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April 07, 2004



What's to be happy about? That poor and working class residents of Inglewood will have to spend more money they don't have to shop at more expensive stores they can't afford?


They can be happy that more jobs won't be sucked out of their community (statistics show that when a Wal-Mart opens there is actually a net loss of jobs in that community). They can be happy that they won't be extorted, exploited, and woefully mistreated at the hands of one of the least ethical entities ever known to humankind. And they can be thrilled at showing the world that a David can still beat a Goliath. See, it's a Biblical victory! ;-)



Statistics also show that 9 out of 10 references to (unnamed) statistics supposedly showing X are false. As to proving that a group of demagogues are capable of persuading poorly educated voters to vote against their own interests, I think you may have the roles of David and Goliath backward. Goliath won this round, hands down.


Please, XRLQ. Wal-Mart as David? And mostly non-white voters in Inglewood as poorly-educated dupes of Goliath unions? You can do better than that, and mind that you don't get too close to overt racism, my friend.


Oh, "racism" my [mascot of Democratic Party]. Inglewood residents, as a group, are generally not that well educated. That's a fact. Poorly educated people are, as a group, easily duped. That too is a fact. It has absolutely nothing with race.

I agree that the David v. Goliath analogy is flawed, which is why I wasn't the one to use it in the first place. I'll grant you that any company as large as Wal-Mart makes for a lousy David. On the other hand, big labor, whose MO is to make its own members a little richer and its bosses a lot richer by making everyone else a little poorer, often through thug tactics, makes an excellent Goliath.

Perhaps the better analogy is Goliath vs. Goliath, or more specifically, Union Goliath vs. Business Goliath. Neither Goliath is particularly interested in promoting the general good, so the question of who is the "good" or "bad" Goliath depends entirely on which one has interests more closely aligned with your own. If you are a highly-compensated union boss or a somewhat overpaid union worker, then Union Goliath is definitely your man. If you're anyone else, e.g., management, excellent workers who would qualify for better pay on a merit basis, or anyone else in the area who needs some place to shop, Business Goliath is.


I withdraw the race card.

So what's with all these over-educated, largely white liberals (self-included) who vote for folks like Kucinich and Nader? Are we also "duped"? Or are we "dupers"? (Not a word, I suspect, we can get away with.)

And since you are so precise on statistics, how do you define "overpaid"?

Little Miss Attila

I understand smaller, wealthier communities rejecting Wal-Marts--depending on the size of the Wal-Mart. I have a harder time understanding larger cities like Oakland and Inglewood doing it, when it might genuinely help people, and wouldn't be an eyesore. (I mean, I know to some people a Wal-Mart always is, but a lot of those same people also shop at places like Costco.)

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about the Super Wal-Mart concept, since that was behind the supermarket strike here that was so disruptive to so many lives for so many months. But a lot of the objections I see to Wal-Marts have to do with the fact that they hire part-time workers, who therefore don't get the same benefits as full-time workers. For a lot of mothers, however, part-time work is the only realistic option without taking too many hours away from home and family. The availability of these jobs can make a difference in the quality of life for working-class people, and benefits should not be a pivotal issue for what are largely second-income jobs.

There's also the fact that the availability of merchandise people want and need at lower prices helps a lot of people who are on very tight budgets.


At some level, I think all liberals are dupes. Absent some form of dupery, why would well-meaning, well-educated people support so many well intentioned, but poorly thought out ideas? However, liberalism generally is a different brand of "dupery" from what I think happened in Inglewood yesterday. I don't think the average Inglewood voter fully appreciated the fact that he was voting for himself to pay more for groceries so that a few clerks with less education and skills could make more money thn he does. I think he was more interested in "sticking it to The Man," which was ultimately supposed to benefit himself, somehow.

As to pricing issues, I don't think there is such a thing as an absolutely "right" or "wrong" price, only prices the market will bear vs. prices that work only when someone's thumb is on the scale. By that definition, anyone who, as a result of union thuggery (legal or otherwise), is paid more than he could earn on the open market is "overpaid," while anyone who gets paid less as a result of the same is "underpaid." To the extent that the net effect of such thuggery increases the cost of doing business, merchandise ends up being "overpriced," and stocks, "undervalued."

Bill Ekhardt

As to the surgical article, I think you should expand it and publish it. I published it on my blog. ;-)


Thanks, Bill!

And XRLQ -- "underpaid" and "overpaid" are terms that are mainly about justice, I think. "Underpaid" means an insufficient income to support oneself and one's family; overpaid tends to refer to those who benefit from the labor of the underpaid. Simplistic? Perhaps. But it's gospel economics as I was taught them.

The Angry Clam

Obviously, you were taught by a marxist (not as a perjorative).

Wages in economics are the same as everything else- the price of a good, in that case, labor.

Thus, the proper wage, absent distortion, is not what the person needs, but how valuable their abilities are. That's why, without the grocery store unions, those checkers would make $3 a hour- the strike demonstrated that any scumbag off the street could do the same job, often better.


"Obviously, you were taught by a marxist (not as a perjorative)."

It is, though, if you judge Marxism according to the results it has produced throughout the world, as opposed to the ideals its adherents espouse.


True. But true Marxist ideals don't even work with idealists, whereas true Christian ideals have produced and are producing much great good. (Viz: encouragement of art and science, Abolition of slavery, feeding poor, Feminism, urban renewal, reform of the penal code, religious toleration, etc. I could go on. All of these spring directly from the ideals of Christianity, in one form or other)


And here's to a fusion of Marxism and Christianity, which is why I have been a Christian Socialist all these years!


