Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006 | In re: Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, Big Oil, Starbucks and other chains like them are agents of economic colonialism; their presence in a locality drives out local establishments, usually by underselling competitors because their huge purchasing power means they can sell at retail for less than other businesses can buy for wholesale. Chains remove the money earned from outlets to corporate headquarters elsewhere, tending to slowly bleed localities of coin. In addition, jobs generated by chains rarely grow the sort of entrepreneurship from employees that smalls do and demand consumers conform to a “foreign” ideal rather than allow locals to develop businesses that are organically in sync with their community.

Such concerns can be gleaned from the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; those concerns and the social, economic and cultural problems they create are rightly the concern of elected officials who represent those whose pockets are to be picked by chains, and whose lives and perhaps economic futures are to be impacted by them as well. It isn’t “shopping police” or the “the free market” as some letter authors have unfortunately stated; its the transformation of the consumer from an individual to an insignificant mass component in a mass economy that blights the local community and exports hard currency out of town and out of the United States. In a time of war and extravagant, mounting national debt, this is suicide on a national, economic scale.

Watch your wallets, people; those low prices will cost you plenty soon enough. San Diego’s City Council ought to be commended for slowing down this anaconda before it blights, bankrupts and homogenizes us all.

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