart today:

Good reason #1: Crowds

Good reason #2: Parking

Good reason #3: Carts

Good reason #4: Lines

Good reason #5: Cashiers

Good reason #6: Inventory

Good reason #7: Selection

Good reason #8: Self-checkout registers

Good reason #9: Prices

Good reason #10: Getting Help

If you still prefer the “bad” reasons for not shopping at Wal-Mart then by all means don’t shop at Wal-Mart. Just quit citing your bogus reasons as if they were facts.

He’s correct, up to this point. Then he blows it.

Wal-Mart has never caused any firm to go out of business. Wal-Mart can’t close down any store but one of its own. It is the customers who no longer do business with a company or shop at a particular store who put that company out of business or closed that store.

Despite all of these valid arguments in favor of Wal-Mart’s right to compete in a free market system, the arguments provided start to lose their validity when statements like this are made:

Contrary to popular thinking, Wal-Mart does not drive other retailers out of business: customers do by choosing to patronize a store that does a better job of supplying their wants than do their established competitors.

I can’t speak for the entire country (although I hear of similar cases in other states), but in my state of Alabama, Wal-Mart is the beneficiary of eminent domain and political pay-offs — and they use these tools to gain an edge in the marketplace.

I’d like to quickly describe three Wal-Marts in my community. The first one was in Alabaster. They used eminent domain (and the coercive threat thereof) to kick dozens of people from their homes. From Neal Boortz:

Alabaster City Councilman Tommy Ryals thinks that these property owners are just being greedy. “Sometimes,” he says, ” the good of the many has to outweigh the greed of the few.” Indeed, Councilman Ryals, how dare these private-property owners refuse to sell their private property when the new owner could generate so many tax dollars for the good of the many! Don’t these people realize that the rights of one individual to his property are nothing when the need of the collective is considered?

Vance and Shaffer insist that Wal-Mart does not drive other retailers out of business. However, the planned Wal-Mart in Birmingham’s Crestwood area will be sharing parking lot space with the last remaining K-Mart in town. Here is the kicker. The city plans to give Wal-Mart $11 million taxpayer funded cash dollars to compete with the K-Mart. What sort of principled libertarian could support this sort of deal or not see how it may well drive the K-Mart of out business?

If eminent domain and pay-offs aren’t enough, what happens when the two are combined in the same deal? Just ask the 30 or so business owners who were shut down after Wal-Mart set its eyes on a new location in the Roebuck section of Birmingham. Only one of them actually fought the deal, but he had the cajones to explain why the others didn’t:

Chris Curran, owner of Spuds Pub, told the newspaper that the city has put a gun to owners’ heads. “Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart is signing under duress,” Curran said. “That means: Here’s our contract, sign it and if you don’t sign it, we’ll take it. … They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don’t mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy.”

Additionally, Wal-Mart got a $10 million dollar tax abatement in that deal. I’m all for tax abatements, but only if all businesses get their fair share. In this case, like many others, Wal-Mart was the only beneficiary.

Libertarians are opposed to the abuse of government force and the threat thereof. The consistent misuse of eminent domain and tax dollars to give one business an advantage over others clearly qualifies as such force.

Since the Iraq War started, it is rare that one would find me disagreeing with Radley Balko and writers at the von Mises Institute and LewRockwell.com while agreeing with Neal Boortz. I’d suggest that libertarian writers check their facts a bit more before making such knee-jerk defenses of Wal-Mart.

UPDATE: The debate is hot and heavy here and here, too.

UPDATE 2: I just spoke with my assistant, and she reports that by a vote of 8-0 (of nine members), the Birmingham City Council just passed the latest $11 million dollar deal for Wal-Mart. The only member who was opposed was sick today. He was given three minutes by speaker phone to address the council, but was not allowed to vote against awarding the contract. This should be a very proud day for all of the Wal-Mart supporting libertarians out there.

90 Comments
  1. I can’t speak for the entire country (although I hear of similar cases in other states), but in my state of Alabama, Wal-Mart is the beneficiary of eminent domain and political pay-offs — and they use these tools to gain an edge in the marketplace.

    I’m glad that in the libertarian rush to defend and applaud Wal-Mart, someone remembered to mention this.

