WalMart: from both sides now

Many of my fellow progressives have a negative image of WalMart, despite having never shopped there or knowing very little about the company. Yes, they do have their downsides and their problems, but there are also positive things that could be said about WalMart.

In an attempt to find out the truth about America's largest retailer, I recently left the comfortable confines of Brentwood and ventured to the far northern San Fernando Valley, specifically a part of Los Angeles - not its own city - oddly called "Panorama City". Inside, the store was a beehive of activity, as lower-wage workers scurried hither and yon fetching and stocking products and helping other lower-wage workers of other companies. While it certainly wasn't Rodeo Drive, it had a certain elegance of its own: those who can afford little are able to buy quality products that they could otherwise not afford.

We progressives sometimes put policy ahead of cold, hard fact. WalMart fills a market that would otherwise go unfilled, and helps those who we claim to try to help. Give them a break, I say.

And, as for SR 3482, the state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance, a quick scan shows that all across the country, newspaper editorial boards - no great friends of business - are ripping the bills. Perhaps they should visit their local WalMarts and see who they'd be affecting.