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JamesShrugged

A Free Market Defense of Walmart? Not so Fast.

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Your winning the semantics just entirely overlooks that there is a further and worthwhile point, namely, to what extent should Wal-Mart be seen as an example of a moral business?

I haven't addressed whether Walmart is moral because the notion that lobbying the government for favors is immoral is absurd. Just as absurd as the notion that I shouldn't take advantage of public education or the ER.

Like I already pointed out, representatives are elected by voters. As long as voters insist on pushing for a system of government where special interests rule and asking for favors is the only way to keep some of your property and freedom, businesses have no choice except play by those rules.

I applaud Walmart for doing a good enough job of it to keep the unions off its back. They have nothing to be ashamed of for that. The responsibility for the system that exists today falls entirely on the people who make the decision of who represents them: voters. No one else. Not even a little bit.

sNerd says the good outweighs the bad.

Haven't read the whole thread, but that vague platitude doesn't strike me as something sNerd would say.

You haven't done a very good job reproducing what I said. Are you sure you're getting this right?

Edited by Nicky

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You haven't done a very good job reproducing what I said. Are you sure you're getting this right?

Or, you didn't do a very good job of conveying what you wanted to. I get your point now that you explained. I was only summarizing what I understood.

 

Sure, there are rules that lead to needing lobbyists, but it's different to evaluate who does it for malicious motive. I don't have more to say, I prefer reading threads like this. I think you put wayyyyyyyyy too much responsibility on voters.

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Or, you didn't do a very good job of conveying what you wanted to. I get your point now that you explained. I was only summarizing what I understood.

I wrote two sentences, both in reference to how a democratic system works. There is no way for an able minded person to understand, from that, what you "understood".

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I haven't addressed whether Walmart is moral because the notion that lobbying the government for favors is immoral is absurd. Just as absurd as the notion that I shouldn't take advantage of public education or the ER.

I think there is a big difference between accepting that lobbying exists or attempting to survive in the system and openly pushing/supporting new controls. Just like there's a difference between taking social security and advocating for more social security.

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I think there is a big difference between accepting that lobbying exists or attempting to survive in the system and openly pushing/supporting new controls.

Is that what moral men should be reduced to, in your view? Attempting to survive? Why?

Why is it OK to use lobbying to survive, but not to thrive?

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Is that what moral men should be reduced to, in your view? Attempting to survive? Why?

 

Well obviously I don't think that's what they should be reduced to. They should be left free.

 

 

Why is it OK to use lobbying to survive, but not to thrive?

 

Because lobbying is evil. It's OK to do it if your survival requires it but force is not the method by which a moral man should attempt to gain values.

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Well obviously I don't think that's what they should be reduced to. They should be left free.

Not an option. We're talking about today's world, in which voters are imposing a system of government that tightly controls economic activity.

Do you think productive men, like the owners of Walmart, should allow their Ethics to reduce them to only surviving in this system? And do you mean "surviving" literally, or are you using it as hyperbole?

Because lobbying is evil. It's OK to do it if your survival requires it

Again, what do you mean? Is it OK for the owners of Walmart to lobby the government for a piece of bread every day, or do you mean that it's OK for them to lobby it for the "survival" of their business? Or do you mean "surviving" the way the $15/hour minimum wage people mean it?

 

but force is not the method by which a moral man should attempt to gain values.

What about keeping values? Would it be OK for Walmart to use force to keep values? Edited by Nicky

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I didn't mean reduced by society, I meant reduced by the moral values we're discussing. Do you think productive men, like the owners of Walmart, should limit themselves only to surviving?

 

With respect to force, yes. More precisely stated, I think that Walmart should use force only to the extent that the use of force against Walmart necessitates Walmart's use of it.

 

Walmart is not completely controlled. If we lived in a system where Walmart's creation of values could only be achieved through coercive means, the whole discussion is moot. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about a system where Walmart has to be complicit in government force to some extent because of the system it exists in. And to the extent it's necessary is the extent to which it's OK. That doesn't mean it's OK to lobby for as much as you can get.

 

I think Rand's opinion of a very similar issue is relevant: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

 

 

What about keeping values? Would it be OK for Walmart to use force to keep values?

 

Yes, if those values are at risk because of force used against Walmart.

 

Now, excuse me if I've misunderstood your position, but it sounds like you're arguing that Walmart should lobby for everything it can get. Is that what you're saying?

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Because lobbying is evil. It's OK to do it if your survival requires it but force is not the method by which a moral man should attempt to gain values.

 

What is lobbying specifically?  I think I misunderstand what you mean by it.  

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With respect to force, yes. More precisely stated, I think that Walmart should use force only to the extent that the use of force against Walmart necessitates Walmart's use of it.

That doesn't mean anything. Necessitates towards what end?

I think Rand's opinion of a very similar issue is relevant: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

You haven't expressed an opinion. What you wrote above is too vague to have any meaning. You never said what Walmart should and shouldn't be allowed to rely on lobbying for.

Yes, if those values are at risk because of force used against Walmart.

Why the "if"? This is not a hypothetical scenario we are discussing. Walmart is an actual business, with actual force being used against it, and actual money being taken from it.

So, with that out of the way, do you think Walmart has the right to rely on government force to replenish its profits as much as possible?

Now, excuse me if I've misunderstood your position, but it sounds like you're arguing that Walmart should lobby for everything it can get. Is that what you're saying?