  2. I am not so sure those arguments are all that invalid. All of those eminent domain abuses along with pay-offs and tax abatements would be useless to them if nobody shopped there. If the consumer didn’t want them to be there, they wouldn’t be. Plain and simple.

    I agree, they make unethical decisions. However, it is the consumer that still holds the power – as they should in a free market.

  3. Wal-Mart has encouraged those city officials, though… they’re a corruptive influence.

    If there was literally any other reasonable way to get stuff here in Chadron that didn’t involve them, I’d do it. But the Walton family’s the only game in town.

  4. Mike Nelson: Knowingly receiving stolen property.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if bribery weren’t involved in the process, either.

    What’s a major excuse for taking land for Wal-Mart? Tax revenue? And that revenue will go to pay the salaries of those approving the eminent domain, I bet. All that money will go in government coffers. So, it’s tantamount to stealing people’s land, selling it to Wal-Mart, and profiting in perpetuity from that theft (the tax payments will never end.)

    Wal-Mart knows what is going on – they’re not an innocent party.

  5. Stuart – Assuming that there used to be small businesses in town that provided the goods before wal-mart moved in, I would venture to guess that it was the consumers that decided to make wal-mart the only game in town.

    Aren’t these city officials adults capable of making their own decisions? I still blame the city officials for the corruption part of it.

    If I convince you to steal a car, it isn’t my fault if you follow through. It is yours.

  6. If I convince you to steal a car, it isn’t my fault if you follow through. It is yours.

    But it is partially your fault if I steal the car and GIVE it to you. If you accept it, you’re partially to blame.

    Using your logic, you could never prosecute gang or mob leaders – after all, they don’t do the stealing/killing themselves, they “convince” their underlings to do it.

  7. Has wal-mart committed any crimes? Perhaps the fact that they haven’t is a little suspicious… no? Where are the laws against eminent domain and tax abatements?

  8. patrimalu – regarding the gang reference… what crime did the gang leader committ? This is the same type of irrational logic that applies to cigarrettes for example. You want to blame the cigarrette and not the idiot that smokes it.

  9. Has wal-mart committed any crimes? Perhaps the fact that they haven’t is a little suspicious… no? Where are the laws against eminent domain and tax abatements?

    Exploiting a corrupt system is participating in that corrupt system. Since they didn’t “break laws” against eminent domain, but profited from them, it seems your argument is pro-eminent domain.

    Besides, they have broken many laws. They have been fined for child labor violations, denying workers breaks, employing and exploiting illegal immigrants, violating environmental restrictions, union busting, trading with Cuba, and more.

    One may argue that these things shouldn’t be against the law, etc, but if you argue they were right in benefitting from bad laws, you can’t then say that it’s wrong for them to be PUNISHED for violating bad laws.

  10. What crime did the gang leader commit? Are you arguing that paying someone to murder another person isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a crime?

    And I don’t get your analogy with the cigarettes. People who are the victims of hitmen do not CHOOSE to die, but when one smokes, one is in effect choosing to accept the consequences. It’s not a good analogy.

  11. Exploiting a corrupt system is participating in that corrupt system. Since they didn’t “break laws” against eminent domain, but profited from them, it seems your argument is pro-eminent domain.

    No, my argument is that they didn’t break any laws. I am not saying that eminent domain is “right”. You are not understanding.

    Besides, they have broken many laws. They have been fined for child labor violations, denying workers breaks, employing and exploiting illegal immigrants, violating environmental restrictions, union busting, trading with Cuba, and more.

    Irrelevant.

    One may argue that these things shouldn’t be against the law, etc, but if you argue they were right in benefitting from bad laws, you can’t then say that it’s wrong for them to be PUNISHED for violating bad laws.

    Why not?

  12. Are you arguing that paying someone to murder another person isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a crime?

    No. I didn’t not say coerce or force.

    People who are the victims of hitmen do not CHOOSE to die, but when one smokes, one is in effect choosing to accept the consequences. It’s not a good analogy.

    Now you are changing the subject once again. You were talking about gang leaders and their underlings. Now you are talking about the victims…. strange. Anyway, when you choose to kill someone, you choose to accept the consequences. No matter how many red herrings you try to implant in the argument.

