Social & Domestic Issues

Occupy Wal-Mart

This past week, thousands of pro-capitalist Americans staged a counter-protest to Occupy Wall Street (OWS). We might call them Occupy Wal-Mart (OWM). Their demands include cheap flat-screen televisions, digital cameras, and iPods.

What good is a pallet of Nintendo Wii’s locked up in a shopping-mall prison?

The protest spread beyond Wal-Mart, of course, to Target, Best Buy, and other chains. The billionaire box-store owners locked out the tent-dwellers on Thursday. The “haves” inside hoarded digital gizmos and gadgets. The horde of “have-nots” outside desired them. They camped by the entrances of businesses until early Friday morning, when wealthy retailers acceded to the motley mob’s wishes. The storefront standoff served as a massive teach-in for free enterprise.

The storming of Best Buy made the storming of the Bastille appear orderly by comparison. At first glance, the have-nots rushing the gates of the haves appears as a triumph of the 99 percent over the one percent. But retailers only agreed to share their electronic bounty in exchange for customers sharing their bounty of president-paper.

Remarkable consequences ensued: consumers joyously emerged from stores, time-and-a-half employees smiled, and owners lustily counted money. The voluntary exchanges resulted in mutual satisfaction, not one-sided exploitation. The fourth Friday in November should be renamed Capitalism Day.

Occupy Wal-Mart is a global movement. It may not be concerned with jobs for third-world workers but it provides more of them than any social program Occupy Wall Street could devise. One might label this movement socially conscious if only the consumers were conscious of their beneficial effect on factory workers halfway around the globe.

But they aren’t do-gooders. They do goodies.

Why did the spontaneous demonstrations for the free market prove more effective than the organized demonstrations against it?

First, OWM advanced a specific set of demands. They wanted electronic trinkets for dirt cheap. Second, they demonstrated a willingness to compromise: consumers yielded on their on-again/off-again three-year boycott of merchants in exchange for temporary price concessions. Third, whereas socialist-squatter occupiers assume property rights where they have none, consumer occupiers curiously receive enticement to continue their on-site occupation by the occupied. Fourth, the OWM protest served as a means to an end; for OWS, the means of protest is its own end. That’s the clear message sent by the talking drums of OWS drum circles.

OWM’s commitment to giving other people money proved greater than OWS’s commitment to taking other people’s money. Occupy Wall Street abandoned encampments on Thanksgiving Day. Occupy Wal-Mart’s tent cities reached capacity late that night. Judging by the designer clothes and technophile accoutrements on display in Zuccotti Park, at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and on the Embarcadero, the two Occupy movements aren’t mutually exclusive. If the city campers don’t do Gap and Macy’s, then their moms at least do. This is socialism’s way of admitting the superiority of capitalism.

There are other similarities, to be sure, between the movements. Envy-inspired violence mars the communists and the consumers.

Kinston, North Carolina cops, perhaps receiving the same training as the UC-Davis police force, cracked down on Occupy Wal-Mart rowdies by unleashing pepper spray. Gunfire erupted outside a Wal-Mart in San Leandro, California, just as it had earlier at nearby Occupy Oakland. At Occupy Victoria’s Secret outside of Pittsburgh, women traded blows over yoga pants.

Zealous shoppers, like zealous socialists, make their movement look bad—which isn’t easy to do in sexy form-fitting Victoria’s Secret yoga britches.

Capitalism is cooperation. People anonymous to one another nevertheless mutually improve each others’ lives through voluntary exchange. Socialism is force. Distant experts micromanage supply and frustrate demand while exploiting the makers on behalf of the takers.

Occupy Wal-Mart has gone home to watch plasma televisions in the comfort of their living rooms. Occupy Wall Street continues to sleep in the cold amidst their own waste.

Is everybody clear why Americans choose capitalism over socialism?

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  • a_gryphon

    Now that’s funny I don’t care who ya are !

  • Genna2

    Thus far, most Americans have viewed the OWS protesters through the kindly and politically biased lens of the mainstream media.  While camping out and causing chaos in NY, LA, Chicago and anywhere else they can draw attention to themselves, the media has struggled to convince us that the protesters have a legitimate point to make that  ultimately benefits all Americans.  It has mostly ignored who these people are, what they want and the reality of what they’re doing, a reality that’s hurting, not helping, the 99% they claim they’re part of. 
    Protesting outside local retailers and interfering with holiday shoppers who patronize those retailers brings the movement home, so to speak, where regular Americans – most of whom already have a negative opinion of the OWS protests – can see and hear the protesters up close and personal, without the friendly media filter.  Not an attractive sight, to say the least.  And then they can compare what they’ve heard on NBC’s six o’clock news and from their favorite liberal politicians to what they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears and the comparison won’t be favorable either to the protesters, the politicians or NBC.

