Posts Tagged ‘Walmart’

The FSA [Free-Shit Army] strikes at two Wal-Marts in Louisiana courtesy of CBS news.

Wal-Marts in Springhill and Mansfield were ransacked by EBT users attempting to take advantage of the two store’s hospitality of allowing the users to use their cards even though the EBT debit system was down and there was no way to validate a balance on any specific card. Springhill police chief Will Lynd explained one such situation:

… the cards weren’t showing limits and they called corporate Walmart, whose spokesman  said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Walmart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

Providing for her family, or just plain looting? Tough to say either way unless you consider the mind of an average member of the FSA. They think anything and everything should come with out cost. From Healthcare to Obamaphones these people want MOAR!

moarNever mind the taxpayers footing the bill that’s what they want. Here is a further example of the behavior of FSA members:

Amateur video taken on shoppers’ cell phones shows dozens of shopping carts, piled high with merchandise, abandoned in the aisles of one Walmart after the announcement was made that EBT cards were once again showing accurate spending limits.

So now that our cards show a balance that doesn’t cover what we are “buying” let’s get the hell out of Dodge. Once the rules of trading have been reestablished, as usual, the FSA retreats in haste to its previous position.

There were people present who actually called this situation exactly as they saw it:

Shopper Stan Garcia was more critical of the unscrupulous shoppers, however, saying that taking advantage of the brief glitch in the benefits system amounted to “… plain theft. That’s stealing, that’s all I got to say about it.”

Agreed Stan, if you don’t have the cash you shouldn’t get the goods.

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From WSJ:

Every time Congress has taken a serious look at proposals to boost Internet sales taxes, it has rejected them. That’s probably why pro-tax Senators are trying to rush through an online tax hike with as little consideration as possible.

As early as Monday, the Senate will vote on a bill that was introduced only last Tuesday. The text of this legislation, which would fundamentally change interstate commerce, only became available on the Library of Congress website over the weekend. And you thought ObamaCare was jammed through Nancy Pelosi‘s Democratic House in a hurry.

You should always worry about measures that are rushed through, and you should always worry about taxes.  Time to call and email those senators again.

For Senators curious about what they’re voting on, it is the same flawed proposal that Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) introduced in February. It has been repackaged to qualify for a Senate rule that allows Majority Leader Harry Reid to bypass committee debate and bring it straight to the floor.

Yup, rushing it through, no committee debate, no discussion, no time for input.

Mr. Enzi’s Marketplace Fairness Act discriminates against Internet-based businesses by imposing burdens that it does not apply to brick-and-mortar companies.

Almost every bill these days has an Orwellian name.  There is nothing “fair” about this act.

For the first time, online merchants would be forced to collect sales taxes for all of America’s estimated 9,600 state and local taxing authorities.

New Hampshire, for example, has no sales tax, but a Granite State Web merchant would be forced to collect and remit sales taxes to all the governments that do. Small online sellers will therefore have to comply with tax laws created by distant governments in which they have no representation, and in places where they consume no local services.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s brick-and-mortar retailers will bear no such burden. They will not be required to collect taxes on the many customers who drive across the Maine and Massachusetts borders to shop in New Hampshire. Bill sponsors say it would be too big a hassle to force traditional retailers to ask every walk-in customer where they live, but these Senators are happy to impose new obligations online.

What this does is it creates barriers to competition for the online marketplace.  It’s cronyism – the physical stores are having government be their thug enforcer.

Right now, internet companies have the advantage of reduced taxes, and they have a broad customer base, as they have access to any customer with internet access.  Brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage of specific taxes (no use tax), no shipping charges, and they allow customers to actually see what they’re buying before they purchase it.

Brick-and-mortar stores have the added cost of maintaining a store; but only suffer online disadvantages if they don’t expand their business online.  Some online businesses have already dominated certain markets, but with the viability of searches and search engines that will help the consumer seek out the best price, all they have to do is offer the best product at the lowest price.  That’s capitalism.

What the brick-and-mortar stores want now is to force their online competitors to suffer the myriad of regulations that exist throughout the nation.  Making a medium-sized online business (something like OpticsPlanet, for example) know every state, city, township, county, municipality and local district’s tax status might be possible, but it will drive their prices up as they hire lawyers.  Making a little business comply with the same regulations is an exercise in using government to destroy competition.

It’s noteworthy that Walmart and Amazon are supporting this bill.  While a lot of times I’m willing to voice support for Walmart, that’s when they recognize that their best interests and their customers’ interests coincide and follow their customers’ demands.