  13. Irrelevant.

    It is relevant. You asked if Wal-Mart had broken any laws. I listed a few. It was a direct answer to your question.

    One may argue that these things shouldn’t be against the law, etc, but if you argue they were right in benefitting from bad laws, you can’t then say that it’s wrong for them to be PUNISHED for violating bad laws.

    Why not?

    Because you accept the consequences of your actions, even if you’re a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. They’re just fine with the law, when it benefits them unjustly (stealing other peoples’ homes). Why should they then be surprised when another bad law comes back to bite them? They were playing with fire. And by accepting that stolen property, they are every bit as bad as the people who stole it – it was stolen expressly for them.

  14. Wal- Mart and the Developers just take advantage of the existing law. Of course they are willing players in the Cities schemes to steal people’s land. But don’t forget they are in business to make money.If wal-mart or the developers will refuse to play the Cities will find sommebody else.(Remember General Motors contributed to the so-called “precedents” used now by our Supreme Court to screw us- when they
    accepted and/or provoked the deal in Poletown 25 years ago)

  15. Now you are changing the subject once again. You were talking about gang leaders and their underlings. Now you are talking about the victims…. strange. Anyway, when you choose to kill someone, you choose to accept the consequences. No matter how many red herrings you try to implant in the argument.

    Again, it was a direct answer to your cigarettes comment. Just because you didn’t understand it doesn’t make it a red herring.

    I was trying to say that when a gang leader instructs a gang member to murder someone, they are also at fault for that murder. To which you replied:

    This is the same type of irrational logic that applies to cigarrettes for example. You want to blame the cigarrette and not the idiot that smokes it.

    Again, it’s not a valid analogy. To be valid, the person being murdered would have to agree to it, as “the idiot who smokes it” agrees to the consequences.

  16. It is relevant. You asked if Wal-Mart had broken any laws. I listed a few. It was a direct answer to your question.

    Nonsense. You have implanted so many red herrings you have confused yourself. We are talking about the use eminent domain and tax abatements. They have not broken any laws in that respect have they?

  17. To be valid, the person being murdered would have to agree to it, as “the idiot who smokes it” agrees to the consequences.

    Exactly. That is why the underling would be guilty. Back to the subject at hand, that is why I blame the city officials and not wal-mart.

  18. Nonsense. You have implanted so many red herrings you have confused yourself. We are talking about the use eminent domain and tax abatements. They have not broken any laws in that respect have they?

    I didn’t say they have broken any eminent domain laws. I argued that they are wrong, and they are doing things that are wrong. I DID say they broke OTHER laws, but only in response to your question:

    Has wal-mart committed any crimes?

    I think that Wal-Mart should NOT accept property from eminent domain, and by doing so, they’re just as bad as the governments who seized it. I do not believe that is “right”, honorable, or ethical. And I believe if one party induces or entices a second party to do a crime or unethical activity that harms a third party, and that second party does it, the first party is also partially to blame.

    I guess we’re going to have to “agree to disagree”.

  19. Jim – Smart move to take advantage of the system to eliminate competitors? Yes. Reason to hate? No.

    The regulations (minimum wage) designed to encourage this nonsense is what you should be focusing on. Not wal-mart.

  20. Without a doubt Wal-mart is using the system to get ahead, just like every other company. You can’t just pick on Wal-Mart because they are the biggest. We need to get at the source of the problem, which is the system. It is the system of eminent domain that needs to be addressed, not Wal-Mart. It is the system of giving tax breaks to companies coming to town that needs to be addressed, not Wal-Mart. If a community has money to give to a company, why not instead leave it in the pockets of the taxpayers in the first place so that they have more money to make purchases at a business of their own choosing.

    Wal-Mart is not an innocent party in all this but they do not deserve to take the blame for a corrupt and poor system. The politicians should be taking this blame. If you don’t like the way Wal-Mart does business don’t shop there, but you may not have a lot of other choices as I just received an e-mail saying we should boycott Target for the way they do business.

  21. Jeez, don’t you guys work? ;o)
    I hate Wal-Mart. On the rare occasions that I must purchase something from them, I find that the shopping experience changes me. I walk in happy and walk out hating humanity. Messy aisles, bad service and a generally dirty feel about the stores send my mood south.
    That said, it does seem that Wal-Mart plays by the rules. They profit by government theft of and and now when the gov forces them to pay more for employee healthcare, they say they will comply. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=37550
    Wal-Mart prez and CEO claims bad public policy. What is good for the goose…right?

