Posted on | November 24, 2011 | 15 Comments
“Meet a genuine American folk hero cut from the homespun cloth of America’s heartland: Sam Walton, who parlayed a single dime store in a hardscrabble cotton town into Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world.”
— cover blurb for Sam Walton: Made in America
Occupy protesters want shoppers to occupy something besides door-buster sales and crowded mall parking lots on Black Friday. . . .
In Seattle, protesters are carpooling to Wal-Mart stores to protest with other Occupy groups from around Washington state. . . .
Protesters say the movement shouldn’t take away money and seasonal jobs from the working-class majority it says it represents. The corporations, not the shoppers, are the focus of any protests, they say. But organizers hope their actions drive people to reconsider frenzied bargain shopping at national chains and direct their attention to small, locally owned stores.
We know Occupiers are stupid, but the fathomless depth of their ignorance simply amazes me: How do you demonize “corporations” but exempt from your criticism the shoppers whose purchases supply revenue to those businesses? Aren’t the customers and employees — by their voluntary cooperation in the capitalist enterprise — as guilty as the corporate CEO? And why do the Occupy protesters think Wal-Mart is evil, while the local mom-and-pop store is OK? The Associated Press asked some economists about the “shop local” mentality:
Shopping only local neglects economies of scale, job specialization and other pluses that big, multi-state retailers offer, said George Mason University economist Russ Roberts.
“Don’t punish yourself by not shopping where you can get the best deal; that’s foolish,” Roberts said.
And, fair or not, small businesses aren’t necessarily the best employers in terms of wages, benefits, opportunities for advancement and other measures, said John Quinterno, principal at the public policy research firm South by North Strategies in Chapel Hill, N.C.
He calculates that small mom-and-pops, which he defines as businesses with fewer than 10 employees, account for nearly 80% of employers in the U.S., but only about 11% of the jobs.
“Sometimes we romanticize small business — and I say this as a small business owner myself – so that it skews some of our debates about economic and labor policy,” Quinterno said. “It doesn’t mean they aren’t important. It just means that larger businesses tend to create a lot more value-added per job.”
Look: Mom-and-pop businesses have to compete in the marketplace, and the existence of gigantic retailers requires small entrepreneurs to be innovative, to work harder and smarter to find a niche in which they can compete successfully. And in most cases, the giant corporations that Occupiers hate began as tiny local businesses: Sam Walton started out as the owner of one store in Arkansas.
While we’re at it, why should Occupiers focus on Wal-Mart? Why not Sears, Best Buy, Target, Costco, or Dollar General? Aren’t all of those “corporations”? Aren’t they offering Black Friday specials? Aren’t the stockholders and executives of those companies as avidly in search of profits as Wal-Mart? Isn’t it only Wal-Mart’s spectacular success that makes them an especial focus of anti-capitalist rage?
#OCCUPYFAIL: Occupy flash mob fails to impress Walmart workers.“A two minute ‘flash mob’ by members of Occupy’s Santa Ana contingent left some Walmart employees feeling disrespected and confused.”
Why Wal-Mart? Because the Occupiers are ignorant, that’s why. Their arguments against capitalism appeal to the worst emotions — envy and self-pity — of people who fail under the free-enterprise system because they haven’t made the effort to understand the free-enterprise system.
You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see FreedomWorks, Media Research Center, Accuracy in Media or some other conservative group send out groups of activists armed with video cameras and a sack of books: Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics.
Imagine the video footage as the free-market activists ask the Occupiers, “Hey, have you read Basic Economics? . . . Have you ever heard of Thomas Sowell? . . . Well, here, I’ll give you a free copy of this book, by one of America’s most famous black intellectuals . . .”
Now, I’m sure Dr. Sowell might have some books he’d recommend to these Occupier ignoramuses — F.A. Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, and so forth — but you’ve got to ask yourself: How is it that these smelly hippie mobs, whose protests are supposedly motivated by economic hardship, have never heard of one of our nation’s best-known economists? Sowell graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1958 and, at age 81, is still one of the most popular syndicated columnists.
You’ve got to laugh, imagining the Occupod reaction when MRC or AIM crews show up at the Occupier camps, waving signs — “Free Books” and “The Truth About Capitalism” — and then start asking questions: “Hey, here’s a book by Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. Ever heard of Hayek? . . . No? Well, he won the Nobel Prize in economics . . . How about Milton Friedman? That name ring a bell? . . . Here, take a free copy of Capitalism and Freedom . . .”
Hating capitalism is easier than understanding capitalism. Occupy Wall Street is exploiting intellectual laziness. Without sloth, ignorance and envy, they wouldn’t even have a movement. But if the Occupiers want you to protest giant corporations by patronizing small businesses, by all means do so: Shop our Amazon “Black Friday Deals Week” specials!
Perhaps regular readers have noticed my relentless pimping of our Amazon links the past few days. That’s because this blog is, and always has been, all about shameless capitalism. It’s a small business. I’ve long studied and striven to emulate examples of excellence like Sam Walton, Thomas Sowell and Professor Glenn Reynolds.
Am I shamelessly ‘Lanche-baiting? Oh, yes.
But am I also sincere? Oh, hell, yes.
Insty keeps pushing his Amazon sales links, and so I’m doing the same with my customary shamelessness. And I think bloggers should do everything they can to earn every dime they can get. Why should we be paid less than the drones and hacks employed by evil corporations like the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC?
Increase your traffic, expand your readership, enhance your monetization and — above all — do so without shame or apology. Just like Sam Walton, you can do well by doing good, but you will never succeed in a competitive environment by giving a half-assed effort. If you’re not giving your best effort, trying to get better every day, you’re going to lose readers to someone who will. Maybe you have advantages that other people don’t have, and can succeed on the basis of those advantages, but there are very few disadvantages in this world that cannot be overcome by hard work and prayer.
By the time you read this, I’ll have a belly full of turkey and stuffing and other good things Mrs. Other McCain is cooking for our family feast. But I’ll be thanking God for good examples, and the whole time I’m eating, I’ll be thinking of the next answer to that question I ask every day:
Happy Thanksgiving! And please don’t forget to shop our Amazon “Black Friday Deals Week” specials!
UPDATE: Bill Quick says I’m “absolutely wrong” :
The Occupiers are shock troop tools of, among other powers that be, the unions. And which huge corporation is the single greatest target of the unions, and has resisted them most strongly?
Walmart, of course.
True. It’s not every day I shrug off being called “absolutely wrong,” but then again: He’s the guy who named the blogosphere.