Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Consumerism vs. Religion & The Death of Palestine

(Hat tip: Mommy x2)

The New York Times has an interesting article on Monsey and Walmart. Apparently, people in Monsey are upset about Walmart's plan to build a store on Route 59, right in the heart of Monsey. Walmart is doing everything it can to make the people in Monsey happy, including planning on covering magazine covers (much like Pathmark does on Route 59) and other things. I see that Orthomom already discusses the issues in a little more detail, but I simply don't understand the complaint here.

There is already a Walmart just further down Route 59 in Airmont, about 2 miles away from the proposed site. There are plenty of Jews shopping there anytime we've gone. I don't believe that having another one is suddenly making the community feel over-exposed to the outside world. More importantly, the economic boost from having a Walmart to consumers is incredible, particularly for families with many children who can now buy things at much lower prices in greater quantities. If the real problem is the feared negative effect on the "mom-'n-pop" stores, they should say so... that's a legitimate concern for those people (though the net effect on the local economy is still strongly positive). I simply don't understand the big deal.

Finally, there's a wonderful piece in today's Wall Street Journal called Who Killed Palestine? It's really well written and makes some excellent points.


  1. The big deal for me is that religion does have something to say about how we run consumer business, and mine disagrees with some of the things that Wal-Mart does. Forcing employees to work off the clock or "locked-in" overnight, predatory pricing to drive competitors out of business, and extortion of suppliers is not something upon which Judaism looks favorably.

    (This seems to be the topic of the day for Jewish blogs -- DovBear and Hametza also discussed it.)

  2. Those of you in the Midwest should try Meijer instead of Wal-Mart. Big and cheap, too, but cleaner, and with faster checkout. More and more of the Meijer store branded items have been showing OU supervision.

  3. Bob - Thanks.

    Charlie - I'm more concerned with price gouging by others, particularly in frum communities where there is no reason the prices should be anywhere near where they are. I don't consider running a business well predatory nor extortion of suppliers.

    I don't know much about the "off the clock" or "locked in" stuff.

    I don't buy the incredibly weak arguments about underpaying employees, which you did not mention but DB did. CWY's pointed, simple response (which we've all discussed before) pretty much sums up why that's untrue.

    OM also discussed it, btw, as did Musings (bloginator80).

    I don't know about the Bronx, but anywhere I've been people love Walmart - and we're talking about people on the lower end of the economic scale. It seems to be a pet project of the far-left to go after Walmart because of its big corporation status, but I wonder if most of those people are actually affected by it in any way. The people who it actually affects seem to be very happy to work there and save lots of money there.

  4. Jason Furman a former advisor to John Kerry considers Wal-Mart a progressive success story. (pdf)

  5. I am quoted in the story as Shlomo Zalman.

    The reporter took my comments somewhat out of context. Nothing surprising coming from the NYTimes (or any major media for that matter.)

    I told her I supported the store. But her angle was that everyone is against it, so she made my comments appear that way.

    Even my comments she used were not a direct quote, even though she put it in the paper as a direct quote. She took my answers and rewrote it as a direct quote.

    The quote “I don’t know if I would shop there” I did not give at all.

  6. SZ - That's really interesting. You should consider writing a (public?) letter to the NYTimes complaining.

  7. "I don't believe that having another one is suddenly making the community feel over-exposed to the outside world." - Maybe just overexposed to WalMart ;)

    The only good thing about WalMart is the kosher corn chips. Otherwise, you can have them!