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Can You Answer This Left-Wing Defender of Controlled Local Markets?

Written by Gary North on March 5, 2013

I wrote an article on a far-Left critic of the free market. His name is James Howard Kunstler. You can read it here: http://www.garynorth.com/public/10717.cfm.

He responded in the tried and true way that most Lefties respond when they cannot answer your arguments. He cried “fascist.” Better than that: he cried “corn-pone Nazi.” You can read his response here: http://kunstler.com/blog/2013/03/reply-to-gary-north.html

Can you answer him? If you can’t, you do not understand the logic of the free market. Then you have a problem. You should be able to handle this poorly equipped fellow without much trouble. But if you cannot follow my arguments or his, you need to read Henry Hazlitt’s little book, Economics in One Lesson (1946). Click the title to download your free copy.

Here’s a tip. Read my article. Then read his. Can you write down my three major points? Can you write down his refutations?

Did he offer any refutations?

Question: Has he ever heard of Amazon?

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48 thoughts on “Can You Answer This Left-Wing Defender of Controlled Local Markets?

  1. GreyHawk says:

    JH Knustler no doubt is a fascist/commie/Nazi, all the same thing. He needs to be banished to North Kores where he belongs.

  2. Gene Poole says:

    Careful, there may be a guy named JH Knustler who's a red-blooded American like you and who'll get his door broken down one night by the Thought Police on the strength of your denunciation. Or as Our Lord said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged in your turn."

  3. CountryBoy says:

    The problem is that Knustler is right on mutiple issues. I have seen for myself the devestation that occurs to local businesses when Walmart comes to town. All of the local business that had quality merchandise go under because of the cheap items made in China or Tiawan that Walmart sells. It is U.S. jobs vs. the Made-in-China label. Or they sell a product that is so cheap, that the small mom and pop shop can actually get it cheaper at Walmart than thru their own wholesaler. And when when you become dependant on Walmart for certain products, including medicines, they discontinue them. There is NO service after the sale at Walmart on the items you purchase. Many a honest living has been LOST due to Walmart coming to town.

  4. gfsomsel says:

    What is the point of attempting to answer a liberal such as this man? His mind is already made up and the facts will not convince him since he's to stupid (yes, stupid, not ignorant) to be influenced by facts.

  5. Freedom Lover says:

    I think Knustler is a hustler, but that seems to be beside the point, in my opinion. The back and forth reminds me of a number of forum exchanges that I have read that break down into personal attacks and little light or reason shines forth. It is obvious that you disagree, but BOTH of you have resorted to hyperbolic labeling and name-calling. There is a measure of "government too big" in BOTH of your viewpoints, but you will probably never agree because of your other issues. I challenge you to find a way to affirm the good points and find enough unity to counter the forces that will see the demise of freedoms we value in common. Please see to it.

  6. Two words: Atlas Shrugged.

  7. I would like everyone to go to Kunstler's article and read the comments underneath it. The completely vapid, mindless comments are instructive. When I was a teacher who taught argumentation and logic, I used to be amazed that some students could not grasp when there was or was not proof of their assertions. No amount of reasoning or convincing could sway some of my students to consider a proposition that they did not already believe. Some students were so obstinate that it would be safe to say that you couldn't convince them that grass is green. I think it would be equally safe to conclude that all of Kunstler's defenders fall into the category of people so dense that one couldn't jam "smarts" into their heads on the tip of a spike.

    Kunstler's defenders never seem to realize that all of the local jobs that were lost to Big Box stores were lost for a reason, often high prices or limited hours of operation in comparison to the Big Box stores and that these losses were not necessarily bad — customers could shop at more convenient hours and get cheaper prices. What has proven to be bad is the micromanaging hand of the benevolent government that they wish to have, government that chooses winners and losers. If it were not for the masses of regulations that government has assailed our nation with, the former town businesses likely would have been replaced with other businesses that were filling niches that Walmart cannot compete in. The Big Box stores cannot be all things to all people. The United States would likely have hundreds of thousands or millions more manufacturing jobs. The founder of Subway said recently that if he had to try to start his company today, it wouldn't exist: the laws are too complex, the hurdles are too great. Kunstler foresees a bleak future for this country. If it happens, it will be because the nanny state that he so adores, and which already is smothering our country, is already supposedly "protecting" us from ourselves.

