Gut Rumbles

January 14, 2006


"I'm a steamroller, baby, bound to roll all over you..."
---James Taylor

If a bunch of thugs banded together and performed this kind of shakedown on a business, they'd be prosecuted as criminals under RICO statutes. If this extortion scheme isn't an example of organized crime, I don't know what is.

First, the "Tobacco Settlement." Now, this. Who will be next?

Ask me again why I don't trust my government.


I dunno, Rob. I used to agree but I don't think I do anymore.

The fact is that Wal-Mart is a corporation, not an individual--and corporations are creations of the government in the first place. Without government, they would not be able to exist--period. The government creates them, and sustains them. And large corporations like Wal-Mart, due to the artificial advantages that they have over the everyday businessman--you know, an actual PERSON who runs a business and is a face who has to answer to people--gets squeezed out by these giant corporations that the government has made possible to exist.

So you may be able to argue that these megacorporations make life better by providing good-priced goods and services, making life better for people. Maybe they do. Hell I shop at 'em. But they wouldn't be able to do what they do--they wouldn't even be able to exist--if the government hadn't created these things called "corporations" and given them "rights" and allowed them to behave in certain ways.

So fuck 'em. They destroy small businesses and a lot of jobs that go with 'em. We decide it's okay that they do that since they do more good than harm. Fine. But if we're going to allow these fake beings--these gollums, these paper non-persons--to exist and do business, I got no problem if the gub'mint wants to create rules for how they're allowed to treat their customers, and how they're allowed to treat their employees

If the people of the great state of Maryland determine that a megacorporation is required to provide free Swedish massage and a Vegas vacation to all residents before they're allowed to do business there, then by God that is what Wal-Mart will do before it's allowed to do business in Maryland. If Wal-Mart doesn't like it, then Wal-Mart should pick another state to do business in.

(By the way, you know what's wrong with most of today's liberals? They can't make a straight-line, logical argument like this. They whine about "greed" and the evils of "Big Business" rather than making sensible, logical arguments that don't make out like making money or selling goods is a bad thing.)

Posted by: Dean Esmay on January 14, 2006 09:23 PM

Uh, wow.

Simple fact--any/all businesses (large or small--including Walmart) are customer driven and profit motivated, or they are no longer businesses. Bottom lines dictate that simple truth to both Mom & Pop corner stores, and corporate giants. All other opinions are but personal commentary.

In addition, the above "straight-line logic" has left out the thousands of much smaller businesses that supply goods to Walmart and must also pay their employees, and also maintain a profit margin that keeps the business(es) alive.

If folks quit shopping at Walmart, it would not just be Walmart that would be hurting or go out of business.

That aside, I am very much interested (as I am sure Sam Walton would be were he here), to understand just how the government created Walmart.


Posted by: jb on January 14, 2006 09:57 PM

As His Rottiness says-F.E.T.E. Close the Maryland Wal-Marts, build new ones just over the border and tell the gov to suck eggs for the missing sales taxes...

Posted by: The Old Man on January 14, 2006 10:00 PM


Unfortunately this will only hurt the consumer in the end as higher prices. No government regulation or tax is ever paid for by any corporation, the cost is just passed along to the consumer.
Like most "progressive" plans, this regulation only punishes those it seeks to benefit.
Wal-Mart got to where it is because it provided a service cheaper than its competitors, partially because of its large size and buying power, but also because of a good business plan.
You can argue whether it engaged in fair business practices and there are laws to prevent those abuses, but saying they deserve to be singled out because they can afford it is petty.
Every time the government tries these "they can afford it" ,"its for the benefit of society" plans it results in lost jobs, higher prices and fewer services. Just take a look at L.A's new minimum wage laws or the mandated ethanol formulations for each state the oil companies must blend.
No, I agree with Acidman. When the government has a "plan" better check your wallet.

Posted by: Brian on January 14, 2006 10:13 PM

Meh. The law is atrocious, but I fully expect Wal-Mart to stay true to their principles, and promptly, er, restructure their presence in this state so that their number of employees falls nominally below the 10K threshold. Congratulations, state congress! You just voted 7500 economically vulnerable citizens out of a job!

Posted by: anonymous on January 14, 2006 10:15 PM


I'll add that, while I haven't read the text of the law, every article I've read about it refers to "employers." In other words, this law is not limited to corporations - it would also apply to a sole proprietorship or partnership - enterprises which do not enjoy those priviliges afforded to corporations on which you are basing your argument.

Posted by: same anonymous on January 14, 2006 10:27 PM

Wal-mart won't pay for this "health care." Wal-Mart CUSTOMERS will, and not just the ones in Maryland. And Dean, that "fuck 'em " attitude is exactly why government can get away with crap such as this. (Wal-mart is RICH! Fuck 'em. They can afford it.)

