South Park and Wal*Mart
I'm going to tell you all of a guilty pleasure of mine that some may be disgusted by: I watch South Park. I think it is funny, I think it is crass, and I think that they do a great, non-partisan job of cramming morals down American's throats. It amuses me and I enjoy the show, especially after spending most of my television time watching the events on C-Span. One of the most interesting episodes was the Wal*Mart episode, which did a pretty wonderful job of exposing "America's favorite store" for the fraudulent crap peddler that it is.
Something Wall-Mart This Way ComesAs always, the show is funny and it does a great job of bashing and supporting both the argument for and against Wal*Mart. However, what was different about this particular episode was a specific exchange of dialogue that I now use whenever speaking of the atrocities of Wal*Mart, and it seems that the rest of the country is catching on to its sheer brilliance and common sense.
Original air Date: 2004-11-03
The streets of South Park are like a ghost-town when a giant Wall-Mart lures all the townspeople to the new store with its incredible bargains. Cartman becomes a boy possessed by the power of Wall-Mart and its low, low prices. In order to save their town, Stan and Kyle have to find a way to destroy the ever-expanding superstore while keeping Cartman from stabbing them in the back.
As the boys of South Park attempt to try to figure out how Wal*Mart can keep their prices down for consumers, an interesting point is made; a point that I cannot argue because of it's simple truth. Bear with me; a sound byte for the specific exchange is not available on the web, but the gyst of the conversation is as follows...
In order for Wal*Mart to become and remain "America's favorite store", Wal*Mart must keep their prices very low. By keeping prices low, Wal*Mart keeps their competition at bay, and they draw in more customers as other stores fight to stay competetive or in business at all. As more and more consumers flock to Wal*Mart, it is only natural that companies that charge higher prices suffer in the business community, and many eventually succumb to the price war or close their doors altogether. Eventually, Wal*Mart grows and builds more stores, while other businesses are faced with bankrupcy and closure.Easy enough to follow so far, eh? And yes; I am fully aware that the above is not only the opinion of the South Park writers, but the opinion of many economists and consumers worldwide. For more information, please see this lengthy article for a plethora of examples regrading Wal*Mart and the American economy.
Now, here is the $1 million question, pholks...a question also addressed in this specific episode of South Park:
What happens when Wal*Mart forces the majority of other surrounding businesses to close? What happens when there is no longer competition for Wal*Mart and the American shopper?Well, I think I know what happens, and the boys of South Park agree with me. I think that Wal*Mart will finally be able to raise their prices, and without any other options available, the American consumer will be forced to pay higher prices for products they were "getting a deal on" just weeks before. Once the prices rise to the prices those now defunct Ukrops' stores were demanding, how enjoyable will it be to shop in a warehouse sized grocery store as opposed to the once beloved corner market? And where is the freedom for the American consumer?
I guess it can be found somewhere in aisle 1,675, on the clearance rack, marked "no longer in stock, buy 2 get 1 free."