For the past month or so, the news headlines have been decrying what my waggish friend Ian might call "El Wal-Mart del Sol." Been asleep? Here's the quick version. Wal-Mart's
How near, how big, and what exactly the impact will be is the subject of some furious controversy, including protests, a big P.R. campaign, and even machete-wielding mobs. Opponents (and The New York Times reporters) call the store ugly, claim it harms important archeological remains, and contend that it will put a local market out of business. Company officials say the facility is being made smaller to fit into the environment, and that archeologists have given the project the all clear.
There appears to be only one point of agreement: that a majority of locals want to see the store because they are convinced it will get them lower prices.
I've questioned Wal-Mart's bogus lip service in the past. The typical line is something like, "We only want to save money for the masses." Please spare me, Comrade Walton. You want to make money. Too often, you've done it at the expense of small-town businesses and local wishes. That's not good.
Issues like local control and fair labor practices are the reason that sometimes I'm down with the PC thing. Heck, I haven't eaten at Yum! Brand's
At the same time, I'm a capitalist at heart, and I think it's awfully easy to take swings at the big kid, even when he's not bullying. Do Target
Unfortunately, the point-counterpoint habits of media reporting tend to emphasize the expanse of the ideological gulf at the expense of true objectivity or truth, if there is such a thing. The middle ground is lost completely.
Whatever the circumstances of this particular dustup, Wal-Mart investors need to keep an eye on public perceptions as the chain becomes ever more prominent around the globe. The example of world whipping boyMicrosoft
For more uppity Foolishness:
- The S&P says, "Honey, I shrank Wal-Mart."
- What's Microsoft's European Catch-22?
- Welcome to the Republic of Wal-Mart.
Seth Jayson gets it from both sides when he writes articles like this. Commie? Capitalist pig? Let him know. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned.