Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 23, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Wal-Mart

… is from a letter to the editor in today’s Wall Street Journal by the fine Ball State University economist T. Norman Van Cott:

But the truth is, Wal-Mart and its counterparts spread far more holiday-food cheer than do churches and public-service groups.

Scholars estimate that the presence of Wal-Mart in a community reduces food prices somewhere between 10% and 15%. That’s equivalent to shoppers receiving an additional 5.2 to 7.8 weeks of “free” food shopping. That Wal-Mart’s customer base is skewed toward lower-income shoppers reinforces the beneficent consequences of its price effect.

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W.E. Heasley November 23, 2011 at 7:37 am

William Graham Sumner brought us “The Forgotten Man”.

T. Norman Van Cott brings us “The Forgotten Firm” : “Hey, the idea that one can do good while doing well in the marketplace has always been a tough sell“ – Van Cott.

Moreover, as Harold Demsetz has reminded us, oh so many times, the firm is merely a collection of households.

Hence we have the church, the firm, and the end consumer. The missing item in this equation? The forgotten item is government. The Thanksgiving shirking partner as it were:

‘A tax levied on corporate profit reduces the care and effort owners put into its operation, since part of the return that would have been received by owners will go to the state. Defacto, private owners of the corporation are saddled with a shirking partner, the state, which takes part of the revenue and provides none of the effort to improve the firm’s return. Consequently the greater is the corporate tax rate, the greater the incentive for corporate owners and management to pursue the “quiet life”.’

- Harold Demsetz, From Economic Man to Economic System, page 158.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 9:04 am

The argument goes that the state uses those funds to provide the firm with lsupport infrastructure.  The roads it and it’s customers use to transport the goods, the water supply and sewage service, the education it provides are all covered by taxes says the state.
What would these services look like if it became illegal for the state to provide them?  I think it would take longer to organize them but that the end result would be a vast improvement over the infrastructure we have today.
Aid agencies, like charities, help to kill local markets preventing entrepreneurs from forming supportive infrastucture in so many parts of the globe.

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 9:21 am

I disagree with your last sentence. I do not think charities kill local markets. If anything, they enhance them. Of course, this goes for private, voluntary charities, not state-mandated gift-giving.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

It seems that giving away food and money simply creates a self fulfilling need for more free food.  It artificially enhances an areas sustainability.  If people were free to move out of these areas the charity wouldn’t be needed.  I make no distinction between handouts and government aid.  People who shop at low-end stores are just as dignified as those who shop at high-end stores.  There is little dignity in living off charity.  To me charity is helping someone through a rough patch with the knowledge that they are working toward not needing the help.

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

“To me charity is helping someone through a rough patch with the knowledge that they are working toward not needing the help.”

I agree 100%. That’s what makes charity so great. It cannot be a life-long safety net; it can only be a short-term help.

Nuke Nemesis November 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Private charity is understood as a gift. Public welfare is an entitlement.

kyle8 November 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Cannot agree. If a private charity gives away food, it must still obtain the food from somewhere and so it purchases food, or blankets or whatever and distributes them to the needy.

The needy are temporarily better off thus obviating the need for them to take desperate measures for their basic sustenance.

These desperate measures may include theft, prostitution, and other vices. But it could also include making common cause with stateists.

The result of just a few people starving in the streets is a full court press by the media and the left wing to call for more socialism.

So charity does the very real and measurable good of delaying or blunting calls for socialism.
Even Karl Marx understood this which is why he was against private charity.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

That’s the argument that people who are bad at math make. If that’s all the federal government did, its budget would be about 25% of what it is now.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

Wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive list. I was asking what a world without any help from a government look like? I know it’s not reality or even possible just wondering.
Could commerce even exist without government organization?
Route 66 was supported almost entirely by local businesses who would attract (some would say distract) drivers with enticing ads to get them to pull over and buy something.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

The belief that no private company would ever build a road, airport, dock, or train track makes about as much sense and has as much empirical evidence as the belief that if the PA state government abolished ABC stores and its monopoly privileges, no private business would ever sell beer there.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Maybe they’re right about that? Easy way to test that theory…

