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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 6, 2005 / 5 Kislev, 5766

Wal-Mart and retail innovation

By Rich Lowry


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A new documentary, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," trashes the much-maligned discount retailer. What the company's executives are now encountering is the high cost of progress. The political reaction against Wal-Mart is the latest iteration of the fear and loathing that greets any major innovation in American retailing.


A new paper from the Competitive Enterprise Institute details the long history of resistance to retail advances. In the late 19th century, the advent of department stores caused outrage. The same reaction met the rise of mail-order catalogs, which were burned in public at the behest of local retailers. The rise of chain stores in the 1920s also inflamed local merchants, who claimed that they threatened "the future of the children."


Now, it's Wal-Mart's turn. Founder Sam Walton realized that by offering customers discount prices he could make more profits based on increased volume. Hence, the Wal-Mart revolution, and the movement against it that "The High Cost" celebrates. Wal-Mart is faring the film surprisingly well, since its release has coincided with the publication of studies that debunk the image of the company crucifying its employees on a cross of low wages and nonexistent benefits as it forces them onto welfare.


The first thing to know about low price is that it has a wonderfully low cost for Wal-Mart customers, a category that includes 8 in 10 Americans a year. A study by Global Insight — paid by Wal-Mart to study the company's economic effects, but granted independence — estimated that Wal-Mart lowered the consumer price index by 3.1 percent between 1985 and 2004, making for $263 billion in consumer savings by 2004. In a widely cited report, Jason Furman of New York University notes that Wal-Mart and other discount stores make "consumers better off by the equivalent of 25 percent of annual food spending.


But only at the price of wage slavery? No, Wal-Mart's average wage of roughly $9 an hour is on par with other retailers. Because the jobs tend to be low-skill, retail workers earn less than the average wage for all U.S. workers. According to Furman, this has been the case for the past 20 years and holds true even in areas without Wal-Marts.


Three-quarters of Wal-Mart workers are full time. Other retailers have work forces that are only 20 percent to 40 percent full time. And Wal-Mart offers health insurance to full-time and part-time employees, which is rare in retail. Eighty-six percent of Wal-Mart employees have health insurance; 48 percent through Wal-Mart's plan.


Although "The High Cost" attacks Wal-Mart as a welfare queen, only about 5 percent of Wal-Mart employees are on Medicaid, the same proportion as other retailers. Furman points out that a Wal-Mart worker who has to decide whether to buy the company's family insurance policy at a cost of $1,800 annually or take Medicaid coverage instead is wise to go on Medicaid. "The beneficiary of choosing Medicaid is the worker," Furman writes, "not Wal-Mart."


Because Wal-Mart is a behemoth, critics assume that it can change its wage and benefits policies on a whim. According to Furman, Wal-Mart earns $6,000 per employee. That's below the national average of $9,000 per employee. Wal-Mart makes $288 billion of revenue on $277 billion of costs, a 3.7 percent profit margin on costs, which leaves little room for error.


It is true, as the CEI paper notes, that Wal-Mart jobs are poorly paid compared to unionized jobs. Grocery clerks at unionized stores in California get paid nearly $18 an hour. But Wal-Mart passes its lower costs on to customers, who pay 17 percent to 39 percent less for groceries there.


In this sense, the self-styled humanitarians who object to Wal-Mart are narrowed-minded defenders of a special interest. If they get their way, they might better the lot of retail employees, but at the cost of the community, including people who aren't fortunate enough to have a retail job but who still have to buy clothes and food. And so the anti-Wal-Mart zealots oppose the general welfare and an innovation that has promoted it. Hasn't it always been thus?

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© 2005 King Features Syndicate

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