Bangladeshi Garment Fire

Bangladeshi Garment Fire: Downstream Effect of a WalMart Economy?

One of the things hot on the nets yesterday was Peter Suderman’s pushback against the anti-WalMart action that has been progressing over the last week, culminating in organized protests at numerous stores across the country on Black Friday. Even Alan Grayson got in on the WalMart Thanksgiving protest mix.

But Suderman, loosing followup thoughts after an appearance regarding the subject on Up With Chris Hayes caused a storm. Here is a Storify with all 17 of Suderman’s Tweet thoughts. Suderman, who is a Libertarian and certainly no progressive, nevertheless makes some pretty cogent arguments, and the real gist can be summed up in just a few of the Tweets:

So the benefits of Walmart’s substantially lower prices to the lowest earning cohort are huge, especially on food.
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Obama adviser Jason Furman has estimated the welfare boost of Walmart’s low food prices alone is about $50b a year.
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Paying Walmart’s workers more would mean the money has to come from somewhere. But where?
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Raise prices to pay for increased wages and you cut into the store’s huge low-price benefits for the poor. It’s regressive.

Suderman goes on to note that WalMart workers are effectively within the norm for their business sector as to pay and benefits.

My purpose here is not to get into a who is right and who is wrong, the protesters or Suderman, I actually think there is relative merit to both sides and will leave resolution of that discussion for others.

My point is that the discussion is bigger than than simply the plight of the WalMart retail workers in the US. WalMart is such a huge buyer and seller that it is the avatar of modern low cost retailing and what it does has reverberations not just in the US life and economy, but that of the world. Ezra Klein came close to going there in a reponse piece to Suderman’s take:

But Wal-Mart’s effect on its own employees pales in comparison to its effect on its supply chain’s workers, and its competitors’ workers. As Barry Lynn argued in his Harper’s essay “Breaking the Chain,” and as Charles Fishman demonstrated in his book “The Wal-Mart Effect,” the often unacknowledged consequence of Wal-Mart is that it has reshaped a huge swath of the American, and perhaps even the global, economy.

Not “perhaps” the global economy Ezra, definitively the global economy. WalMart sets the tone for high volume Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @banditelli In a true socialist society the govt would pay workers $20/hr to make fresh tortillas. @ZaidJilani
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JimWhiteGNV @cocktailhag Hey, I'll have you know that I went to a basketball camp at that fine institution. Stole a shirt from them...
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JimWhiteGNV RT @raynetoday: This is fundamentally unAmerican. The U.S. was founded on political dissent. https://t.co/MuM7d6qMMJ
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emptywheel @ZaidJilani Don't forget the corn is already subsidized w/ethanol policy.
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emptywheel John Mara is sick of DeflateGate and so this nothing-burger pretending NFL are being reasonable shows in Newsday? http://t.co/gjduYapeRG
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emptywheel @jilliancyork You should check it out.
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emptywheel @jilliancyork Not sure if you know Dayen's work but it's actually as closely tied to policy as anyone I know.
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emptywheel Problem w/local stations is they don't guarantee you ManningLemonSuckingFace where NFL would be sure to capture it.
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emptywheel DAMNIT. Tebow can't even throw an effective interception.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @kirkmurphy: Noooo! “@latimes: Vin #Scully says next year is probably his last as voice of the #Dodgers http://t.co/rRfYKzDidL http://t.…
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August 2015
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