  22. Without a doubt Wal-mart is using the system to get ahead, just like every other company. You can’t just pick on Wal-Mart because they are the biggest.

    I agree with that entirely. A lot of businesses exploit bad laws to their own ends – not just Wal-Mart. They just happen to be high profile and prolific.

    It is the system of eminent domain that needs to be addressed, not Wal-Mart.

    You mean it is the tool being wielded to commit the bad deed, not the wielder, that is to blame? That the is the fault of the tool being used, not the person using it? I’ve heard that somewhere before, I just can’t remember where…

  23. You mean it is the tool being wielded to commit the bad deed, not the wielder, that is to blame? That the is the fault of the tool being used, not the person using it? I’ve heard that somewhere before, I just can’t remember where…

    LOL. I caught that and now I am stumped.

  24. Michelle: My girlfriend of five years and I have agreed to never go to Walmart together again. Every time we do, our relationship gets threatened due to arguments spawned by general malaise. (Just letting you know you’re not alone.)

    In estimation of what I’ve seen here: Walmart, a large corporation with economic muscle, is using that muscle — barely — within legal means to continue the cycle of their economic dominance.

    While from an economic stance, this is entirely viable and just, the other side of this is the “human equation.” The end result of such practices is an overall lowering of quality-of-life.

    So the Libertarian position is what? We defend Wal-Mart’s right to dole out what health-care it chooses, in a universal sense of defending *all* corporations. We *then* criticize the very *PRACTICE* of Eminent domain.

    The simple presence of the name “Wal-Mart” should be irrelevant.

    Just one man’s take.

  25. As far as I’m concerned, big business and government are in collusion. Businesses receive their ridiculous legal priveleges from government, as well as many other additional priveleges in the form of eminent domain, subsidies, etc. The 14th amendment and the following Supreme Court decisions relating to the word “person” is where much of this stems from.

    Business then repays government by following its laws, supporting its violation of rights, and generally selling out the public.

    Those using government privelege form a major part of the problem. After all, who do you think will argue against fixing the broken system the hardest except those that profit the most from it?

  26. You mean it is the tool being wielded to commit the bad deed, not the wielder, that is to blame? That the is the fault of the tool being used, not the person using it? I’ve heard that somewhere before, I just can’t remember where…

    Tools and whatever else used to committ crimes are not laws. You can use a tool to commit a crime. You can’t use a law to commit a crime.

  27. The eminent domain issue may not be totally clear, as Wal-Mart does not have the direct power to take property. However, 10 and 11 million dollar payouts are in their demands and contracts locally. I have a copy of one such contract proposal on my desk right now.

  28. Tools and whatever else used to committ crimes are not laws. You can use a tool to commit a crime. You can’t use a law to commit a crime.

    I’ll stipulate Wal-Mart MAY not have committed eminent domain “crimes”. You’ll note I said “to commit the bad deed”, and not “to commit the crime”. That’s not my point.

    My major disagreement with libertarian Wal-Mart supporters: They think it’s okay for Wal-Mart to take advantage of the system, and take private property, because it’s not Wal-Mart who CREATED those laws (they’re just using them as a tool to do a bad deed.)

    My position is that since Wal-Mart knows they’re taking private property and does it anyway, they are also responsible for committing bad acts (not necessarily “crimes”). In a land of bad laws, bad deeds can be legal.

    This doesn’t mean I’m letting other Eminent Domain proponents and profiteers off the hook. This conversation just happens to be about Wal-Mart, so I’m using them as my point.

  29. I agree (mostly) with putrimalu.

    The real difference between the tool analogy, is that government agents choose to commit theft on Wal-Mart’s behalf, whereas an inanimate object like a gun or knife cannot act alone. Governments are, in effect, acting as agents of Wal-Mart in this case. That makes both Wal-Mart and the respective governments party to theft.

  30. If there was a law which stated it is okay to steal thy neighbor’s television, would that make it morally permissable for me to steal your idiot box?

  31. putrimalu – then shouldn’t you be focusing on the bad laws?

