Buying America's Least Common Denominators

Wal-Mart is a topic at business schools for all the reasons you would think: case studies in channel dominance, maximizing profit by lowering costs, trucking expense, and their unbridled success. Surprisingly it is also discussed for destroying downtowns (by moving shopping to the mall and putting mom and pops out of business), lowering the American Dream (now that the mom and pops that pay better are out of business and you have to punch a cash register at Wal-Mart for half the money, you can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart), and the prices really aren’t that low when you figure in all the costs (what you get is made cheaply and you drove farther to buy it, polluting more and contributed to our trade deficit by buying imported goods made in countries where the labor standards are are horrific).

It proves something I have been trying to teach for years: the indifferent equivalence of everything with everything else, for an audience that has no concern for that difference, and no discernment of quality.

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