A refreshing analysis of the Procter & Gamble-Gillette deal by James Surowiecki in the current New Yorker ("The Customer Is King", but no link to the article that I could find) notes that, while the popular view is that these manufacturers need the added clout to deal with powerful Wal-Mart, it is more likely that Wal-Mart's clout really reflects consumers' new power. "The real transformation of the past 30 years is not the rise of the of the American retailer but the rise of the American consumer. That's why Wal-Mart is so tough to negotiate with and so relentless in its quest for lower prices and lower costs." Yes, progress is a good thing.
Wal-Mart The Predator has become almost a staple of mainstream media. Yet, the old-media New Yorker maintains the good sense to have writers like Surowiecki who occasionally rattles the blue-state worldview.