Wal-Mart

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, has written a post on Wal-Mart over at Boars Head Tavern. He’s entitled it, “Let’s fight about Wal-Mart,” so I’ll humor him and have a go.

Spencer writes that almost everyone in rural Kentucky loves Wal-Mart. This is mystifying. What is the deal with these people? I mean sure, Wal-Mart may increase your real income by lowering prices (maybe: No Frills in Canada routinely undercuts Wal-Mart’s prices on food), but the damage they do to people and communities is disgusting.

Case in point: Wal-Mart is heralded by most as being the pinnacle of modern day American industry. In the 60’s, that spot belonged to GM. Let’s compare the two. In 1968, most of GM’s employees worked there for life, had extensive health and retirement benefits, and made about $29,000 a year in today’s dollars. Paul Krugman points out that this was a solidly middle class income at the time.

What about Wal-Mart? Only half of all Wal-Mart employees are covered in their health care plan and the average full time employee makes $17,000 a year.

Wow.

This is all the more interesting because in terms of GDP America is a much richer country than it was in 1968.

There is no excuse for this.

Spencer is probably right that “running against Wal-Mart as the Evil Empire is politically nuts,” but all this proves is that people in the South are just plain nuts.

I mean, hey, this is a poor voting bloc that refused to vote for Truman and sweeping healthcare reforms that would have directly benefited them to avoid integrated hospitals.

Way to go guys.