Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wal-Mart

Dear Letters Editor:
In her February 22 letter, Shelby Stocks repeats the standard error regarding Wal-Mart and the Market; the belief that Wal-Mart dictates what items are produced and where they are produced, and at what price they are sold. This error is one of the first steps down the road toward increasing government interventions. F.A. Hayek, Nobel Laureate in Economics, recognized this phenomenon in his classic Road to Serfdom.

The reality is this: Absent government compulsion, neither Wal-Mart, nor any other business for that matter, can coerce the consumer into purchasing items that are not desired. All successful businesses such as Wal-Mart provide the goods and services at a price and quality that the consumer wants. It's the consumer that captains the market. Wal-Mart will find itself out-of-business as soon as it stop satisfying the wants of it's customers.

In addition, Wal-Mart cannot coerce anyone to work at it's stores. People work there because it beats the next alternative.

Stocks' real issue is not with Wal-Mart; her issue is with those of us who shop at Wal-Mart. She simply wants to stop us from shopping there. Her choices are this: use her rhetorical skills to convince us to shop elsewhere, or, use government to achieve her goal. Fox obviously opts for the government approach.

Stocks and Robyn Blumner have every right to open a store that meets their definition of "patriotic," though they never sufficiently define their use of that term. Despite implying that they are more patriotic than shoppers at Wal-Mart, Stocks and Blumner have no qualms with using the coercive force of government to close any business that doesn't meet the Stocks/Blumner definition of patriotic. Sounds more Soviet than Yankee Doodle.

I suggest that Stocks open her "patriotic" store in Delaware and allow the consumer to choose where to shop. If Stocks is successful in identifying the unmet desires of the consumer, she will find herself the operator of a prosperous business and next target of other anti-market forces.

Or, maybe I am wrong. Maybe, just maybe, Stocks simply does not want commercial development in her area. If that's the case, state it. Just don't claim to be a do-gooder and attack the free market because of your own situation.

Jim Fedako

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