Bernie Sanders is attacking Hillary Clinton for the fact that Alice Walton is supporting Mrs. Clinton's campaign. But if you aren't a socialist, that news may be encouraging rather than terrifying. The situation is the topic of my column this week; please check it out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).
In response to the column, a community member sent this note:
It is fashionable on the left to decry Walmart. Of course, Walmart has been one of the biggest deflationary forces in the US economy over the last 30-40 years (and especially through the 1990s). Walmart used its buying power to force Procter and Gamble — to pick one example — to lower its price for Tide. And then, Walmart turned around and gave that savings to its customers. Without the intervention of Walmart, the average customer cannot get P&G to lower its price on detergent.
Walmart has helped Americans (and others around the world) to reduce expenditures on necessities such as food, cleaning products, health and beauty aid, and clothing. Families without much disposable income growth could free up budget by shopping at Walmart vs. supermarkets and the real prices for many goods declined for years. This is a really big deal for those living on various types of public assistance. Truly a miracle.
And in the process, Walmart hired thousands of seniors and many other who may have left the labor force but for the opportunities at the company.
Yet, it is fashionable to disparage Walmart for all types of sins.
Of course, people can say what they want and shop where they want. (I, for one, welcome Walmart's prices.) What gets me, is these same people have no problem shifting so much of their consumption to Amazon. Amazon works great for rich people. We pay an annual fee ($99) and we can order thousands of items with no extra shipping charges. Taxpayers subsidize this delivery through the U.S. Postal Service. We let the cardboard pile up in our garages and then let our towns recycle it.
And Amazon is wrecking ball when it comes to competition. It is happy to host your retail business but sooner or later it might decide it wants the volume for itself. If it sees enough demand for the product you sell, it might start to have it manufactured for itself and sold under the Amazon brand. It enters tangential business lines and destroys pricing (Amazon Web Services, Kindle books, etc.). All this so rich people can get their stuff cheaper and faster.
...Amazon was able to undercut Barnes & Noble for years by not paying sales tax (another subsidy for Amazon). Yes, Amazon collects sales tax now but its major, direct online competitors are gone. Frankly, we need Walmart's enormous investment in online commerce as bulwark against Amazon.
I shop at both companies. I am just stunned at how over-educated, yet often economically illiterate, American view Walmart vs. Amazon.