Wal-Mart in Vermont
A Non-Religious Query from Enkidu, Theologian-in-Residence
Sometimes moderate Republicans I chat with are surprised to meet an actual Liberal. Having grown used to considering all “liberals” to be Socialist, they are a bit stymied to find themselves faced by an ardent Democrat who argues in their own language.
My Socialist friends are less surprised by my Liberalism, but are equally frustrated when, on occasion, we differ on policy decisions.
A recent bill proposed in the Vermont Legislature is a case in point of the latter. The issue at hand is the increasing difficulties experienced by country stores in the small towns of that state. Apparently they are being under-priced by the Wal-Marts going up in every other county.
As a devout Liberal who admires the gains of the labor movement over the past 150-odd years, my first reaction was “if these stores have the organizational capacity to lobby the state legislature, why don’t not pool their buying and advertising power to compete with Wal-Mart head-on in Vermont?”
Alternatively, as a New Yorker who shops at their own corner store rather than trekking a few blocks to the Big Box on the avenue might propose, specialization rather than broad-product competition might be an answer.
Actually, however, the bill in Vermont imposes a limit on the size of retail outlets, and accompanies this legal dam with a $50 million dollars in state grants and loans to small-business owners.
Readers: please advise me as to how this regulatory solution is in the interests of the citizens of Vermont, and how it is superior to the alternatives that I and my New Yorker counterpart recommend?