Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wal-Mart gets some good press, finally!

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor, Ozarks Almanac

A New York Post writer this week reported his trip undercover as a Wal-Mart employee. I heard about it on the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Surprise, surprise, surprise, the writer likes Wal-Mart! Here's an excerpt:

You have to wonder, then, why the store has such a terrible reputation, and I have to tell you that so far as I can determine, trade unions have done most of the mudslinging. Web sites that serve as a source for negative stories are often affiliated with unions., for instance, is partnered with the Service Employees International Union; is entirely owned by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. For years, now, they've campaigned against Wal-Mart, for reasons that may have more to do with money than compassion for the working poor. If more than one million Wal-Mart employees in the United States could be induced to join a union, by my calculation they'd be compelled to pay more than half-billion dollars each year in dues.

Anti-growth activists are the other primary source of anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. In the town where I worked, I was told that activists even opposed a new Barnes & Noble because it was "too big." If they're offended by a large bookstore, you can imagine how they feel about a discount retailer.

The argument, of course, is that smaller enterprises cannot compete. My outlook on this is hardcore: I think that many of the "mom-and-pop" stores so beloved by activists don't deserve to remain in business.

I'm a big fan of Wal-Mart. It's an Ozarks-based company founded by a man who believed in customer service and low prices for working people.

City folks and those here in Rolla who fancy themselves to be more sophisticated than they really are look down their noses at Wal-Mart and those of us who shop there. They say that the big-box store has destroyed the business districts of towns across the country.

That's a bunch of baloney. There are lots of reasons for the demise of downtowns, the No. 1 culprits, though, are improved highways and reliable transportation. The truth is: those same people in Rolla who complain about Wal-Mart get into their motor cars every week or so and head off to St. Louis to go shopping.

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