Tuesday, February 03, 2004

LA politicians and those in their orbit are busy analyzing the possible effects of allowing Wal-Mart to do business in the area. The thinly disguised goal is to limit consumer choice so that established sellers (contributors and supporters) do not have to compete. Consumers (decidedly those not among "the rich) stand to lose.

Cities and counties around the country have all sorts of "economic development" departments and agencies. The label is, of course, Orwellian. Economic development means "creative destruction" (J. Schumpeter) and most politicians have a stake in the status quo.

There are, after all, easily accessible market tests of how well Wal-Mart serves society; their bottom-line and prospects are reflected in the performance of their equities. All the studies and discussions are superfluous and revealing of the damage that local leaders have it in their power to inflict. These people, moreover, get a free ride because there really are two groups that pay attention: 1) established retailers who have a real stake and attempt to compete via politics rather than via market competition; and 2) the remaining politically involved: elites including media who are abysmally ignorant of the fact that profits are auspicious signals.