The effects of Christianity on humanity have been a mixed bag; one could argue it's done as much to discourage the arts and the sciences (especially the sciences) as it has to encourage them. Feminism? Ha! See Paul's bit on women not only submitting to their husbands, but also wearing veils in church on the theory that woman:man::church:Christ. It doesn't get much more sexist than that. Even slavery isn't condemned by the Bible, which was used rhetorically by both sides of the Civil War. But it has done a lot of good in the world, as well, particularly the Protestant variety.

By contrast, the impact of Marxism on the world has been consistently bad. The only inconsistency is one of degree. Among democratic countries, its impacts on the economy range from pretty bad (most of Europe), to worse (Sweden). Among non-democratic countries, it has treated us to most, though not all, of the harshest and most despotic regimes of 20th Century (Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceaucescu, and too many others to count). Even Adolf Hitler's National Socialists and Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party cannot be fully divorced from Marx-inspired socialism.

Given its abysmal track record, I say that if Marxism is to be "fused" with anything, let's fuse it together with slavery, imperialsm, manifest destiny, Nazism, feudalism, the divine right of kings, and all those other really bad ideas that people learn about in history books, but no one seriously considers implementing today.


A. What is so awful about Sweden? Volvos and Saabs manage to work quite well, produced in a socialist environment.

B. My friend John will be VERY insulted that you included the divine right of kings in your list.


Quite right, Hugo. In case you don't know, Her Majesty is still Queen "by the grace of God", not "by election" or "By appointment of the people" or anything sick-making like that. The fact that Paul proscribed slave-trading as a vice and offered practical adivce on the treatment of slaves. Christianity was often called "a religion of slaves". Slavery was wiped out in Europe by Charlemagne, under the tutelage of the Pope. The English slave trade was first condemned by the Bishop of Gloucester in 1142.
British slavery was abolished in 1809 by William Wilberforce and Edmund Burke, two devout Evangelical Anglicans. They were opposed by a coalition of West India planters and secularists like Lord Melbourne, who said "We have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed any play in public life". Sound familiar? American slavery was opposed by large numbers of Evangelicals, notably in New England. Henry Ward Beecher was so prolific in raising money for Abolition in Kansas, they named a brigade after him. As for feminism, it is emphatically a Christian concept. Christians allowed women to preach in the early Church. Christians started the first programmes to look after widows and orphans. St. Bernard declared that not only did women have reason, that they ought to be taught to read. Puritans not only advocated women reading for themselves, but also floated the idea of university educations for women, and allowed them to hold property. Quakers and Methodists allowed women equality long before it was fashionable. The first meeting of the American Women's Movement, in Seneca Falls NY, was in a Wesleyan Church, with the full support of the denomination. Kate Shepherd (right here in NZ) was the first person to push through women's suffrage (1893). Her organisation was called the "Women's Christian Temperance Union". General Booth led the Salvation Army in marches and petitions against prostitution, and for the raising of the Age of Consent, something he succeeded in. These are not isolated examples, but part of a consistent counter-cultural trend. It's (It hurts to write this) a "progressive" march motivated by the full appreciation of the value of people, each unique and created by God. Islam doesn't have that. Marxism doesn't have that. Secularism doesn't have that. It's Christianity which has.

You are quite right about Socialism-The only thing worse than Socialism in the abstract is concrete examples of it's incompetent bungling, disregard for human life and community cohesion, not to mention vital social institutions such as the Monarchy, the Church, the Universities and the Lords. Grrr!

The Angry Clam

I threw in the "not as a perjorative" because I didn't want the "is being a commie bad?" argument to start.

I simply wanted to point out the different focuses behind traditional economic thought and marxist economic thought.

I failed.


Gosh, John, right up until that last paragraph, I was with you! ;-)


What a suprise! :-)

I could have thrown in the transforming personal power of Christ in terms of giving stuff to the poor, missionary efforts etc., but I thought my rant was too long as it was. Likewise, Christianity nurtured Science. God is knowable, God has instituted natural laws, We reflect glory to Him by finding out what they are. (Linneaus, Newton, Pascal, Pasteur, Kelvin, Einstein, etc.).

As for the last paragraph, Friend, that is why I so strongly oppose Socialism. It takes away those informal links between people, the important traditions and institutions "Which make power gentle and obedience liberal" (Burke), in favour of ham-fisted regulation by bloated government departments. Margaret Thatcher: "When you decide everyone gets an equal share, you have to have people to make sure that happens. And then more people to make sure they aren't cheating. And then more above them, and on and on. Socialism is unworkable because the facts of life are fundamentally conservative". The essence of conservatism is that inarticulate sense of right and tradition, which finds expression in the voluntary associations, the Church, the Crown, the rural and business communities, the grammar schools and in voluntary charity and community empowerment. The government doesn't work. We should stop pretending it does.


And what, John, do you think were the economic practices in the book of Acts, 2:44:

"All the believers were together and had everything in common."


"And after the land was sold, were not the proceeds yours to do with as you would?". The community was voluntary. There was no compulsion, no government department, no forcible redistribution, simply giving according to conscience. Bolshevism takes your wealth. Christianity tells you to give it away.
(And what was the economic principle in "If anyone does not work. he should not eat?" ;-))


And then there's the part of the Bible that says "Religion is the opiate of the masses." I forget where that was in the Bible; somewhere in either the Book of Hezekiah or 3 Timothy IIRC.


Personally, I like the bit from 3 Peter: "The Established Church of England would rather have an attack on 38 of it's 39 Articles than 1/38th of it's income". ECUSA gives daily proof of this. I would observe that if Christianity is an opiate, it's an extraordinarily painful one, given the fact that Christ refuses to leave us the same, but insists we change and face ourselves as we really are. ;-)


Oh, John, that is good-- we could have happy false prooftexting all day!

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