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The war on Wal-Mart

“I know what’s better for you than you, and I’m going to use the power of law to make sure you don’t do something stupid.”

Whether it’s a smoking ban (you’re too stupid to decide where to eat dinner), Social Security (you’re too stupid to plan for your own retirement) or any number of other issues, there’s a lot of that attitude going around.

Another expression of that is the battle against Wal-Mart, as “community activists,” backed by labor unions that don’t like a non-union shop opening up in their market, worry about the implications of a new WallyWorld down the street. “Oh sure,” they may say, “you’ll have lower prices. But you’ll suffer.”

In other words, you’re too stupid to judge matters for yourself. Government must step in to deny Wal-Mart the opportunity to open a new store.

(I should say here that not everything the company does is admirable.)

I’m reminded of all this when I go through the archives of drafts I have never finished, and come across an article by George F. Will. He notes the benefits of Wal-Mart to individuals and the economy (money saved, productivity enhanced, jobs offered, etc.)

He contrasts these benefits of the company with the stubborn attitude of the city council of Chicago, which drove the retailer–and its tax revenues–to a suburb. The people who shop at the new store? City residents.

Will closes with a swipe at the political attitude of superiority:

Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America’s political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce — yes, announce — that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by … liberals.

I’d add that conservatives can be guilty of this attitude as well.

Finally, for more on Wal-Mart as a political punching back and economic force, I’d recommend a series of interviews conducted on The Box Program, which originates in Pennsylvania.