Yes, for as long as the US is a democracy, and voters use their power to victimize businesses, I think businesses should use the means available to them to take back as much of the loot being taken from them as they can.

And yes, in this particular case, that means exactly that Walmart should lobby for everything it can get. There's no point in discussing a limit on how much Walmart should get back, because, as long as Walmart remains a productive business, it will never be able to get back as much as it gives up. That's just the nature of democracy: the largest group always gets a bigger share of the loot. And businessmen will never be the largest group.

Edited by Nicky

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What is lobbying specifically?  I think I misunderstand what you mean by it.  

 

Ah, good point. This could be a spot of confusion. When I say lobbying I mean, the act of advocating for the use of government force in your favor.

 

 

That doesn't mean anything. Necessitates towards what end?

 

The end goal is to keep/protect the values that are taken by government or under threat by government.

 

 

Yes, for as long as the US is a democracy, and voters use their power to victimize businesses, I think businesses should use the means available to them to take back as much of the loot being taken from them as they can.

And yes, in this particular case, that means exactly that Walmart should lobby for everything it can get.

 

Well herein lies the issue I guess. I too agree with your general principle that if a company is being looted they should lobby to get their money back. But then you seem to apply the principle without regard for context. Lobbying goes far beyond an attempt to get back tax dollars. Lobbying involves asking for special privileges, forcibly stopping competitors, etc. Do you think that's all OK for Walmart to do too because it's taxed?

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Even today, Walmart's two greatest strengths are size and superb logistics. The size gives them the leverage to get low-price merchandise. For instance, Walmart might buy another chain and find that that chain is buying low-price adult jeans for $12 each and find it impossible to get anything lower; but, Walmart can talk to the supplier and say "instead of 100,000 jeans, what price will you give us if we buy a million". Suddenly the jeans cost $10 each and the bulk of the lower cost is passed on to the Walmart customer. On logistics, Walmart has pioneered all sorts of techniques and technology, from RFID to cross-docking.

James's notion that Walmart pushed out its competitors because of eminent domain and minimum wage laws is just fiction. James clearly has little understanding of Walmart's business, only about these bad things they do. As for roads and healthcare, again he simply splashes down mid-stream. These things help and hurt Walmart, but the key is how they help or hurt relative to the competition. Again, due to scale, Walmart actually has a lower per-capita and per $-of-sales usage of all these services, just as it has lower unit-costs across the board.

These protests against business put the cart before the horse. The Occupy Wall Street crowd sincerely think business causes all sorts of problems. The irony is that they themselves are the ones that cause it. Specifically, people like them, who complained and protested against some other business in a previous generation, thus empowering politicians and increasingly making businesses pay to play.

 

Agreed.  I realized after rereading my post that in my attempt to dispute how Wal-Mart got to where they are at I could be interpreted as saying they do business immorally now.  True, they have changed their business strategy but so does any rational business (as any individual would) adapt to circumstances. 

 

This is all besides the point I just realized.  If James wants to wag a finger at anyone he can blame the customers that vote with their dollars every day.  The episode of South Park on Wal-Mart nailed it - The customers that approve of it and vote by shopping there are the "heart (sanction) of Wal-Mart".  It's part of a widening trend where we ignore the free will of those involved. 

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On the "biggest tax bill" point, Walmart is substantially correct. I'm willing to bet there's an interpretation of "biggest taxpayer" under which they're exactly accurate (e.g. if one includes property taxes or something like that); but, it's pointless arguing about whether one is the top taxpayer or the 25th... in either case, you're paying money that should never be taken from you. The idea of having companies pay taxes, and then taxing shareholders again on any profit they make from owning shares in that company is a double-taxation from which small business owners are typically exempt.

 

The idea that Walmart costs taxpayers money because many of its workers take welfare comes with a statist assumption. If they didn't work for Walmart, they'd either be fully on welfare, or they'd work for someone else and take a part from welfare. Voters should blame themselves for the welfare they've voted in. if voters create a rule that allows people to work and still collect welfare, they should not turn around and blame the employer for laws that they -- the voters -- championed.

 

Do the leftists want Walmart to raise wages to a point where no workers can collect welfare? What do they expect to happen? Do they seriously think Walmart shareholders will pay for this in the long run by forsaking profits? Unfortunately, the ethics that is omnipresent in the world means that Walmart and other businesses buy into most of the opposition's morality. So, for instance, Ford motor company keeps alive the myth that Henry Ford's $5/day wage was good economics because it enabled his employees to buy cars! With defenses like this, and tirades from people who call themselves libertarian, who needs enemies.

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Do the leftists want Walmart to raise wages to a point where no workers can collect welfare?

 

I don't really consider myself a leftist, but I think this was directed at me, so I'll answer: No, what I want is for the government restrictions that deny people opportunitys in business start up, self-employment and cottage industry to be abolished. It is those restrictions that create an artificial surplus of labor which leads to these terms of employment becoming viable.

 

Tucker talks about this when he advocates the abolition of the central bank:

"This facility of acquiring capital will give an unheard of impetus to business, and consequently create an unprecedented demand for labor, – a demand which will always be in excess of the supply, directly to the contrary of the present condition of the labor market. Then will be seen an exemplification of the words of Richard Cobden that, when two laborers are after one employer, wages fall, but when two employers are after one laborer, wages rise. Labor will then be in a position to dictate its wages, and will thus secure its natural wage, its entire product."

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