jousts at Walmart. Sure, it's the only business in the U.S. that plays local governments for tax breaks. NOT! It's not Walmart's fault for pulling this, it's the eagerness of local governments to sell out their local taxpayers to bring in more sale tax revenues. I don't like this practice, either, particularly when it takes over as in the Kelo
Sure, Mom and Pop local businesses can't compete with that, but is K-Mart going to be any less grasping?
And his "aesthetic/humanistic" element is not conservative. It's elitist and reeks of the kind of central planning mentality that Hayek warned about. Furthermore, Walmart didn't create the move away from the old downtown main streets. The City of Price in Central Utah is the closest case I have to look at, but it was well on its way before Walmart moved in. It had two strip malls on the east and west ends of the city and its mainstreet was in decline well before that.
If we're going to start attacking business bully-boys, why don't we hear this whining about Microsoft. It destroyed WordPerfect which was employed a lot of workers in Utah, and then targeted Novell, which has survived, but only on the basis of building on Linux. Yet Bill Gates is the most admired man in America. He's praised for the number of millionaires created by his stock option programs, but nobody notes the others put out of work by his business tactics.
The Super-Walmart in this area is bright, clean and well-stocked. It's thirty miles from us. In the same city, Price, there's a Super K-Mart, which is older, dirtier, with half the lighting removed and employees scarce as hen's teeth. The last time I bought anything there, I had to use the paging system myself to get a clerk at the sporting goods desk. The nearest Target is 120 miles away, and the main difference I can see is the color scheme and Target's yuppie appeal to style and design. More power to it, but I doubt that it's any more virtuous than Walmart. It competes below Walmart's radar, but I doubt that it would turn down any local tax incentives.
I believe in the free market, and I haven't seen Walmart doing anything that any other big company doesn't do to stay ahead of the competition. IBM used to be the big bully that everybody complained about, until it failed to spot the Next Big Thing. Someday that'll happen to Walmart, Toyota and Microsoft, just as it happened to GM. American workers have to compete with the workers who produced the stuff they buy cheap. That's the way markets work. We should demand fair competition, but it seems kind of hypocritical to accuse places like China of violating human rights and then refuse to let its people have better jobs and economic development like that which made us prosperous. It's only when people have economic choices that they can stand up and demand more from their governments.
The U.S. has had a good run, but too many of us forget how we got here. We were born on third base and think we hit a triple. We shouldn't forget, though, that like IBM and GM, our fortunes can dive quickly. The best guard against it is low taxes and willingness to compete with anybody. I don't believe that we can deal with the poorer nations in this hemisphere by shutting them out. We need to engage their governments and press for improved property rights and legal reforms that will help their people to build on economic principles of free enterprise.