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

No need to test. Look at the Chinese city of Wenzhou.

http://reason.com/archives/2011/11/15/chinas-black-market-city

Will November 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

Has anyone studied the precise effects of a Wal-Mart on local business? I would be interested to see the true evaluation of Wal-Mart on local economies taking into account how many business closed and employees lost their jobs as a result of inability to compete with Wal-Mart compared to how many jobs Wal-Mart creates and savings past on to consumers like the food savings quoted above. I suspect that the benefits of Wal-Mart greatly out way any costs.

jjoxman November 23, 2011 at 9:20 am

Art Carden has done a lot of work on Wal-mart: http://www.artcarden.com/walmart.php

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

Competition always results in businesses who are worse at satisfying the need sof consumers losing their business. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing–why would you want the scarce resources of society to be used in an inefficient way?

Will November 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I don’t know if it is rhetorical or directed right at me, but I never said competition from Wal-Mart was a bad thing. I was just curious if anyone had ever looked to the total picture of Wal-Marts economic impact instead of focusing on small pieces.

kyle8 November 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

All the left wingers cry crocodile tears about the “Mom and Pop” stores that are harmed by Walmart (and Auto zone, and Lowes etc.)

But I grew up in a small town where all we had was mom and pop.

Guess what? They SUCKED! They were expensive, never had much choice in products, and were never open when you needed them.

Screw Mom and POP.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm

My guess is that it’s bad for established businesses that don’t adapt and great for consumers.
Mom and Pop is such a loaded description. They’re not my mom or pop.

muirgeo November 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

“That Wal-Mart’s customer base is skewed toward lower-income shoppers…”

Yeah , that’s great because decreased wages, decreased employment and sucking money from the local economy to Bentonville each night creates more low income shoppers….. IT’S A WIN WIN!

Seth November 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

Maybe you should create an alternative and compete. You can hire a lot of workers and pay them more.

W.E. Heasley November 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

Seth:

Excellent point!

Randy November 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yeah, I don’t think these folks are willing to accept the idea of competition – at least not fully. That is, they want a cut of the profits that are made in the competitive world, but they just can’t deal with the idea that competition is what makes it work.

brotio November 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Maybe you should create an alternative and compete.

A similar challenge was made when our Dear, stupid Ducktor asserted that we should have a 32-hour work week. I haven’t heard any updates from Yasafi about whether he’s putting his own money where his mouth is with this latest Regressive get-rich scheme.

Invisible Backhand November 23, 2011 at 10:46 am

I like to call Walmart “The Fundraising Department of The Chinese Communist Party”.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

No one is forcing you to shop there.
Instead we should shop at a store that supports our republic. Could you please compile a list of outlets that do this so that we may shop there?

BZ November 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Woods 1st Law of political economy in action.

Nuke Nemesis November 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I shop there. I enjoy buying the same things for less than what I would spend somewhere else.

Will November 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I actually enjoy shopping anywhere but Wal-Mart, but I am still glad they are in town to draw the prices down and crowds away from where I prefer to shop.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Wait, now you have a problem with American companies racking it in?

Greg G November 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

muirgeo

You need to understand how much of Wal-Mart’s success is determined by, and benefits, consumers especially low income consumers. I used to own a store that sold a lot of high end, American made work boots. We often had customers come in and announce that they wanted American made work boots. I always loved it when that happened because we dominated that part of our local market.

But very often when these customers saw the price, they asked to see something cheaper. When they did that we showed them our imports. We sold our imports at a higher percentage markup than our American made boots because American made footwear was a market niche we were aggressively defending.

Often at this point, the consumer would patiently explain to me that they wanted American made footwear, but they wanted it at the import price. I would then patiently explain to them that, if I sold it at that price, I would soon be out of business and they would be seeing even higher prices on American made footwear. Increasingly, they chose the imports and I adjusted my inventory accordingly.