    I can focus on both things.

    For example, I read recently about a man who’d discovered a profitable scheme. He would find online retailers and buy from them. If they neglected to charge him a state tax, he would report them to the IRS (or their state equivalent), who would then go after those businesses. Then, the man would collect a percentage of whatever tax or fines the tax agencies were able to levy from those businesses.

    Of course I hate taxation in every form. Yet, I can also hate that man, can I not? He was acting as an agent of the state, hurting people who’d done no harm to him or society – he is a vile man, and I can recognize this, without letting the tax system who made this scheme possible off the hook.

    He didn’t create the laws that hurt those people, but he certainly exploited them and hurt other people. So does Wal-Mart.

  32. I think that it is obvious that any company which wishes to get ahead (unfairly) on the backs of another shows the poor character of its management. Theft is theft whether government sanctioned or not. Wal-Mart is one of the many corporations out there that ease their consciences by saying that the government allows it so it must be OK. For Libertarians to say that it is OK that businesses take advantage of an unfair law is,in my opinion, opposite of libertarian thought. Sure we support business freedom, but we support first the right to one’s self and property. The law may well allow this, but let’s not pretend that it excuses immoral behavior.

  33. Wal-Mart has got nothing to do with the free market. In addition to being recipients of eminent domain and corporate welfare, they are also actually owned in part by the government. Don’t believe me? Check out the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of local, state, and federal government agencies (aka-CAFRs). Go to Walter Burien’s website at http://www.CAFR1.com and also check out http://www.cafrman.com. Do an internet search for CAFRs.

    Here are a few government agencies that own chunks of Wal-Mart stock.

    CALPERS (California State Employees Pension Fund)

    California Public School Tearchers Pension Fund

    Illinois State Investment Board

    Iowa State University

    There are more but those are just a few off the top of my head.

    Remember that all government funds come from taxes, fines, and fees.

    Wal-Mart is an example of the “unholy alliance” between big government and big corporations.

    Also, corporations are creations of the state.

  34. I think it is crap that any business or individual receives the benefits of eminent domain at the expense of another business or individual. But we are letting the politicians who allow this to happen off way to easy by condemning only Wal-Mart for this practice. As I said before Wal-Mart is not innocent in all this, but we need to put our focus on how to solve the problem and it is not punishing only Wal-Mart directly.

    What we need to do is end all these goodies that businesses and individuals receive and get rid of most regulations and allow a free market to work its wonders. In so doing these big businesses won’t be able to manipulate the market and the sleazy politicians will no longer have anything to hand out to businesses or use as an axe over someones head, in otherwords they will have lost most of their power. The power will go rightfully back to the individual and the consumer. The businesses and politicians will be at our mercy, not the other way around.

  35. This is a truly interesting topic and I think Wal-Mart can be both DEFENDED and CRITICIZED where due. The defenses we see on sites like LewRockwell.com and Mises.org are valid and necessary defenses against the typical socialist charges of them being anti-union, exploitative, destroying communities and all kinds of other nonsensical BS we constantly reminded of.

    At the same time, Wal-Mart also deserves criticism for their “unholy alliances” with gov’t, exploiting the immoral eminent domain laws for their benefit. But, I agree mostly with Terry in that, yes, Wal-Mart and their gov’t cronies are partners in crime, but ultimately most of the blame MUST be placed on the gov’t for allowing such things to happen. They are the ones that still hold the power to make and enforce laws, and naturally, are always the ones the bribers come to, not the other way around. If every gov’t were consistently principled (think Ron Paul), lobbying for the use of their power would vanish overnight.

  36. Maryland and Walmart health care-is occuring here in WI also-WalMart workers using state BadgerCare. I posed the question out there-isn’t that what all the nannies here in Dane CO Madison want? Socialized healthcare? Isn’t it what they want (ED or not-share it all, the good of the one for the many- if that ONE CHOOSES to sacrifice for the many I would add!!). So today it is the Borg/Spock/Enterprise. Years past it was Wizard of Oz and Tolkiens Ring Trilogy as warnings of Despots/Tyrants taking over the world. Hope the grandkids have a chance to read that as history/fantasy.