  • 8Pillars

    Several Valid issues continue to be ignored – that is not leadership; no one is showing leadership because of Fear.  It’s too dismissive, black-and-white and, worst of all, one-dimensional, ‘slogan-based’ thinking to label all protesters as ‘socialists’ and ‘anti-capitalists’.  To be sure, most are morons, idiots or even well-intentioned callow people who don’t understand The System and therefore don’t understand what they are even babbling about.

    There are a handful of protesters to whom no one has responded with any meaningful understanding or intelligence:  the hard-working, honest folks who recognize what has happened and want answers and change.  They are not ‘anti-capitalism’ but are ‘anti-ABUSE of capitalism’.  No one has acknowledged this small, but important group!  Everyone seems to believe that NO Abuses took place?  That NO dishonest players ruined it for the vast majority who followed the rules?  That NO totally inappropriate risks were taken with OPM (OtherPeople’s Money)!?!

    They recognize that there was serious malfeasance by a handful of dishonest crooks who ABUSED the capitalist system – a system that literally built this great Nation and raised standards of living across the board.  But where are the answers to them about the undeniable Abuse?  The dishonesty, short-cuts and especially those who took illegal and/or unethical and absolutely inappropriate with OPM.  Imagine YOUR life’s saving squandered because Lehman Bros. played with it like so much toy money – Win?  Everyone does well, but the money managers get Rich!  Lose!?!  Oops.  Oh well, it wasn’t the firm’s money nor any managers – but the managers get their % fee, you can guarantee that!  And the honest, hardworking American supporting a family and whose money was Lost!?!  WHO speaks for that group – it is larger than anyone acknowledges. articles show utter bias and seek to sweep it under the rug.  That’s dishonest.

    Who will address the bona fide concerns of these honest Americans?  Who will even answer them?  HE.COM is beating a dead horse over and over with easy, simplistic labels that make good slogans, AS IF how anyone chooses (in a Free Country) how to dress!?!  Does that make their questions and issues any different?  How they Choose to live is their absolute prerogative, just as it is yours and NO American gets to Judge them.

    Who will admit that Abuses, Dishonesty and Risk with OPM helped push this great Nation into the Great Recession AND where is the Accountability!?! 

  • AgTrotter

    “Everyone seems to believe that NO Abuses took place?”

    Actually, I’m not really sure who you might be talking about. I think most sane Americans acknowledge that there were abuses and corruption. We just don’t believe that the solution will be found in a tent next to someone crapping in public.

    Of course, the real dishonesty here is not first acknowledging the true culprits at the center of the financial meltdown – the federal government.

  • Richard Wehrle

    This article is bullocks. Aside from being completely pathetic for trying to make a puny, if even real, Conservative pro-Corporate “movement” seem legitimate, and attempting to paint the real global populist movement as somehow just another pet project of the liberal media, it’s a poorly written joke by a man who looks like a boring shell of a cubicle dweller.

  • 8Pillars

    We agree – and what I’m talking about is the meaningless, mindless fixation on Tents, Tattoos, morons making speeches while these Abuses continue to be IGNORED by the same people.  Why is so much valuable time, effort and article space taken up repeating the same biased garbage about how they smell!?!

    WHEN will have the guts to address the real problems, these Abuses.  Can you point to ANY of the 20+ articles on about OWS that deals with those real issues?  The Government is absolutely the culprit, but could never, ever have caused this much damage without it’s Partner in Crime – those dishonest crooks who abused the great capitalist system.  So why is it that there are No Articles, when their ought to be 20+ on that alone and one funny one talking about tattoos (which, last I checked, was the full prerogative of an American Citizen to CHOOSE).  Judge not, lest…

  • Guest

    My wife occupied Walmart on Black Friday.Waited 3 hours for the electronics to go on sale and got a nice 40 inch LCD TV.Capitalism is good .People sell and people buy.

  • Dustoff

    LOL.   Good for her

  • Stratosaurus

    Most sane people stay away in droves.  It’s the true loonies who get out at 0300 and wait in the cold for two hours.  I was at a local electronics big-box store yesterday (Sunday) and the salesman said that the stuff that was ridiculously low-priced (like a 15.6″ laptop for $178) and some of the real inexpensive desktops were sold out in less than a half-hour.  I dunno ’bout you, but if I stayed up, and stood inline for a couple hours to wait for a midnight store opening, only to find that what I wanted was sold out, I’d be more irritated at myself for buying into the whole Black-Friday-hype thing than in not being able to get what I wanted.  There’d HAVE to be something absolutely astounding for me to go out for a BF sale.

  • 8Pillars

    You make some good points (though too much blame-game and over simplified ‘they are 100% wrong; we are 100% right’ – doesn’t work that way, plenty of blame to go around).  Much of what you describe regarding ‘cronyism’ applies across-the-board.  And I for absolutely minimal regulation, etc. but there have and continue to be so many instances of Abuses, Dishonesty, etc. that we need to find a way to address THAT more effectively.

    When there isn’t even Accountability for those who helped cause the Recession, what hope can we have that the Abuses will even stop?  They are No Risk – win and you win big, get caught and they make you promise not to do it again (literally, see SEC enforcement actions).