Those that bought the imports were able to get the same quality for about a third less. I am not convince that made them worse off even though it eventually made me worse off than I would have been if the old system had continued.

If Wal-Mart went away tomorrow, some other retailer would quickly take their place and do the same thing.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

In spite of past disagreements, I have to say that was very level headed and rational.

Re: your closing sentence, not only would that be the likely scenario; but every time I have seen a Walmart open in an undeveloped area, very quickly, sometimes even before the Walmart opens its doors, other retail outlets, fastfood restaurants, and upscale restaurants began building and opening, all within a stone’s throw of the Walmart and all selling the same things that can be found in a Walmart.

Some make it and some do not, but the fault is not of the Walmart, Walmart attracts the people to the area.

Walmart acts as both a magnet and an anchor.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm

When consumers pay lower prices for X, they have more money to spend on Y and Z. Apparently, muirgeo wants all the Y and Z producers to go bankrupt so the X producers can enjoy higher profits.

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 10:34 am

Bravo, Greg!

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 3:19 am

No doubt Greg. And that’s why when they challenge me to out compete Walmart in the current global milieu I would remind them I could do so if only I had access to child labor or slave labor to compete with the now dominant communist laborers. You are explaining a pragmatic approach to working in the markets as they are. I am pointing out an uneven playing field were workers are pitted against workers to the advantage of multinational corporations who can hold a race to the bottom competition between nations to see who will lower their standards the most.

Here is the relevant quote from William Grieder:

The great multinationals are unwilling to face the moral and economic contradictions of their own behavior – producing in low-wage dictatorships and selling to high-wage democracies. Indeed, the striking quality about global enterprises is how easily free-market capitalism puts aside its supposed values in order to do business. The conditions of human freedom do not matter to them so long as the market demand is robust. The absence of freedom, if anything, lends order and efficiency to their operations.

Or as H G. Wellsput it in The Shape of Things to Come

Even men who were engaged in organizing debt-serf cultivation and debt-serf industrialism in the American cotton districts, in the old rubber plantations, and in the factories of India, China, and South Italy, appeared as generous supporters
of and subscribers to the sacred cause of individual liberty.

Greg G November 24, 2011 at 8:12 am

muirgeo

You can certainly make a reasonable argument that many American low and middle class workers are worse off today than they were a generation ago (although that’s probably NOT true for women and African-Americans). It does not follow from that that we would be better off if we had engaged in protectionist policies while the rest of the world went in the direction of free trade.

It is not accurate to say that China is engaged in a race to the bottom with us for lower working standards. The average Chinese worker has seen his living conditions improve immensely in the last generation.

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 10:13 am

Greg,

What bothers me is that it seems that American manufacturers have moved their production facility off-shores to indeed benefit from not only low wages, tax sheltering, lax working and environmental standards but also from the protectionist policies of the Chinese government. We need to address these issues or we seem to be heading down the very road to serfdom. And I wouldn’t blame anyone for not being a little paranoid with China’s massive military build up. I jut don’t think it’s as simple as saying they provide low prices for poor people.

brotio November 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I could do so if only I had access to child labor or slave labor to compete with the now dominant communist laborers.

“If only”! You mean you can’t devise a marketing strategy to convince your fellow Regressives that they should shop your store and pay 35% more for union-made consumer goods? You people are supposedly 99% of America.

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 3:31 am

Greg,

A few years ago we were in Joplin Missouri. We arrived the evening of my wife’s birthday. I told her I needed to run to the store to get something and I was hoping to just pick up a quick cake from the local grocer. I didn’t know the town well but knew the main drags and figured I’d come a cross a grocery store in minutes. I drove and drove and couldn’t find a single grocery store. It was so bad I actually pulled over and asked some one for directions. ( how embarrassing for a guy to do so… I was desperate). The lady I asked thought about it and said ya know all I can think of is the Wal-Mart Supper Center… most of the others have shut down.

And then there are these types of headlines;

Number of people in poverty reaches highest level in 51 years.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2010-09-16-poverty-rate-income-numbers_N.htm

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 3:32 am

And correlating with our increase in poverty;

http://www.futureblind.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Stores.jpg

Related? I think probably so.