In general, that’s the case, because Walmart usually exemplifies free markets.  In this particular instance, however, Walmart has looked at its balance sheet and decided that it’s in its best interest to use government force to crush its competitors.  Walmart does provide a lot of good for its customers, but ultimately Walmart is only a creature as moral as the system it exists in.  When it recognizes the demands of customers and represents them, it does well and is as moral as its customers who drive it; when Walmart exploits the governmental system that lets it collude with the IRS to destroy competitors, it’s as villainous as the vampiric politicians who enable it.

Any Internet seller with more than $1 million in annual sales would be forced to serve all of the nation’s tax collectors.

Note that says “$1 million in annual sales”.  That doesn’t mean $1 million in profit.  A company could barely be breaking even after expenses and find itself destroyed by the taxation burden and regulations it now has to wade through.  The red tape would be monstrous.

This bill, and all federal bills like it also tax citizens in addition to state-based use taxes.  The citizen is already hit for taxes if they buy things out of state when they do their end-of-year state taxes (there’s often a “minimum use tax” whether or not you bought anything online), and now they’ll be hit for taxes from the business.  This is a federal bill to make you pay more taxes for products, taxes which most every state is already assessing you for.

This rush to tax is an attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota that forcing businesses to collect and remit taxes to jurisdictions where they have no physical presence was too big a burden.

Noteworthy from Quill v North Dakota:

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court ruled that a business must have a physical presence in a state for that state to require it to collect sales taxes. However, the court explicitly stated that Congress can overrule the decision through legislation.

The power to tax is again the power to destroy.

The WSJ piece ends with this:

Some of our conservative friends are backing this Internet tax raid as a way to raise revenue to avoid more state income-tax increases. More likely the new revenues will merely fund larger government.

They aren’t conservatives.  They’re RINOs.  Raising taxes reduces the benefits for producers, and increases the demands on consumers.  People will make less money per unit, so they will make fewer units; people will pay more per unit, so they will buy fewer units.  Volume will decline, consumers will suffer, and all but the chosen winner businesses and the redistributor politicians will suffer.  “Revenues”, a polite way to say government taking from you (while giving you nothing that you need), will not be increased.  It will simply fund more pet projects of worthless “representatives” who will seek to bring home pork barrel projects to get themselves reelected.  This is Bastiat’s example of everyone plundering everyone.

If you want to steal from the people of the US in order to line your filthy thieving nest with taxes that destroy businesses, this is one way to do it.  If you’re a scum-sucking almost-obsolescent whip-and-buggy maker who wants to make sure no one can be more successful than you and that their businesses are destroyed so you can feast on their carcasses, this is a great tool to use government force to destroy their success because you’re too lazy to earn it yourself; all the while screwing over your customers because you’re too weak to make an honest buck.

It’s forcible redistribution, government finding the winners and crushing them at the behest of the losers and subsidizing the losers that harm the consumer.

And they call it “fairness”.

Walmart Standing Strong

Posted: December 19, 2012 by ShortTimer in Country Class, Economic freedom, Guns, Second Amendment
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Well, I’d like to think it’s a principled stance, but it’s a stance probably just based around money, profit and loss, and sales.  From Bloomberg news:

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said yesterday that it would continue to sell guns, including rifles like the one used at Newtown, where 26 people, most of them children, were killed on Dec. 14. By contrast, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (DKS) suspended sales of similar guns at its more than 500 stores.

Searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Wal- Mart’s website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas and Alabama. Wal-Mart doesn’t sell guns online, instead asking customers to input a zip code to see if their local store carries a specific weapon.

We remain dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold,” David Tovar, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said yesterday.

ARs aren’t popular because Walmart sells them.  Walmart sells them because they’re popular.  They know it’s a product that many, many, many people want to buy, and Walmart is willing to sell it.  AR type rifles have been the hottest selling rifles in the last decade as military servicemen want their old rifles, shooting competitors want them, sport shooters want them, those that embrace the Second Amendment want them, varmint hunters, deer hunters, critter hunters, self-defense advocates (especially in large areas) want them, moms and dads, girls and boys, grandma and grandpa want them.

This is more an indicator of how overwhelmingly popular the AR series rifle is than of Walmart taking a stand.  Here, Walmart represents the demands of its consumers.  And its consumers believe in the right to keep and bear arms, and are voting with their dollars.

Walmart Knows Its Customers

Posted: November 15, 2012 by ShortTimer in free markets, Guns, Humor
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From around the internet, pictures from a Walmart ammo counter.

From Washington Times:

The super PAC backing President Obama raised $15 million last month, including $300,000 from Samuel Rawlings Walton, an heir to Wal-Mart, a traditional Republican-leaning organization.

