NYT OP-ED #2 Wal-Mart

Also on today's New York Times op-ed page is a piece by Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor at Harvard, and Ken Mark, a consultant, on research they've done on the effects of Wal-Mart on society and the economy.

We've had great debate on this site about Wal-Mart before. This article says that Wal-Mart benefits the rural poor in significant ways by bringing low prices to them. They show that Wal-Mart brings 8% price decrease to rural areas, and that their stores are disproportionately located in the country's poorest zip codes. It also makes the claim, discussed here a number of months ago, that Wal-Mart's customers benefit from their lower prices more than their shareholders do.

They say that "the debate around Wal-Mart isn't really about a Marxist conflict between capital and labor. Instead it is a conflict pitting consumers and efficiency-oriented intermediaries like Wal-Mart against a combination of labor unions, traditional retailers and community groups. Particularly in retailing, American policies favor consumers and offer fewer protections to other interests than elsewhere in the world. Is such pro-consumerism a good thing?"

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