In Defense of Wal-Mart


Recently, there has been a lot of debate around Wal-Mart’s plans to open stores in Milwaukie, Gresham and Cedar Mill. Many are worried that a Wal-Mart would hurt the local economy, and are attempting to block the company’s plans. However, this does a disservice to the communities.

As a recent New York Times article points out, instead of slicing up the “economic pie” in a way that favors one group over another, Wal-Mart makes the pie bigger. A study from the McKinsey Global Institute found that Wal-Mart was indirectly responsible for two-thirds of America’s increase in retail productivity from 1995 through 2000.

Wal-Mart also saves customers money by offering prices 5 to 8 percent lower than competitors. This stimulates local competition, and saves American consumers over $16 billion every year.

Most of those who condemn Wal-Mart for exploiting employees have never worked for Wal-Mart themselves. Instead, many are affiliated with labor unions, and are interested in decreasing Wal-Mart’s competitive edge as a non-union employer. In fact, the leading anti-Wal-Mart website, “Wake-Up Wal-Mart,” is bankrolled by organized labor.

Local businesses shouldn’t exist in a competitive vacuum. The three new Wal-Marts will provide around 600 new jobs, and at a time when Oregon is struggling with unemployment, new businesses should be welcomed.

Bruce Smith is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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