ChrisN November 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

Poverty rate includes only pre-tax income and ignores others – including .gov entitlements. Highly inflated for political purposes. A one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year at minimum wage has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

So what’s your point Chris… should we pull all those benefits from them? Should we gut all environmental and worker regulations so our workers will be an equal playing field with the communist Chinese worker.

http://images.travelpod.com/users/sponger42/1.1245247843.shanghai-smog.jpg

ChrisN November 24, 2011 at 10:49 am

My point is giving people an incentive to stay poor is bad public policy. Make it miserable to be poor and most will pursue a more productive life. I don’t think you give folks enough credit.

I would like to see more discussion on how to make the pie larger, not on how to make sure people get a second or third slice.

brotio November 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Number of people in poverty reaches highest level in 51 years.

All of this since the Democrats took Congress and the White House. Amazing.

brotio November 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Good God! The bakeries in Joplin must have really sucked if they can’t compete with WalMart.

Canon City, CO is half the population of Joplin. It not only has a Super WalMart, it has an outstanding local bakery, and two traditional supermarkets which also have bakeries. Canon City is also home to DiNardo’s Sunnyside Market. DiNardo Cider Mill makes the best apple cider, grape, cherry, blackberry, boysenberry, and loganberry juice around. They seem to do alright selling their superior (and more expensive) ciders versus the inferior California-made juices sold at the WalMart up the street.

vidyohs November 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm

LOL! Oh yeah!

Nothing makes it across that break in the brain of our muirduck, Greg G, et. al.!

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

Looney lefties are not stupid per se, nor is it wrong to say that many demonstrate intelligence and sometimes even imagination; but typically they show that evidence in professional fields. However in politics, the economy, and social relations they demonstrate remarkable habitual and historical stupidity. The only explanation for that dichotomy is that they have brains that are broken.

Antipathy towards Walmart or any market that provides quality goods at inexpensive prices presents better then casual evidence of the truth of my theory that looney lefties all have broken brains.

That antipathy based purely on the grounds that the market does so, is even better rationale for showing the broken brained for what they are.

In my mind there is no need for understanding deeper than that. Trying to convince them of the wrongness of their ideas on politics, the economy, and social issues is and always will be fruitless, it is a waste of time.

A rare few manage to heal that break and become individuals, the vast majority will never even make the healing attempt as they refuse to recognize the break. The rational never takes precedence in their brains over the emotional.

Greg G November 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

vidyohs

Not to worry, no one was expecting a deeper understanding from you than your “broken brain theory.”

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

Don’t mistake the shallowness of your thought on that theory as being an attitude of the majority.

You see the theory is not a shallow one at all, and because I said you don’t have to go any deeper is because, as an analogy “the well is drawing good consumable water at that point”.

It is all that is necessary to understand the historical, habitual, perpetual, faithful, and devout stupidity of the looney left. :-)

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

Well, that kumabya moment was fleeting…

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Yeah that’s the way it is. Didn’t even have time to get a brown on my marshmallow.

Fred November 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm

There is the seen and the unseen.
Lefty loons see only the seen.

Greg G November 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Yes, these reconciliations never last. Even so, Happy Thanksgiving to Jon, Muirgeo, Vidyohs, all looney libertarians and the whole Cafe Hayek ecosystem.

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

kyle8 November 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I have no such felicitous thoughts to a left winger. I dislike you and all you stand for, I wish you no better than a life of misery, But since every left winger I ever met was unhappy by nature, that is not a big stretch.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I may be redundant here but those are my sentiments exactly.

Greg G November 24, 2011 at 7:58 am

k8 and vid

Maybe one day I will be happy enough “by nature” to want to send out holiday wishes for “a life of misery” to people I don’t even know.