  37. If a business is willing to take state aid, the business can likewise willing to accept state meddling.

    Amen! I wish I’d been able to say it that succinctly.

  38. The only member who was opposed was sick today. He was given three minutes by speaker phone to address the council, but was not allowed to vote against awarding the contract.

    Yeah, I bet he was sick.

  39. From the lewrockwell blog:

    “Wal-Mart is quite adept as extracting free land and taxpayer subsidies in its sweetheart deals with local governments. Of course, Wal-Mart could do none of this without the power of government to do the dirty work. And, Wal-Mart in no way forces city councils to dole out favors. Yet, at least in this aspect of its business, it hardly makes Wal-Mart a great example of the free market at work.”

    http://blog.lewrockwell.com/lewrw/archives/005454.html

  40. Robert Mayer said:

    “This is a truly interesting topic and I think Wal-Mart can be both DEFENDED and CRITICIZED where due. The defenses we see on sites like LewRockwell.com and Mises.org are valid and necessary defenses against the typical socialist charges of them being anti-union, exploitative, destroying communities and all kinds of other nonsensical BS we constantly reminded of.

    At the same time, Wal-Mart also deserves criticism for their “unholy alliances” with gov’t, exploiting the immoral eminent domain laws for their benefit.”

    Yeah, what he said, just about perfectly.

    Greg Clark

  41. Some of you people are being way to easy on Wal-Mart. They are EQUAL partners in crime with the government. In fact, since various government enities own large shares of stock in Wal-Mart, and since Wal-Mart is a corporation and corporations are creations of the state set up to grant limited liability, I think that a case can be made that Wal-Mart IS an extension of the government.

    If the people who run Wal-Mart were really honest and ethical people, why would they accept corporate welfare and eminent domain and other government favors?

    Say that you were a small shop owner that recieved no special “favors” from the government. How are you supposed to compete with a company that recieves all kinds of “favors” from the government?

    Wal-Mart has NOTHING to do with the free market and any “libertarian” that claims otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about and should be embarrassed.

  42. Walmart is a diseased tentacle of the diseased beast Leviathan.

    They are by FAR the largest recipient of corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse, and as Andy mentioned they also have a large part of their stock owned by various Regime funds.

    Also, some of the reason why they can get away with charging such low prices and stay competitive – other than
    eminent domain, corporate welfare, and friendly relations with dictatorial slave-labor exploiting regimes all over the world – is that they supplement their wages with GOVERNMENT benefits, which they direct their employees to apply for. Thus in fact putting the bill for the benefit portion of their employment package to the taxpayers.

    Walmart is by far the top employer engaging in this practice in (probably) all states, certainly most. In cases where we have looked at it, by a factor of 4 or 5 to one over the nearest competitor corporation for regime benefits.

  43. Some (but not all) libertarians don’t realize that big corporations are really evil, and not at all a free market.

    They are actually a fascist regime-favored business partnership which totally distorts the free market and gives it a bad name.

    At the same time some (but not all) people on the left don’t realize that government by its very nature is unable to counterbalance the economic fascism of corporate rule; it becomes co-opted at every turn, just as its partner corporations become co-opted by the regime.

    When it comes to regime corporations and the corporate regime (forcible state), just as when it comes to the Ds and Rs, it’s not the lesser of two evils – it’s actually the same evil in two lesser disguises.

    The gangster regime (state) and corporate (fascist) economy have to be abolished together; it is impossible to abolish or rein in one without the other.

    They are mutually symbiotic parasites living at the expense of free association – market and coop.

  44. PC,

    The problem is that I never thought I’d have to debate von Mises and Lew Rockwell types onthe issue.

  45. Steve G,

    Yeah, they got their head up their ass about this one big time.

    Not sure why, as they have posted some pretty well-reasoned anti-big business stuff on LRC, mises.org, etc.

    And thanks again for being on the right side of this issue, as with so many others…

    Roderick Long and Charles Johnson (radgeek) have made more principled and consistent anti-oligarchy arguments than Lew and Co.

  46. Yeah, I’m suprised to hear this kind of crap from people out of the Mises Institute as well. I’ve come to expect pro-corporate crap from the Cato Institute and The Reason Foundation, but I thought that the Mises Institute was above this kind of stuff. However, maybe it is just some of the people affiliated with the Mises Institute who are saying this stuff and not the entire organization.