Also contributing $1 million to Priorities USA was filmmaker Steven Spielberg, whose colleague Jeffrey Katzenberg is an Obama bundler and gave $1 million himself. Fred Eychaner, who has raised at least half a million dollars from acquaintances for the Obama campaign, gave $2 million personally to the super PAC.

And Washington Examiner via Drudge:

My favorite detail, though, is this Washington Times report by data hound Luke Rosiak: Wal-Mart Chairman Sam Walton has apparently given big to Obama’s SuperPAC.

This is at first surprising for a couple of reasons. First, the Waltons tend to be Republican. Second, the conventional wisdom is that megacorps like Wal-Mart are a Republican thing.

But Sam Walton gave the maximum $30,800 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008, and $40,000 to the OVF this election.

Seems surprising, given that Walmart has been socially a bit conservative for decades.  But then you have to remember what Milton Friedman has said about big business; and what Don Rumsfeld said waaay back during Friedman’s Free To Choose series.  Their point was basically that businesses don’t have an ideology beyond profit for owners & shareholders.  In general, wholly unethical businesses will be punished by the market as people will stop buying their products, so the people running them are rarely monsters, but a business sees nothing wrong with buying favoritism from government.  Government is supposed to set up the rules of the game, and businesses, if given the opportunity, will readily bribe the officials running the game in any legal way in order to increase their own standing.  Plus if one business doesn’t, another will.

Policy-wise, there’s plenty of reason for Sam Walton to like Barack Obama:

  1. Wal-Mart endorsed the employer mandate in ObamaCare, which gives Wal-Mart an advantage by crushing smaller competitors.
  2. Wal-Mart has profited from Dodd-Frank, which fixes the price Wal-Mart has to pay banks for processing debit cards.
  3. Wal-Mart has lobbied for and profits from higher minimum wage.
  4. Wal-Mart is a top beneficiary of eminent domain takings, a government power protected by the types of judges Obama appoints.
  5. Big Business generally benefits from Big Government.

Walmart, ultimately, is looking out for its interests.  Obama’s big government sets up barriers to entry to competitors, and favors big businesses that he favors quite a bit.  Putting folks like GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt in positions of power at the White House, while GE is getting favored contracts in wind power subsidies and other politically favored anti-Manbearpig grants and such ultimately establishes barriers to entry, and improves the standing of certain big businesses by giving them power.

Walmart could also just be covering its bases.  No business wants to throw all-in with a loser and end up punished by the administration.  They saying goes “if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu”.

Worth looking at is the “Heavy Hitters” list of political donations at Opensecrets.org.  Note ActBlue is a Democrat organization.  Also very much worth looking at are the numbers from a few years ago, showing who gave to Obama/Dems in 2008.

Mike In East Texas, from this Monday, 6/13.  Thanks again to the Texas Overnight Fan Blog.

Part 1

Part 2

Towards the very end of Part 2, Mike starts to discuss breaking up of monopolies.  He states that big box stores like Walmart are monopolies at the local level, that in small towns, they dominate market share so much as to become monopolies.  He states that Walmart and the like are monopolies that are killing small-town jobs.

He usually knows his stuff, but here I’ll take issue.  Walmart decreases costs for everyone around them.  Those who’ve been in small towns without a Walmart to control costs know this.  Travel to a small town and see what businesses charge in the absence of competition.  Penn & Teller pointed out a lot of this in their episode of Bullshit! about Walmart Hatred.

One of the major benefits is that Walmart will reduce prices on regular consumer goods.  You can buy groceries there, buy a lot of household goods there, and in general save money on necessary items that you can then turn into disposable income.  If you’re paying less for a pair of socks at Walmart (or paying less at a local store that has to reduce prices on account of Walmart), you have a few more bucks to spend at your local comic book shop or bookstore or coffee house or going to a rodeo or buying concessions at a minor league ball game or whatever.  Walmart produces real jobs and forces businesses to compete.  Do they have an unfair advantage due to their prices?  No more unfair than an established business can muster by having quality and a locally-known and trusted name.

To give an anecdotal example of what amounts to an oligopoly of three stores (artificial scarcity due to government regulation), where I live there is a gun store that sells guns, a hardware store that sells guns, and Walmart that sells guns.  The gun store overcharges to an insulting degree – I have seen them ask three times the market price of a rifle – they have odd hours and an unhelpful, and I’m told even insulting staff; their ammunition prices as I recall were so high they could be a joke, and accessories were sometimes used gear dishonestly repackaged and sold as new at high prices as well.  The hardware store, by contrast, has merely exaggerated firearm prices and tries to keep close to pace with Walmart with conventional fare, but due to their maneuverability as a small business, sometimes has good deals on firearms and can sometimes order specific items; their ammunition prices are merely exorbitant, and accessories range from highway robbery to merely high to better than having it shipped.  Walmart has some standard fare rifles and shotguns for the bone stock market price, and they have common ammunition at the most reasonable prices for the current market in town, and accessories are limited, but generally quite inexpensive.