But for now I am still sticking with a Happy Thanksgiving to you and Vidyohs even though there well may be more clashes to come.

muirgeo November 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

I’m with you Greg, Happy Evacuation Day to all my Cafe Hayek buddies. The day we sent the slim ball Tory’s scurrying from New York city was indeed a great day.

brotio November 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm

It didn’t last long. There’s a whole cadre of “slim ball Tory’s” occupying Zuccotti Park, Boston Common, and trying to burn Oakland to the ground (I had never realized there were so many rich white people in Oakland).

Nuke Nemesis November 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Remember, the Looney Left controls the educational system in this country.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Yes sir, and that ushers in the extreme hatred the Teacher’s Unions have for home schooling or anything that takes kids out of their indoctrination classes.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

Have you ever notice how lefties claim to care about the poor, but they want to close down all the businesses that hire unskilled workers and shutter all the shops that provide lower-income folks with affordable goods.

Fred November 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm

They want to help the poor by making it illegal to be poor.
They figure that if employers are forced to pay a “living wage”, that these unskilled workers will be paid a living wage.
They figure that if they make it difficult to buy cheap goods, that poor people will buy nice stuff with their living wage.
When you point out that the results don’t exactly match the intentions, you will be attacked for opposing their intentions.
Thus the road to hell is paved.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm

If you write a law against it, it will disappear. If you write a law for it, it will happen. The government and men’s designs are omnipotent. That’s just incorrect. People are poor because some people just have jobs that don’t pay so much. It’s not a problem if the left didn’t make it so much of one. Poor people can lead dignified lives as well!

Jon Murphy November 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

One thing that I cannot understand is so controversial is this. You’d think lower prices is something everyone could get behind.

Ameet November 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

If they could, we’d have a mass consensus for allowing the asset prices of houses to adjust to equilibrium (probably lower than at present) without any government intervention.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Leftists only support prices coming down as a result of government price controls. If it’s due to entrepreneurship, competition, and innovation, it’s an exploitation of the working class that must be stopped.

Ted Levy November 23, 2011 at 10:41 am

I think vidyohs’ broken brain theory has something going for it. Sadly, the disease has spread beyond “looney lefties.” Don’t the “I’m for a small, limited government capable of policing the world” and the “I’m for a completely free market; let’s seal the border and lock up drug sellers for life” righties demonstrate the same symptoms?

Don Boudreaux November 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

Yep!

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Ditto that.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Actually my Ditto was hasty.

The righties of whom you speak may demonstrate a bent brain, but not (in my estimation) a broken one like the looney lefties.

There is a basic and deep schism between the two in the most important aspect of life, freedom to provide for one’s self without having a majority part taken from you and given to people to whom you have no relationship and no reasonable concern for.

In the realm of the righties of whom you speak you can still expect to be able to make a living doing what you choose, you can expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor, even grow those fruits.

In the realm of the lefties you won’t………….whatever……either in the current sense or perhaps in the retroactive sense as the looney left drifts into exercising the Precautionary Principle.

I think if you examine your examples above, you might not agree with the policies, I certainly don’t, but as for personal individual destruction of character, and economies, on all levels it doesn’t compare to what Lennin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Che, all accomplished. Nor does it compare to what the current crop of looney lefties want (see OWS ideology), lefties as represented here by our own despicable muirduck, Irritable Bowels, the insane Russian, and by the hustling scum Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Soros, et. al.

Furthermore, I know for a fact that if you do sit down with the righties you cite above, you can penetrate their fog with reason and logic, and have a more than even chance of giving them reason to change their minds. The righties will knee jerk to self interest when it comes to the bottom line.

With the looney left, you ain’t got a prayer, only they can heal their own torn brains. No amount of proof, reason, or logic is going to penetrate over that break in their brains. The looney lefties pretend the self doesn’t exist.

Big huge deep steep chasm between the two, and I know which side of that chasm I am on and where I will remain.

Greg G November 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

No confirmation bias there.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

:-) the well is deep and producing good consumable water; seeing, touching, and using the good clean water is indeed confirmation bias to what is clearly good water.

Loony lefties are just that easy.

