27 March 2008

Wal-Mart's Got the (Chicago style) Blues

Here's a good Wal-Mart story from the Chicago Tribune. Seems there's already a Wal-Mart in Chicago, and the bastards want to open up another one! As if 1 Wal-Mart per 3 million people isn't enough. Fortunately the city of Chicago isn't having any of it, and is refusing Wal-Mart permits to open up a new store. Because the empty lot filled with trash is better than the millions in sales taxes they would receive, and there's no good reason to give citizens more opportunity for low-cost shopping.

Oops, did I blow my cover with that last sentence? Seems the whole thing is just the Chicago city government kowtowing to the labor unions. You know, the ones who think economic growth comes from paying more for goods and services. Or, to paraphrase Bastiat, the ones who think that if we blindfolded everyone and tied their right arms behind their backs economic growth would skyrocket, because obviously scarcity and costliness are most desirable. Well, they are, if you're the producers--whether of Gucci handbags or of labor. Just not so much if you're the consumers. But who cares about them anyway? Certainly not Chicago.

Several years ago, a late night hailstorm punched a small hole in my skylight. With water pouring into my house, running down the kitchen wall and into the cheap pressboard cabinets, I needed a tarp to cover things up, until I could see where to fix it, ropes to hold down the tarp, and a ladder to get on the damn roof, none of which I had. Now where, in a town of 20,000, do you get that after midnight?

Ideally, no place, I guess, because my only option was Wal-Mart. The bastards.


James K said...

Not much to add to this, just well done.

James Hanley said...

Thank you.

Scott Hanley said...

Hmmm ... thesis: Americans' belief that we could invade and rebuild Iraq at almost no cost is a reflection of our Wal-Mart culture, in which low cost consistently trumps quality.

Bet someone would publish it.

James Hanley said...

" Wal-Mart culture, in which low cost consistently trumps quality"

Low cost does not consistently trump quality. It's about the relationship between cost and quality.

For one thing, Wal-Mart sells the same televisions (for example) as other stores, but for less. Paying more elsewhere doesn't always buy more quality.

For another, sometimes a lower price for lower quality is wholly rational. After all, I know you don't drive a Mercedes, even though it's a higher-quality car than yours. But that doesn't mean you'd be more rational if you did buy a Mercedes.

I think a better thesis is that people are war-mongering bastards, who also lack the ability to accurately estimate costs for something like a war, so it's easy to fool them into supporting stupid foreign adventurism.

Dean said...

"After all, I know you don't drive a Mercedes, even though it's a higher-quality car than yours."
You are conflating luxury and quality here. While luxury models are often higher quality that is not always the case. And an economy car can have more quality than a luxury car. For example, the Honda Civic is often near the top of rankings for quality and reliability.

James Hanley said...

True--that's why I used Mercedes, instead of Ferrari. Because my understanding (weak at best, when it comes to luxury cars) is that it is high quality.

But if you knew Scott, you'd know that for him, even buying a new Honda could be irrational.

Not to criticize your comment, though. You're quite right--and I knew I was risking that very criticism.