Two other points: Did the "people" of Maryland vote on this issue? I don't think so. Money-grubbing gangsters (government) hatched this scheme all by themselves, relying on the "fuck 'em" syndrome to allow 'em to pull it off. Plus, I question your idea that government "sustains" Wal-mart. What does government GIVE to Wal-mart except a gigantic headache?

Posted by: Acidman on January 14, 2006 11:16 PM

Dean, that's just too damn funny! Great parody!

I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!

Posted by: anonymous on January 14, 2006 11:34 PM

I would close enough stores to keep the payroll numbers underneath the mark and if they lowered the mark I would close more stores, If I had to close every damn one of them that is what I would do. I detest this kind of crap from government nearly as I do unions.

Posted by: GUYK on January 15, 2006 12:26 AM

1- the bloddy goverment is to damn big
2- wally world should just move all it's crap stores to mexico

Posted by: ben tzu on January 15, 2006 02:02 AM

Whoa. Call the Guiness Book of Records. I agreed with something Dean Esmay said? You're over the top with the dig at liberals Dean, we do too make linear arguments all the time, that I notice you tend to misinterpret as much as the next guy when it suits your point, but you're spot on with the idea that it's okay to regulate the conditions of employment at the big box corporate stores.

The govmit shouldn't dictate how they treat their customers, that's interference in free commerce, but they certainly have a place in dictating work conditions. All you folks who are worried about the welfare state, this is how it's created. By corporate employers who put the bottom line over their worker's well-being and force them onto the medicaid/food stamp rolls because they don't pay them enough to afford to take care of themselves.

You're worried about paying 50 cents more for the Chinese made crap they sell there, why? You pay at the consumer end or you pay in taxes to support the workers benefits so the Waltons can make another billion they're going to use to stuff their "moral righteousness" down your throat via their PAC payola to politicians.

And whoever wanted to know how the gov't created this mess - in two words -- tax breaks. They give these stores millions in breaks to bring them in and it's well documented that local businesses are forced out because they can't compete with WalMart's artificially supported prices. If they were forced to play on a level playing field, it wouldn't be such a big problem.

And don't get me started on how WalMart contributes to the trade deficit. All those savings on electronics is driving us straight into economic disaster.

Posted by: Libby on January 15, 2006 08:40 AM

To follow on to what anonymous said....Wal-Mart had a plan to build a large distribution center in southern MD, in one of the most economically depressed areas of the state. As soon as this idiotic bill passed, they announced they were "re-thinking" that plan and considering moving it to Virginia. This caused an immediate reaction from the local politcians there, zinging away at their "friends" in Annapolis, with no effect.

Dean makes a good argument except for one critical point. *Any* business entity can incorporate and enjoy the protections and advantages the law provides; it's not limited to big, ugly megacorporations. I had to chuckle at his parenthetical comment, though. It exactly describes many of the whiny moonbats who called in to the local talkradio shows defending this piece of crap.

Acidman, you are partially correct, the people of MD didn't vote for this -- but the arrogant elitist moonbats they keep sending back to Annapolis did.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Ham on January 15, 2006 09:07 AM

I know presicely what I'd do if I were Walmart in Maryland. I'd close every single store in that state. Period. The End. I'd toss the middle finger right in the state legislature's face.

I am so sick and tired of these liberal groups targeting companies like Walmart, then spreading rumors and lies about them. I happen like Walmart. It's saved me and my family a lot of money.

Posted by: Braden on January 15, 2006 10:21 AM


Sebastian Mallaby, in WaPo - 11/28, lays to rest the supposed facts about Walmart shifting employee costs over upon the taxpayers.

Pretty balanced article, if you can put personal bias aside to read it.


Posted by: jb on January 15, 2006 11:10 AM

Posted by: jb on January 15, 2006 11:14 AM

(I love that song...)

Posted by: blondage on January 15, 2006 11:19 AM


"The govmit shouldn't dictate how they treat their customers, that's interference in free commerce, but they certainly have a place in dictating work conditions."

Please clarify the distinction you are making between "how they treat their costumers" and "work conditions."

"All you folks who are worried about the welfare state, this is how it's created."

You can't seriously be claiming that this law isn't an incarnation of the welfare state.

Lastly, I agree with you that local governments should absolutely not be extending tax breaks to Wal-Mart that it does not extend to their competitors. I don't know how frequently that happens, but I assure you that I find it every bit as objectionable as laws like this one.

Posted by: same anonymous on January 15, 2006 12:54 PM

I think Dean has just had another session with Harvey Bialy, aka. Eccles The Idiot. Dean's advice is overtly Communistic: everyone must do what the Government says because we each and all exist at the whim of the State, and to serve It. This a fact-already-accomplished according to Dean. But instead in fact, Corporations are really only iterations or different forms of "individuals". When you "incorporate" you form a new body or one composed of many. So if you sit down for controlling Corporations in an anti-individualistic way, you sit down for your own slavery.