Fred November 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm

From http://bastiat.org/en/government.html

Citizens! In all times, two political systems have been in existence, and each may be maintained by good reasons. According to one of them, Government ought to do much, but then it ought to take much. According to the other, this two-fold activity ought to be little felt. We have to choose between these two systems. But as regards the third system, which partakes of both the others, and which consists in exacting everything from Government, without giving it anything, it is chimerical, absurd, childish, contradictory, and dangerous. Those who parade it, for the sake of the pleasure of accusing all governments of weakness, and thus exposing them to your attacks, are only flattering and deceiving you, while they are deceiving themselves.

I see both Republicans and Democrats as falling into that third type, especially Republicans.
Democrats want government to do everything, and want everyone else to pay for it.
Republicans want to cut government, just not that part of government, and don’t want to pay for it.

They’re both crazy.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm

In reference to my comment, forget about the labels democrat and republican and also forget about the so-called leadership, because the so-called leadership will change. What will not change much is the base that each claims to have in the people.

So, let’s talk about the people, the people you run into on the street that can be heard in their speech and writing (really not all that difficult) to demonstrate the looney left collectivist/statist traits, or demonstrate the conservative individualist/capitalist traits through the same medium. These are the ones I speak of, the ones who do not pretend to leadership per se, but do espouse a personal viewpoint on politics, economics, and social issues.

You may too new to have seen it, but I have said here many times and I maintain just as steadfastly today, that only a rare few in America recognize and understand just how intensely they were indoctrinated in socialism as a good thing by the Federally directed school system, especially those born after WWII.

There is this thing called enculturation that happens to each of us and it directs about 95% to 98% of our daily activities, unless you know of it, understand it, and deliberately conquer it through active rejection of the knee jerk. Otherwise, your reactions will be straight out of that enculturation. In essence, others are running your life and you have no clue. Someone wise once said, “All of us play out our grandfather’s script.” From 70 years of observation, I know that to be true in all but an extremely rare minority.

Now look again at what Bastiat said, and maybe you’ll see your closing three penultimate sentences differently to a degree. What you see as democrats and republicans, I see as socialist on the one hand and statists on the other, both have a varying degree of the collectivist in them. However, those who call themselves republicans do at least give lip service to small government land free enterprise as a principle, where you will not even get that concession from those who call themselves democrats.

The one you can talk to, the other you can’t.

Fred November 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm

However, those who call themselves republicans do at least give lip service to small government land free enterprise as a principle, where you will not even get that concession from those who call themselves democrats.

Right. The republicans claim to support the system where government does little and is little felt, but in reality they are the third system in the Bastiat quote.
You can talk small government; but as soon as you get to something that affects them, like their grandmother’s Medicare, or the Military Industrial Complex that employs them, then they want to cut something else.

The democrats claim to support the system where government does much and is also much felt, but in practice they are just as deficit prone as the republicans.

Both of them are deceivers, deceiving themselves and others, as they try to be all things to all people.

One claims to want to pay for it all by soaking the rich, but never does.
The other claims to cut the size and scope of government, but never does.

The end result is more government and more government debt.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

@Fred
“Right. The republicans claim to support the system where government does little and is little felt, but in reality they are the third system in the Bastiat quote.
You can talk small government; but as soon as you get to something that affects them, like their grandmother’s Medicare, or the Military Industrial Complex that employs them, then they want to cut something else.”

My point about enculturation is that those republicans you revile knee jerk into it because of their socialist enculturation, an enculturation they aren’t even aware of, and are likely to reject when they learn of it. Those who identify themselves as socialist/liberal/communist/democrat/regressives will not understand a single thing you say when you try to point out to them that they have been thoroughly indoctrinated/enculturated in socialism, to them it is the natural way to lean on others and never to walk straight up. Only a very rare few will ever reject that socialist enculturation because to them it “feels” right.

Do you see yourself in that Bastiat quote? Just curious. I don’t see myself there. So, while Bastiat is eminently worth studying, do we take him as the final word on the subject even though many exceedingly exciting and momentous years have passed since he wrote, and we still aren’t to the end of the world yet? Is thought over with his death?

kyle8 November 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Yes I agree, I was originally a left winger when I was very ignorant.

