American Proscenium

Anarcho-Tyranny Versus...Walmart?

Everyone hates Walmart nowadays.  Environmental groups protest the company’s “greenwashing,” numerous violations of the Clean Water Act, and contribution to suburban sprawl.  Traditionalists detest Walmart’s displacement of small, family-owned businesses with big-box stores that serve as little more than cash drop boxes for the Bentonville, Arkansas, mother ship.  Organized labor, as expected, objects to the company’s union-busting and illegal compensation practices.  In 2000 the company paid $50 million to resolve an “off-the-clock lawsuit” that covered 69,000 workers in Colorado, while in 2007 it forked over more than $33 million for violating overtime rules.  But the affections of one group—global consumers—counteract all these objections.  Each dollar spent at Walmart is a vote in favor of the retailer’s continued existence.  And the votes keep coming.  Total sales for the fiscal year that ended on January 31 amounted to $444 billion, up 6 percent over fiscal-year 2011, a year in which U.S. real GDP grew a paltry 1.7 percent.  Complain all you want: Walmart isn’t going away.

Now that Walmart’s stores have reached saturation levels in rural and suburban America, the company has opted to mimic what Edward Abbey defined as the ideology of the cancer cell.  “Growth for the...

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