Posted by: Ga-ne-sha on January 15, 2006 01:40 PM

Anon, my admittedly limited research shows WalMart gets tax breaks nearly every time they build. They promise jobs and growth but the jobs are low-paid without benefits and the workers are treated like numbers, not human beings. You work for a little hardware store, and your kid is sick and needs to rushed to the doctor, your car breaks down, your employer will tell you it's okay to take the day off. WalMart will fire you as a matter of company policy. They're too big to make exceptions.

And the hiring pratices are designed to maximize profits at the expense of the worker. And it's not just WalMart that does this, although they've become the face of corporate greed. I worked for a grocery store chain once. They were a fairly large corp who actually treated their loyal employees pretty well but here's how they get away with not paying benefits. They schedule the new workers to just under full time. Where I lived it was 33, maybe 35 hours before they were required to pay bennies. And schedule you they did right to the minute, with irregular shifts that preclude you from getting another part time job to help fill in the gaps. This is how their employees end up on medicaid and welfare. You don't make little enough to starve but you can't make enough to get ahead either and if some disaster strikes, you get sick, your car dies, whatever -- you're screwed.

I admit I don't have a lot of answers on how to fix it, but I think the problem is pretty clear.

Posted by: Libby on January 15, 2006 02:39 PM

TAX BREAK--- government displaying its beneficent nature by confiscating LESS of YOUR money than it COULD.

Posted by: Acidman on January 15, 2006 05:00 PM

Acidman, jb,

I think that Libby brings up one legit point: Wal-Mart does often receive tax breaks that are in fact anti-competitive. This is as offensive an incarnation of regulatory interference in the free market as the anti-Wal-Mart law in question.

That said, Libby, working for Wal-Mart is a shitty job. We get it. It doesn't follow from this that the onus is on the government to make it better. Wal-Mart doesn't drive out competitors. If Wal-Mart is, in a particular instance, benefitting from anti-competitve tax considerations, they are at worst an accomplice of the local government in driving out the local competition. If Wal-Mart is not benefitting from anti-competitive tax considerations, the "driving out" is being done by the local consumers. Wal-Mart can't and doesn't force anyone to patronize their stores, and can't and doesn't force anyone to stop patronizing their competition.

Can you honestly say that, if Wal-Mart were not receiving these anti-competitive tax considerations, you would object to the law in question?

Posted by: same anonymous on January 15, 2006 10:43 PM

Good question same anon. If WalMart was doing what it does without gov't breaks, and I believed people really had a choice, I'd like to think I would object. I may be a political progressive but I'm no fan of big government.

In any event, I don't know how I got embroiled in this discussion. I try not to inflict my politics on this forum. Anyone who's interested in my unique logic can read my other blogs. I think it was just the shock of agreeing with Dean that set me off.

At this point, I'll simply concede that my logic and understanding of the world is not perfect and I'll shut up now.

Posted by: Libby on January 16, 2006 08:58 AM

So if I run a business in Maryland I should...
1) keep my headcount below 10k..


2) not pay more than 8%of my payroll on healthcare.

Way to create jobs there. Great for growth, bring in the robots, hell I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and checked myself out, there was one person manning eight registers. Eight!

What are they going to do, go all New Jersey and ban self checkout? I suppose they could, but Jersey gets away with it by having low gas tax so gas is cheaper there than in NY or PA. So what should MD do? Kill the jobs by raising the taxes, or keep the jobs by lowering the taxes?

What they could do is to lower the sales tax when they put the 8% blackmail staute on the books. Retailers (a very-low margin business, that's why wages are so low) in MD can keep prices on par with surrounding states and still keep the tax burden on the corporation low.

Of course, MD is a small state, and real close to Delaware, which doesn't have a sales tax, so all the people (read "the rich") that can afford to shop out of state are doing it anyway , at least for big ticket items. I did when I lived in South Jersey.

So this turns into a tax on the poor. So they are fucking themselves no matter what they do.

Last I looked, no one put a gun to anybody's head and forced them to work at Wal-Mart. And when you do, you don't have Union dues pulled automatically from your paycheck like I did working part-time as a highschool kid pushing carts around.

Sorry for the rant.

Posted by: Terry on January 16, 2006 09:30 AM

I have published on the absurd notion that by adopting a corporate structure one immediately loses one's rights at the Blogcritics site. If it were true that being subject to and benefiting from certain laws renders one's organization a mere "creation of the state," whose participants therefore as corporate actors may claim no rights against the state, that would also be true of the most basic organization to have benefited from laws and adjudication: society itself. Is society itself just a "creation of the state"? Are all our rights null and void because of that? ...People build companies, not "the state."

Posted by: David M. Brown on January 17, 2006 07:13 PM
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