The Flip Side of Outlawing Wal-Mart

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Back when Sergio use to work here we would have arguments all the time about Wal-Mart. One argument I remember was whether or not the government had the right to say a Wal-Mart could not open a store in the community. I, being the good libretarian that I am, believe government should have little to no say when it comes to what is done with Private Property. The other argument is that a community as a righ to decide what it does and does not want and make laws accordingly.

The problem is that if you declare it is OK for government to determine what can be done with private property the opposite of outlawing Wal-Mart must also be true. There was an article in the WSJ yesterday of how many local governments are using the power of Emminent Domain to force small business owners out to allow big-box companies like Costco and Wal-Mart to take over. They do this because these large retailers bring in more tax revenues which is vital for these cash-strapped communities.

So where is the line? How do you solve this problem? For me its simple. You do not allow government to determine winners and losers in a business enviroment. If the community doesn't like Wal-Mart than don't shop there. With no customers Wal-Mart has to eventually close its doors. Want a Wal-Mart, OK, but don't take someone's private property just so you can do it. If nobody comes to the stores on that piece of land soon enough the doors will have to be closed. Free Markets!


Anonymous said...

People in the community could decide to boycott the new WalMart, but people from outside would still flock in, overloading the streets with traffic, etc, which is the real objection of the people in the community.
I think regulating use of property is a legitimate function of government. Otherwise I could decide to store radioactive waste in my garage or operate a disco out of my house.
The emminent domain abuse is a problem - are governing bodies acting on their own or according to the will of the people they represent?


T said...

No, I agree that there are limits to what one can do with private property, storing nuclear waste is definitely one of them.

However, deciding the economic winners and losers in business is not one of them.

And yes, people outside the community can come and shop at your Wal-mart but my question is then where do you draw the line? Saying its a problem and saying government can just make a law ignores the fact that you have now given government the power to decide winners in business. The point of the post is that the opposite problem thus arises, a government has the right, and does so in many communities, to sieze land from small business owners so that large corporations can use the land.