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Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 7:16pmSanction this postReply
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I'm glad to see that Wal-mart is finally sticking up for itself. Having said that, I'll probably be fired from my day job at Kroger since many of my co-workers despise Walmart for being non-union (Kroger is a union operated store) even though many of them shop there.

Adam



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Post 1

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 8:57pmSanction this postReply
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I'm just curious as to how much governmental money and special treatment Wal-Mart has received and might continue to receive (if any), in order to become the overnight megalith that it became.

Ayn Rand herself was wisely skeptical of megalithic businesses, and for good reason:  self-sufficient, self-starting, and purely meritorious businessmen have a hard time becoming enormous like that.

Rand's philosophy was not very popular with big business from the beginning... They didn't promote it or respond with praise to her writings.

The people who DID admire and put Rand's philosophy into practice were the small and medium-sized businessmen, because her ideas and approaches were the keys to their success. 

Rand knew well from her own Russian background that many ultra-megalo-rich typically got there from having an incestuous relationship with big government and kings and such.

And so, Wal-Mart's protestations have me suspicious, to say the least.  I would be pleasantly surprised to be wrong, however.




Post 2

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 5:32amSanction this postReply
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Danny Silvera asked:
I'm just curious as to how much governmental money and special treatment Wal-Mart has received and might continue to receive (if any), in order to become the overnight megalith that it became.
How To Be a Billionaire by Martin Fridson outlines principles the author considers key to the titans of wealth.  Most amount to what Objectivists would expect, such as "Dominate Your Market."  But one of them, "Invest in Political Influence," Ayn Rand herself documented in her discussions about the nineteenth century railroads.  Because of the power of government to regulate businesses in adverse ways, anyone who wants to create a "megalith" must necessarily engage in this practice.  Both Fridson and Rand argue this persuasively.  Fridson regularly uses Wal-Mart to exemplify the principles he names.

I undertand Danny's frustration with these conditions, but I see no way around them until our culture achieves a solid separation of economics and state.


Luke Setzer




Post 3

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 8:54amSanction this postReply
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I undertand Danny's frustration with these conditions, but I see no way around them until our culture achieves a solid separation of economics and state.
Using politics for self-defense is one thing, but no businessman has the right to use the government to initiate force against others, period. Any business or businessman who does thereby invalidates himself and his business, and no matter what he "achieves" is something to despise not look up to.




Post 4

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 9:26amSanction this postReply
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Shayne,

I understand what you're saying, but if you apply it across the board to everyone, business owner or not, no one would be able to participate in this economy at all. There are rules and handouts aplenty for everyone. I will continue to admire, not despise, those who achieve greatness in spite of the "Alice in Wonderland" environment the bureaucrats and politicians have created for us.



Post 5

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 9:50amSanction this postReply
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Mike: Here's the deal. You post what you think is the most justifiable, most easily defended by you example of someone using the government to initiate force and I'll show you why you're flat-out wrong.




Post 6

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 3:04amSanction this postReply
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I agree with the definition above that Rand is more for the active and industrialist medium businesses.

However, I don't think that you can just say that the workers are angry because their is no union to "protect" them.
I doubt that all workers think that way and I am highly sceptical that all information from the Super-Bosses are truth and the workers are all liers or otherway round.

Truth is a three-edged sword:
The workers side, the CEO's side and the Truth in-between.




Post 7

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 7:03amSanction this postReply
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Danny,

Let me preface this by saying that I don't claim to be a Wal-Mart "expert", but I would argue that Wal-Mart is anything but an overnight success, as they have been around for more than forty years with steady growth (Microsoft; that was more overnight!). I believe that Wal-Mart is successful because of a brilliantly conceived and executed business plan. They have been able to resist unions that have stifled the competitive advantage of their competitors and have been able to leverage buying power and volume to provide their customers with lower prices. In fact, when it wants to grow, Wal-Mart typically has to get past government in order to do so. I have no reason to think that Wal-Mart has received special favors from government.

Andrew Bernstein says it pretty well:
“Sam Walton’s firm pioneered the computer management of its stock and continually finds low-cost suppliers to keep its prices down. It is the efficiency of Wal-Mart’s vast operation that enables it to provide a plethora of quality products at low prices. Such productivity should be celebrated by all Americans--even the politicians.”





Post 8

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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Shayne,

I will try to make my point more clearly. Any participant in our economy operates under a wealth of rules. I don't need to name the large number of government agencies who exist to regulate every aspect of employment and commerce in the united states. All for the supposed benefit of 'the people'; safety, security, "fairness", the environment, equality, etc. All of it based on the threat of initiation of force by the government for non-compliance. There is no justifiable, defensible example for any of this coercion. Simply complying to these unjustified rules diverts the government coercion onto those with a less compliant frame of mind and in the minds of some is an initiation of force. They call the rest of us "sheep", by the way. I think it is unfair to single out one group, "business", for what virtually everyone that participates in this economy does.



Post 9

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:20amSanction this postReply
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Mike: You failed to comprehend what I initially wrote because you are confused about the concept of "initiation of force". It is not "initiation of force" by you when someone points a gun to your head and forces you to do something.

An example of evil "businessmen" would be those who, for example, get a law passed that legally entitles them to do business in a specific market but bans competitors. I once heard a CEO brag because he had gotten such a law passed. Or those, like Sun Microsystems, who sick the antitrust dogs on Microsoft.




Post 10

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 12:06pmSanction this postReply
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However, I don't think that you can just say that the workers are angry because their is no union to "protect" them.
And you don't think that corporate CEOs form unions?  Please.  All peer groups do what they have to do, to protect themselves against unfair perceived exploitation. 

Many CEOs routinely coordinate their efforts like mad, to achieve leverage over their employees, stock-holders, AND the general public.... and their efforts "protect" them plenty.  They golf together, they hold annual and semi-annual meetings, they fix prices, they do it all.

This whole set of jargon that we were programmed with in the 1980's, to regard unions as "contemptible", was totally one-sided and Hinduistic at best, because the CEO unions were in roaring full tilt, like Mr. Creosote at Shoney's breakfast buffet.

So, my bottom line is this:  either unions are bad for EVERYBODY or they're okay for EVERYBODY.  But this garbage of "Well, unions are only bad if the 'little people' form them", is pure corruption.

(Edited by Danny Silvera on 2/10, 1:36pm)




Post 11

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 12:13pmSanction this postReply
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I understand what you're saying, but if you apply it across the board to everyone, business owner or not, no one would be able to participate in this economy at all. There are rules and handouts aplenty for everyone.
I'm glad you brought this up.

You know, I think that everybody should have access to things like governmental start-up loans and such... because you're right.  These things operate fairly and the rules apply to everyone.

However, when you show me a corporation that has received governmental aid to start up or maintain a business, and whose CEO is voting himself a pay raise while he is slashing jobs and being miserly with the rest of the company, and I'm showing you an example of who should NOT be eligible for any more governmental support, AND should be held accountable for the money that he HAS received, since apparently he has no problem siphoning all that taxpayer government money directly into his own personal paycheck.




Post 12

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
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Danny,

Yikes, I'm going to have to learn how to write clearly.

You said:

"... because you're right. These things operate fairly and the rules apply to everyone."

I didn't say that! I don't think any of it is operated fairly. I say, get rid of it all. Laissez faire. We would all be better off if the government were not a third partner [the one with the gun] in all of our affairs.





Post 13

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 1:26pmSanction this postReply
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I don't agree that these businessman are "evil". They are simply operating in an environment where coercion and legal maneuvering is the norm. I reserve the term "evil" for FDR and J. Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung. I don't agree that I'm confused about "initiation of force". Most of the workplace laws favor employees and are the result of legal maneuvers and the political clout of unions and other special interest groups (liberal politicians?). In the "class warfare" between employees and employers our popular culture [reflected in your remarks] invariably favors the employees, the "little people". That is initiation of force equal to your examples. None of it is fair. Don't adopt the popular bias against business. There are, however, businesses that exist entirely because of privilege seeking. These businesses would not exist at all if the government were not so intrusive in the economy. Walmart, in my opinion, is far from being in that category.



