My friend Kevin Aldrich comments on my post Cows and Computers ...
Every week my wife gives Walmart about $300 for which we get groceries and other necessaries for our family of nine cheaper than anywhere else. What is so bad about that? If their prices go too high or the quality is too low, we and millions of others will vote with our feet and go elsewhere. Why should the government give an unfair advantage to businesses which are not as efficient as Walmart? Walmart puts others out of business because people voluntarily choose not to patronize those other businesses.
The problem, Kevin is you can't vote with your feet when you're on a chain gang.
When Wal-Mart moves into a rural area, their size allows them either to offer loss-leaders or to sell at prices that are far cheaper than the independent grocers, who cannot buy cheap in large quantities from their suppliers the way Wal-Mart can. This has resulted in the closing of independent groceries and retail outlets, and has contributed to the decimation of Main Street U.S.A. Yes, consumers patronize Wal-Mart freely at first, but they do so because of Wal-Mart's unfair advantage; there comes a point, however, when the absence of competition means the choice is no longer free - and no longer a choice . For once competition has been eliminated in any market anywhere, see what happens to prices and customer service. Remember when Southwestern Bell and the other Bells were the only game in town? Outrageous pricing, rude service, and contempt for the customer was the norm. The same thing happens even today with cable companies that have licensed monopolies in their communities. If you can't see the dangers of unfair competition and monopoly, you are hardly a free market capitalist. For the end result of an unregulated "free market" is anything but a "free market".
A Distributist would simply say, "Let's keep a free market free, and let's keep individual men free. There is a limit to the size of a business. Past a certain point an unfair advantage kicks which crushes competition and which leads, eventually, to a de facto slave state and to corporate control of government. The means of production should not be concentrated in only a very few hands. Whenever this has happened throughout history, misery and suffering for the vast number of people has been the result. A town is better off when consumers can indeed vote with their feet. Competition is good and healthy for the economy; but unrestrained capitalism, like socialism, eventually destroys competition."
In brief, if you were once a small shop owner, now working for Wal-Mart, the company that put you out of business, this is hardly a good thing for you and for our country - speaking either economically or morally.