Peter Suderman

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

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bmaz @Honeygirl_Music Hey, it's not me, but Scotty gonna have to talk Liz into showing up. She runs this show here. I am just a passenger....
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 Yep, something like that. Back to my turnout point. @vandebum
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 And unless my #s are fucked, more people voted today than in 2011 mayoral. @vandebum @VanAndelArena
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 Sort of what I'm saying: turnout sucked, actual win total for Bliss not far behind Heartwell '11 @vandebum @VanAndelArena
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 My VERY rough numbers based on GRP's numbers is 21,000 (Bliss' 36% margin = 7,000) @vandebum @VanAndelArena
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emptywheel @vandebum Technically, didn't more people vote than capacity of @VanAndelArena (tho not by all that much)?
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 Did you at least have Gita Pita to reward yourself?
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emptywheel I hope someone will correct my numbers, but Heartwell won, in November 2011, w/14,131 votes. Bliss won today, in August primary, w/~13,200?
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emptywheel @sbagen Mayoral election in 2011 (in November) had fewer than 18,000 votes cast.
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emptywheel @sbagen So 23,300 people said they wanted this election, 21,000 than that participated in it.
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emptywheel .@sbagen The term limits referendum last Nov which created this election (even year, regular election day) had fewer than 50,000 voters.
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emptywheel @sbagen It was a primary qua general tho. Hard to argue 66% in primary doesn't merit general win.
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