Post 14

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 1:54pmSanction this postReply
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I don't agree that these businessman are "evil". They are simply operating in an environment where coercion and legal maneuvering is the norm.
You have got to be kidding. The Nazis were "simply operating in an environment where coercion and legal maneuvering [was] the norm" when they gassed the Jews, but I'm going to guess that you won't be arguing in their favor in an Objectivist forum. Your defense of these corrupt businessmen is similar in principle.

And I agree that Walmart doesn't belong in this category, to my knowledge everything about that company implies that they earned their success, and indeed they are evidence that businessmen don't need to be corrupt in order to be successful, even in this mixed economy.




Post 15

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 1:54pmSanction this postReply
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I didn't say that! I don't think any of it is operated fairly. I say, get rid of it all. Laissez faire. We would all be better off if the government were not a third partner [the one with the gun] in all of our affairs.
Okay, then.  That's fine.

But we can't have it both ways... We can't have the government out of our affairs while at the same time having the option of crying to them for help.  There is such a thing as balance. 

The way things are now, many big businesses don't want government helping out the "little people" by supporting them, yet those same big businesses and their CEOs have no compunction about appealing to the government for help for themselves... apparently they know themselves well enough to know that THEY can be trusted with assistance.  *rolling eyes so much it hurts*

This is exactly the opposite of what Rand wisely argued for.  She said in effect, "Yes.  It's a jungle.  And it SHOULD be.  For EVERYONE... even big business." 

I, however, believe in focusing more on the spirit of fairness inherent in that statement, rather than in her specific conclusions, regarding equal insecurity for everyone.  I say that whether we choose laissez-faire or mutual support, that rule must be enforced for everyone... We can't have people ACCEPTING help, while throwing a Nellie Olsen-style temper tantrum about reciprocating that help back to others, which is what many CEO's and big businesses have been doing for a long time now. 

I am glad to help floundering businesses, so long as a system exists whereby they circulate that same degree of assistance back to those who help them... But what I see is a clever scheme to defeat that healthy circulation, while the periphery of the national and world economy develops gangrene. 

Personally, I have seen that this evolves naturally, even in your most laissez-faire of systems.  Even in total dog-eat-dog, people form support systems and alliance networks that amount to cooperative socialism.

And yes, even Objectivists and SOLOists -- despite all their talk about the nobility of individual struggle -- band together in private groups and cliques to grant special favors to each other, and lay down rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism), lest the non-cooperative individual face excommunication from the group. 

The only significant difference that I see between Rand's own "collective" and any socialist society, was that she gave compelling (albeit sometimes questionable) rationalizations for conformity and allegiance to the group, whereas many socialist governments rarely bother to make such good faith efforts at all. 

 




Post 16

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 2:01pmSanction this postReply
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And I agree that Walmart doesn't belong in this category, to my knowledge everything about that company implies that they earned their success, and indeed they are evidence that businessmen don't need to be corrupt in order to be successful, even in this mixed economy.
I wouldn't go this far... I have certainly heard that Wal-Mart has a well-oiled machinery for securing bids with local governments, whenever and whereever they decide to set up another store.  How are zoning laws magically rewritten to make way for a new Wal-Mart, when nobody else was previously allowed to use certains areas of land for business?

How are area governments allowed to rewrite the rules, for Wal-Mart alone?

I'd love to see how this amounts to laissez-faire... unless you're talking about "hands off" of Wal-Mart. 





Post 17

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 3:54pmSanction this postReply
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Danny,

"We can't have the government out of our affairs while at the same time having the option of crying to them for help."

That's exactly the deal with legitimate government. We give the government power to arbitrate and defend our rights, otherwise they stay out of our affairs. When someone initiates force upon us, we go "crying to the government" for help. It's called civilized behaviour. But we don't go running to the government with everything we think is a "good idea" and beg the government to implement our good idea by force on everyone else. No one should be able to do that, big business or not.

