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Jose’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

My name is Jose, and I would like to ask a question about Wal-Mart.

I live in a pretty medium sized town in Illinois called Galesburg, most people haven’t heard of it. It’s a nice place to live. Rumor has it that the Marx brothers got their original names while passing through our theatre back in 1914. We also have a big railroad festival every year and Knox College is right in the town, so we have lots of students around too. All in all, I would have to say its a typical American town in every way. I grew up here and would like to stay, although the changes I’ve seen these recent years might mean I have to move to a bigger city even though I don’t want to.

Also typical of our town is that we have a massive Wal-Mart Supercenter right in the heart of downtown. It’s massive and does pretty much everything a Supercenter does: it’s a tire place and mechanics, a pharmacy, an eye glasses place, a massive junk food grocery store, a plant and garden center, they sell cell phones and other technological doodads, they do passport photos, and they have a full portrait studio. There’s even a gall-darn sandwich restaurant in there just in case you get hungry while you’re shopping in the place for hours and hours trying to find what you need.

Now, my father was a carpenter and so was my grandfather. I apprenticed with them when I was a teenager, but soon realized that there’s no money in that field anymore. Why? Because people ’round here don’t have enough money to work on their homes anymore and if they do, they choose to do it themselves to save some cash. I’m not an economist like you are, but I have the feeling that some of this might be because so many people have become unemployed these last five year since the Wal-Mart moved in and closed down so many of our local businesses. When I was growing up, the people who owned the drugstore or the photo place were pretty well off, but since they don’t have jobs now, they no longer have any money to put into the community. (I would also like to add that our city has a huge percentage of its citizens who have recently gone on welfare to cover the gap in having one or two members of the household unemployed.)

So, my question is this: how is Wal-Mart good for the US economy or for the American people? If they come in, kill all of our businesses, kill all of our jobs and then we have no money to spend on anything, isn’t this bad for capitalism overall? Shouldn’t they be stopped from having this horrible affect on our communities? What can I do to get them out of my town?

Dear Jose,

[editor’s note: Mister Capitalism couldn’t be with us today, so instead we bring you his devoted disciple Tim Worstall of Forbes.com]

I think all of the answers to your questions can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/03/31/of-course-walmart-destroys-retail-jobs-thats-the-darn-point-of-it-all/

Please read this in its entirety, and then come back here for a few more comments from yours truly . . .

So, there you have it, Costco and Wal-Mart: good, you, your families and your communities: stupid. It’s just the way capitalism goes, and I say: suck it up. In the article I even give you some suggestions, the most pressing being curing cancer! Now that you have all this free time because you’re out of a job and are not trained in anything that is applicable to the modern world (like carpentry—what’s the point of that, just shop at the Home Depot!), spend your waking hours curing an incurable disease. Problem Solved.

You ask, what can be done to stop Wal-Mart once they are already in your town? Nothing. Mr.Capitalism has done an excellent job of convincing politicians all across America and Britain that having a Supercenter in their town is a good idea . . . and if he has to throw some cash their way every once in a while, well, that’s not corruption, that’s just old-fashioned greasin’ the wheels.

The other option for you is to move: there are plenty of low-wage labor jobs in the third world, and they’re always looking for carpenters to build their huts on the outskirts of major cities—it doesn’t pay much, but at least you’ll have something to do with your idle hands. Now me, I am trained in economics, so I have never built anything in my entire life. If I need some carpentry or some yard work done at one of my mansions, well, that’s why there are people called “Mexicans” and “North Africans” in the world. They love to work for nothing!

Thanks for you letter, and get out there and do something and stop being so lazy!

Tim Worstall, proud owner of Wal-Mart stock.

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