  47. I was surfing the libertarian blogosphere and found a challenge:

    anybody else see a dumbass going by the name mike nelson “holding forth” here, pretending to debate wal-mart and the state?

    There’s more at the link. I’d love to see that debate.

  48. mike nelson, you say the word, and comments will be enabled within 24 hours. i may have zapped them from my template when i shut the blog down too early last year. so it could take that long to get to, and there may be glitches at first. if i add moderation (new since my blog was last active), everything you say will be zipped right through ASAP, long as it’s not spam or vandalism. curse, rant, quote relevant poetry, sing a song… free speech is savored over at the IDIOT, even though it’s not “legally” required to be. you can even leave 10,000 characters in one shot. no charge!

  49. that’s what i expected, mike. you’re better off here, where your opponents let your ears get boxed gently, and sophistry is allowed to fizzle without rebuke. maybe it’s a better method.

  50. Charley,

    I am confused as to why:

    1) You still haven’t opened your comments (not that I care to entertain your very strange request).
    2) If you are in such great need to debate my point of view, why you don’t/can’t do it here?

  51. not going to debate in a forum where the administrators “reserve the right to remove comments for whatever vague capricious reasons seem reasonable at the time.”

    no reason to be confused why i haven’t “opened” comments. as explained above, it likely requires a template mod i don’t feel like getting into if nobody wants to yap it up. probably not just a switch to throw in this case.

    far as i know, i left no “very strange request” for you to “entertain”. only reason i commented in this thread is because you typed “Strange, he doesn’t allow comments…”, and i heard about it. so i came to let you know that if you want to comment at my blog, you only need to tell me and it will be possible soon after. don’t want to? okay. less work for me.

  52. Charley,

    Unless you are not capable of rational debate without the use of ad hominem, you don’t have anything to worry about. HoT and libertarias in general value diverse opinions.

  53. Hey you guys,

    I have a forum, I’d be willing to set up a forum for you guys to debate. Totally uncensored and impartial. Yes, I have my own opinion in the debate, but I wouldn’t delete/edit anything. We could announce it far and wide and invite spectators – it would be great.

    Any takers?

  54. Great debate here, I’m glad to see libertarian apologism for corporate welfare finally being taken to task.

    When we talk about big business in the modern American political climate, we are talking about politics – one way or another. There’s no way to talk about the tax structure in a fair manner without looking at the competitive advantages corporations get, or the handouts. Big business is designed from the ground up to take advantage of state intervention, to support it, and to control it.

    Lost in the mainstream libertarian treatment of business is the idea of institutional analysis: *why* things are broke. The world we live in is not simply a product of gov’t but rather an entire network of interdependent private and state concerns. History demonstrates that these nominally private interests aren’t terribly concerned with liberty. The state and the corporate elite work hand in glove to effect a shared agenda – but acknowledging it would be to admit the left *has* a point.

  55. “Unless you are not capable of rational debate without the use of ad hominem, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

    that’s not what the notice says. i’m taking it at its word. i also know that most people — especially those using the term often these days — don’t have a clue what “ad hominem” means. it is a logical fallacy, not mere name calling or insult. it also is in no greater need of censorship than any other use of fallacy (such as some present in this thread).

    comments are now enabled at my blog. use it or not. i will not participate fully here while the warning persists that my effort may be axed at any moment for any vague, capricious reason.

  56. Short of obvious spammers, I only know of two people who have been censored (by intent, that is — sometimes comments with a zillion hyperlinks or which use the word V!agra get automatically filtered) here. While I’d allow slightly more leeway than Van Dyke, the rationale is neither vague nor capricious.

    The only one I’ve deleted contained potential death threats.

  57. putrimalu, thanks. i don’t care much where an argument happens, as long as there’s no interference. i don’t think it’s worth announcing far and wide though; unless mike nelson wants to raise some significant new material, the debate probably wouldn’t be worth seeing.

    though i ridiculed mike on my blog, i haven’t refuted his propositions. if you guarantee no censorship nor interference, i’ll be happy to do that, send it to you, and you can publish it. he can just let it sit there, far as i care. not like it matters much, so please don’t hype it, however its sliced.