"I am glad to help floundering businesses,.."

Bad idea. Floundering business should be allowed to fail if they can't figure out a way to turn themselves around. You talk like you are from the government.

"And yes, even Objectivists and SOLOists -- despite all their talk about the nobility of individual struggle -- band together in private groups and cliques to grant special favors to each other, and lay down rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism), lest the non-cooperative individual face excommunication from the group."

The owners of a website have a right to moderate. The only "rules" of solo, as far as I can tell, are minimum civility required. People of vastly different opinions post all of the time. You call the way solo is run "socialism"?!

"The only significant difference that I see between Rand's own "collective" and any socialist society, was that she gave compelling (albeit sometimes questionable) rationalizations for conformity and allegiance to the group, whereas many socialist governments rarely bother to make such good faith efforts at all."

Rand's "collective"? This leaves me flabbergasted. I think I'll leave this for someone else. Perhaps you can give this a little more thought.



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Post 18

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 5:30pmSanction this postReply
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Danny says:
And yes, even Objectivists and SOLOists -- despite all their talk about the nobility of individual struggle -- band together in private groups and cliques to grant special favors to each other, and lay down rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism), lest the non-cooperative individual face excommunication from the group.
I know of no cliques that grant special favors to each other. Yes there are people that I grant greater latitude to, because they have earned it, there are people with whom I prefer to exchange PMs, emails and even phone calls; because I sense in them a kindred spirit. I do these things just as another member like anyone else, as you are. This is not however some form of 'socialist clique'. I must honestly say that for the most part (with a couple of notable exceptions) THE people that I most respect on this forum are the very ones with whom I have had my most heated debates and even ongoing antagonisms.

As for laying down 'mandatory rules of cooperation', ROFL - good luck brother! I defy you to name even 3 prominent people on this forum that would accept such an arrangement. In fact, when I try to visualize Lindsay 'laying down the rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism)' to Barbara Branden, Joe Rowlands, Chris Sciabarra, Marcus Bachler, or MH...ect....- it makes me laugh out loud. He would be strung up by sundown, or find himself quite alone in trying run this site. Trust me, anything less than a highly benevolent 'owner' at Solo would NOT be accepted by these people.

Excommunication at Solo? I have yet to see it. I have seen people wear out their welcome by having reached a point that is either so outlandish or so vicious that they have been thrown out of the forum. By the way, being a member of the forum is not the same as being among those that run Solo - forum membership is an internet subscription - like an interactive magazine. Banning member 999 from the forum is not the same as a David Kelley deciding to throw out Ed Hudgins from TOC. Being banned from this forum is NOT analagous to being excommunicated in the sense of the Peikoff - Kelley event. So spare me the analogies between a troll, lunatic, or wacko that gets kicked out of Solo with terms like 'excommunication'. Trust me they weren't banned because of some deep philosophical argument, there won't be a 'Truth and Toleration' forthcoming because a disturbed adolescent advocating genocide and spamming all the threads was banned.

In simpler terms: Your post was total bullshit.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 2/10, 6:08pm)




Post 19

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 5:44pmSanction this postReply
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Shayne,

You are a very smart guy, you don't need to overstate your case like this:

"The Nazis were "simply operating in an environment where coercion and legal maneuvering [was] the norm" when they gassed the Jews, but I'm going to guess that you won't be arguing in their favor in an Objectivist forum. Your defense of these corrupt businessmen is similar in principle."

The SYSTEM is corrupt. Many people are being robbed daily. Some people benefit by it; the politicians and the hoards of government "workers", the beneficiaries of "redistribution", and some businesses. Most people have adapted their lives to this environment. If we were in a purely free environment we would think differently about a lot of things. One thing that is lost in a non-free environment is goodwill towards others. When we single out a group, "businessman", as evil we lose sight of the real problem, the general lack of freedom that everyone shares. The coercion in our daily lives is corrosive. Civility is lost when we overgeneralize and overuse words like "evil".





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