Posting has been slow (well, nonexistent) as Jeannie and I move into our new place in New Haven. For odd reasons, AT&T takes 10 days to set up an Internet line, so I’m squelching off of the faint signal of the Italian eatery down the street.
New Haven life already holds its differences. Two weeks ago I was half time in the East Village, halftime in DC. This week I pulled into a sub-suburban Walmart in my rented pickup truck.
Jeannie had reservations about the Walmart trip. Isn’t this the union-busting, small business-destroying, employee-squeezing, no-health-care-providing terror of the suburban sprawl?
Being a good economist, I immediately thought that the employees have other options if they don’t like Walmart wages. And extending employee health care would effectively give every person a 30 percent wage increase overnight, raising prices for largely low and middle class families.
Those low prices (they are ridiculously low, especially after two years of paying six dollars for a quart of milk in Manhattan) arguably help fight poverty, not increase it. I got a fresh roasted chicken for five bucks. That would feed a family of four or five.
As for the small business owners, I’ve never felt more gouged than walking into a small hardware shop and paying eight dollars for a nail.
All the same, I’m reminded of my favorite Homer Simpson line: “In theory, communism works. In theory.”
Does Walmart work only in theory? Are they exploitative or merely efficient? There must be a huge amount of work on the topic. Any directions from readers? I’m more interested in the facts than the ideology (from either side).
Your answers will determine whether Jeannie lets me enjoy everyday low prices. In my pickup.