The more I learned I became a right winger.

Then I learned some more and I became more libertarian.

Then I learned even more and now I am Libertarian/pragmatist.

Meaning that I have eschewed all ideology and am only guided by a few basic principles such as “the government which governs least governs best” . But I am much more focused on whatever has been proven to work in history than in theory.

So to my way of thinking a right winger has a chance of learning the truth. But a left winger has a much less of a chance, especially if they are already an old person.

muirgeo November 25, 2011 at 12:47 am

“Meaning that I have eschewed all ideology and am only guided by a few basic principles such as “the government which governs least governs best” . kyle8

We’ll your basic principal is dopey because the government that governs the least is anarchy which is just dumb. And here in the real world there is no good correlation with “least governing” and societal outcomes.

So you start off with a basic principle that is stupid…. and from there every thing just gets studier…. good job.

vikingvista November 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Yes. Also are the small government Republicans for world empire. Or the small government Republicans who want to save your Social Security and Medicare.

kyle8 November 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I would want to save social security and medicare only because what would replace them would be a lot worse.

vikingvista November 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I suppose however bad a government program is, an even worse government program is possible.

Josh S November 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I feel the same way about the Fed. Some of these crazies actually think it would be better if the Treasury issued money at will, like they do in third world countries.

vikingvista November 24, 2011 at 11:44 am

It isn’t clear to me that it would be much different.

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Free markets are not a symptom of broken brain syndrome! It takes a ton of brain power, understanding of unintuitive concepts and study to understand and accept their strengths.

nailheadtom November 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

Oddly, in a dynamic world the anti-Walmart crowd seems to believe that its particular marketing paradigm is some sort of endgame. This is probably what the folks around the cracker barrel in the 19th century general store felt about the rise of catalog merchants Montgomery Ward and Sears. Somehow society managed to not only survive the greater options and lower prices of those retailers but see them become marketing relics.

Ryan Vann November 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Walmart food is rather expensive in contrast to other grocery stores, in my experience, especially once you factor in that the quality is pretty awful (produce and meats specifically). Everyday low prices is mostly sloganeering from what I have seen. Then again I live in a town where any price differential would have been long ago dilluted by the local grocery stores being more competitive.

Nuke Nemesis November 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

The produce quality at Wal Mart can be poor. If not, I might never shop at the local super market. I normally buy all natural meats so I buy little meat at Wally World.

But a can of Bush’s Best beans is the same beans no matter where you buy it. Eggs are much cheaper, especially the all-natural eggs. Same with juices and frozen foods.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

:-) how does Walmart make unnatural meat and unnatural eggs? Is unnatural meat and eggs petroleum based or cellulose based?

If you bring in proof of an offer from any competitor of Walmart, sale papers or coupons for instance, Walmart will match it in price.

khodge November 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm

They come from the same place that inorganic foods (i.e. foods that don’t qualify as organic) come from.

vikingvista November 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

“Inorganic” foods? Is that seriously what people call it? And I thought “organic” was a silly label for foods.

vidyohs November 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Whew Now in answer to my questions, that was extremely enlightening.

Saaaaaaay what?

anthonyl November 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I thought all foods contained carbon compounds even the poisoned ones.

Dan J November 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

All-natural meats and eggs? Is there anything other than that? Fake cheese? Yes. But un-natural eggs and meat?

vance armor November 23, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Could Don and Russ please leave Wal-Mart out of any “examples” demonstrating the superiority of free market economics? Please?!?!?! I mean, don’t you guys understand that Wal-Mart paid lobbyists to lobby FOR Obamacare? And the mega-billionaire Alice Walton didn’t do it out of noblesse oblige, although more than a few Democrats and Left-Progressives would believe it to be the case. (Notice how the medieval sentiments of fealty to the lord by the lord’s vassals re-emerges in welfare statism??)

Josh S November 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

Demanding that we only talk about pure examples of ideas means we never talk about examples of our ideas.

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