  58. But, I agree mostly with Terry in that, yes, Wal-Mart and their gov’t cronies are partners in crime, but ultimately most of the blame MUST be placed on the gov’t for allowing such things to happen.

    The last time I checked, we are (at least in ancient theory) “the gov’t” — it’s happening under our watch, friends.

  59. “U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) proposed legislation to help GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler. Senator Obama said the federal government would pay 10% of the $6.7 billion in retired autoworker’s annual health-care costs. In return, the auto companies would commit to building more fuel-efficient cars.”

    Let me guess.. it will be GM, Ford and Chrysler’s fault??

  60. “Let me guess.. it will be GM, Ford and Chrysler’s fault??”

    mike, you seem to be concerned, apparently in some vague relation to liberty, with whether something violates “the law”. maybe you could answer two questions re your latest comment. under what part(s) of the US constitution (“supreme law of the land”) may the senate legislate regarding health care or fuel efficiency? if such legislation is not in any way the fault of GM, ford, or chrysler, then whose fault is it?

    you didn’t really say chrysler, did you?

  61. Charley,

    It appears you answered your question for me. If Congress is making unconstitutional laws, the blame lies soley on them – not those affected by the laws.

  62. may appear that way to you. i’ll rebut at libertyfilter, if putrimalu still wants to do that. even if the “vague capricious” notice is waived here, the 1,000 character limit isn’t going to work for this one.

  63. one last thing, mike: would you mind sharing with me if you have any core political principles? for example, my core principle for ideal human interaction is that no one (nor group of ones) may consider the property of another (“property” including self) in any way to be at the disposal of anyone except the owner(s), absent aggression or consent from that party.

    your stated beliefs in this thread do not agree with mine. can your general view be summed up as a single or few principles for ideal human interaction that would fit with your statements in this thread? if so, please state it/them. thanks. i assumed, probably mistakenly, that you subscribed to general libertarian principle. if not, there’s no point in me simply further enunciating your brand of statism.

  64. Charley,

    Again, you answer your own question. Property theft is unconstitutional, and against my principles. Therefore I blame the state and not the victim.

  65. Charley,

    Weren’t we talking about:

    “U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) proposed legislation to help GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler. Senator Obama said the federal government would pay 10% of the $6.7 billion in retired autoworker’s annual health-care costs. In return, the auto companies would commit to building more fuel-efficient cars.”

    ?? You are getting off-topic.

  66. sure that’s what we were talking about — along with the wal-mart stuff earlier, and especially your “Let me guess.. it will be GM, Ford and Chrysler’s fault??” comment. it is in direct relation to those subjects, and on topic, that i ask you, once again: can your general view for ideal human interaction be summed up as a single or few principles that would fit with all of your statements in this thread? if so, please state it/them. thanks. i am asking you a direct question, on topic, and sincerely.

  67. “Short of obvious spammers, I only know of two people who have been censored (by intent, that is — sometimes comments with a zillion hyperlinks or which use the word V!agra get automatically filtered) here. While I’d allow slightly more leeway than Van Dyke, the rationale is neither vague nor capricious.”

    would somebody from this site please explain to me how many of my comments in this thread now are missing, and why? stephen, your comment seemed to indicate that this sort of thing wouldn’t go on, despite the notice. why is at least one of my comments from today missing, as of the last 6 hours or so? if my comment was actively removed by the site admins, what non-vague and non-capricious rationale was used to do it? i remember that post, and there was nothing in it marking it for censorship for any reason except the inordinate protection of a site member’s persistent illogic.

  68. CH,

    Too many hyperlinks will do it. Also too many messages in a very short period of time. I can tell that VanDyke must have adjusted that throttle a bit, but not sure what it is currently set at.

    We get a WHOLE lot of comment spam (of the V!agra type) here, so it is a constant battle for us.

  69. CH,

    Note the bottom of the page:

    Spam Karma has eaten 58526 evil comments and trackbacks.

  70. ahh, nice — a 12+ hour posting delay following a “your comment got toasted” message. this spam eater thing is fun! worried about mike though. anybody got an emergency number for the boy?

  71. Hmmm… A new theory to why some posters on HoT and elsewhere defend Wal-Mart so vigorously?

    Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.

    Story here…

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