If I want to buy a firearm at Walmart, I am limited to very common rifles and shotguns, and they don’t offer handguns or anything not in their catalog.  If I want a handgun, or a specific rifle or shotgun, I can go to the hardware store and probably get in the ballpark of what I want.  The ammunition costs there will be so high as to make most any firearm’s running costs seem unreasonable, but that’s where Walmart comes in.  With the money I save buying ammo (and cleaning gear, etc.) at Walmart, I can afford more firearms at the hardware store, and I won’t write off a gun I find at the hardware store as costing too much to shoot.  I may also save money on target ammo and buy specialty ammo at the hardware store.

Now, realistically, buying local costs a lot more than going to a bigger marketplace.  If I order ammunition and have it shipped to me, even with shipping costs of heavy, special freight, I can save money on most types of ammo versus buying at any of the stores in town.  If I can have a specific rifle, handgun, or shotgun shipped to a local federal firearms license holder to transfer to me, I can pay the bare market price plus shipping and FFL fee – which is often significantly less than the hardware store (to say nothing of the overcharging gun store) – and is a service that Walmart doesn’t offer.  And that local FFL is his own small business anyway – so I am patronizing a different small business; and I as the customer get my exact choice, not what a store has in stock or in their catalog.

To add as a note to that, FFL fees are usually pretty low.  Many FFL holders do transfers (that is, doing the 4473 background check sheet and NICS phone call), for as low as $20.  In most areas, fees will range anywhere from $15-30.  Here locally, there are only two stores that do them.  One is the hardware store, that charges $50… or $75 if they claim that they “could’ve ordered it for you”.  The other is the gun store, that charges $50… or 10% of the cost of the rifle, whichever is higher.  For reference, something like a pretty nice Winchester Model 70 would run you a $75 transfer fee, while something like a DPMS 20″ AR for varmint hunting would be a $94 transfer fee, and something like a fancy Dan Wesson 1911 would run you a $178 fee, for what’s normally a $20 service.  That fee for roughly 5 minutes worth of work filling out a sheet of paper and making one phone call is the result of a monopoly (or in this case, collusion of a two-store oligopoly – though I suspect that their practices derive from that the gun store used to be the monopoly).  They can screw over the customer as much as they like – and guess what?  You HAVE to pay it, or you have to drive, because they’re the only game in town.

The FN SCAR 17 would have a $290 transfer fee... for a $20 service.

With a small businessman who does FFL transfers, locally the fees range from $20-40, so even the highest of them is less than the two local stores that have controlled the market for years, and is much more amenable to doing business.

Now, extrapolate that same series of events above to every transaction.  If Subway isn’t there, that footlong sub may cost $8 at the local place instead of $5.  That pair of work socks from Walmart won’t be $4, it’ll be $8 at the local workwear store.  That gallon of gas without the big chain won’t be absurdly high, it’ll be highway robbery high.  With no Best Buy or Microcenter, that new budget laptop won’t be $500, it’ll be $700.

This all goes to reducing the consumer’s quality of life, reducing their amount of available income, and reducing the amount they can spend elsewhere.  The local specialty store doesn’t stand a chance when they have to compete with costs of living.  There’s no money to patronize fine arts if you have to spend all your disposable income funding the local extortionists.  There’s no money to support a good local restaurant if food bills are high from the lack of a major grocery chain.  Boycotting the businesses that allow for survival in difficult economic times will help no one but the local monopoly or colluding oligopoly.

$10 at Walmart. Or $20 at the local general store, since where else will you buy socks?

Without a store to stock an item you’d like to purchase at a price you’re willing to pay, it’ll be a return to the days of the Sears Catalog – where everyone ordered what they couldn’t get.  Of course, local businesses and big stores alike are opposed to the internet, where you can find anything you want, often buying directly from your fellow consumers.

Small businesses often adapt by selling their wares online, and big businesses follow suit by expanding their sales online – unless that too becomes restricted – again hurting the customer.  Mike’s erroneous anti-Walmart stance, and any other wistful luddite economic ideas ignore that protectionism within the United States is just a bad idea for the consumer and a bad idea for all but the specific business begging for a favor (i.e., the local monopoly resenting Walmart making them compete).  Consumer choice benefits from the decreased expenses of necessities from either shopping at Walmart, or shopping at competitors who are forced to compete and reduce prices, and consumer choice benefits from having greater useable income due to those reduced expenses – which in turn helps good small businesses.