Ezra Klein

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.
Obama adviser Jason Furman has estimated the welfare boost of Walmart’s low food prices alone is about $50b a year.
Paying Walmart’s workers more would mean the money has to come from somewhere. But where?
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 This is great: The Human Impulse to Live Beyond the Law https://t.co/6IUs8BTfu6
emptywheel Your government really spent 11 years trying to hide "s"es showing it asks for phone numbers, plural, using NSLs. https://t.co/NbhB4myYna
emptywheel Among other things, Govt redacted passage pointing out even "dim-witted" terrorist could figure out redactions. https://t.co/NbhB4myYna
emptywheel FBI Redacted Passages Showing Judge Mocking Its Stupid Claims https://t.co/NbhB4myYna Where is EO does it permit hiding mockery?
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bmaz Not positive I completely agree w/the suggestion (I think QI ought be severely restricted, but this is fascinating https://t.co/APziDlwUBv
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bmaz @_JGR Now, I am NOT saying I think that should work here, but with a cop, I think you have a spitting chance with a good expert.
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