Tazreen Fashions

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
bmaz @tomwatson I agree. Of course, if the roles were reversed, you would be screeching like holy hell.
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emptywheel @lpackard I don't pretend Miller is speaking up for principle. It's a way to win Gov for her @DanaHoule
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emptywheel @DanaHoule Miller has an incentive to make something happen. Upton might be made to. @lpackard
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emptywheel @DanaHoule Problem with that is GOP is playing for corrosion controls to start taking effect to avoid laying pipe.
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emptywheel @DanaHoule It may well help long term. But I don't see how it does short term.
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emptywheel @DanaHoule Just trying to figure out quickest most likely way to get Flint burying new pipe. Don't see how Hillary's visit helps short term
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emptywheel @DanaHoule No. I'm saying GOP might do something but are less likely bc now doing so would be a win for Dem POTUS candidate.
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emptywheel @DanaHoule Sure. & I think there's a chance Hillary visit will make it less likely Flint gets $$ to fix pipes in part bc it'd be Keynesian
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JimWhiteGNV Happy Year of the Monkeypuppybaby, everyone!
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emptywheel @DanaHoule Besides, this is not (just) Snyder's governing ideology. It is DeVos'. That's going to take more to give up.
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