  8. Whether Walmart, Walgreens, McDonalds, Home Depot, IKEA, or you pick one… it seems the old saw of "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" has never been more obvious. Only through the collectivist destruction of capitalism and its replacement by governmental control will the moms and pops be reinstated in poorly performing businesses that exist only because true competition has been eliminated. Quasi monopolies, if you will, sustained by regulation and illlicit appeal to "fairness" or some such doublespeak. For all who would instill such a system, there seemsnever to be any thought to the international size and scope of our markets, or such concepts as the distribution of labor that lifts the entire enterprise – only protectionism to keep the laborers marginally fed and under control. Yes, Atlas Shrugged.

  9. Herb1949 says:

    I have no problem with being judged. I judge myself every day, and judge others by the same standard I hold myself to.
    Why should you worry about being judged?
    If it were against the law to be a logical, reasoning person, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
    Probably not.

  10. Herb1949 says:

    The purpose of a retail business is to stock, sell and service products that people want, at a price people are willing to pay.
    It has been my experience that the businesses that couldn't make it, when WalMart came into an area were not providing the products, price or service that people wanted.
    Maybe those businesses should have taken a hard look at their business plan BEFORE WalMart came into the area.

  11. CountryBoy says:

    Oh, by the way, I am a Conservative that grew up in one of those small towns that Walmart destroyed. After they came to town, over a dozen small businesses closed their doors within a couple of years.

  12. Gary Harper says:

    I enjoyed and miss the local merchants who were displaced by Wal Mart and other big box stores. The reality is that those big box stores are more economically viable. Society is better off when our scarce resources are directed to more efficient operations and the less efficient operators either go out of business or change to another line of business where they can be efficient. I do miss the warm customer service, but we paid a dear price for that – the cost was not justified by the service. Too many people confuse economics with governance; and governance is becoming more and more cloudy as it focuses more on "fairness" and "social justice" rather than economic efficiency. We would all be better off if governments stuck to their reason for being – protecting citizens and their property. Governments should stop gerrymandering with the economy and allow the market system to determine which businesses survive and which fail. The market system always gets it right; but government has a poor record of always getting it WRONG!

  13. The way things are changing, using logic may be trumped by emotion, making a person who is rational, logical, and reasoning, an unlawful person.

  14. Is there not an incredible irony in the fact that this guy's site is full of sidebar ads for Amazon….

  15. The same thing that you complain about with Walmart is true of Kroger and or other big food chains. If you disagree with what they sale don't buy it. If you are against abortion don't have one, or better yet adopt a child that was born with addictions, and or brain damage due to the parents disregard for the childs health. Better yet wake up and realize that all the knowledge in the world is worthless if you don't use it and don't resort to voodoo, or some other religon used in place of common sense. believe in God or whatever you choose, but don't let it make you an idiot.

  16. I live in a very rural backwoods area. The county seat which has a WalMart is 17 miles away. Before they (WM) came to town folks had to drive 60 miles to get the goods at the prices they wanted and believe me they planned the trips and stocked up when they went. The same thing applied to the Aldi store which was even further away. The local WM here now employs more people than the mom & pop's that were displaced by it.

    I went to the Kunstler blog and read some of the comments and I would not waste the time to reply to any of them or Kunstler himself. Nothing can be added to a vessel that's already full.

  17. Sooooo………I guess it's better to have the government take over all retail stores to distribute our monthly free government allowance/allotment huh? Despite the fact that I hate that your side of the ailse forced business to China and that Walmart has taken advantage of that, I still believe in a truly "free competitive" market. That's where the rub is….your side wants communism and total government dependence of the proletariate. Your side wants to reverse/switch the American way of life from the government working for the people to the people working for the government. That way we're all "equal" right? Please go rent "Animal Farm".

  18. CountryBoy says:

    Remember that the next time one of YOUR neighbors goes out of business for selling Made-in-America goods, and a company comes in with the CHEAP Made-in-China label like Walmart does. How knows, maybe it will be YOUR job.

  19. I guess what I'm saying in a nutshell is "controlled freedom" is an oxymoron.

  20. The communist democrat liberals in their support of communist China back in 2006 started over regulating business in this country to force large chains like Walmart to China. Soon…….if BO gets his way his regime will take over all retail business and the oil companies just like Maxine Waters said. THAT is a problem.

  21. CountryBoy says:

    "If you disagree with what they sale don't buy it" …. We didn't for a long time, but what can you do when all of the other businesses are GONE and they are now your ONLY choice. It is currently what the government is trying to do to us, but on another level. And I don't know why you are calling me an idiot….. What did I do to insult you??

  22. I_P_Frehley says:

    I agree that neither you, me or the government can legislate the same results for all businesses. Regardless of the field being relatively equal in opportunity, it still comes down to putting in the effort to remain competitive. Nobody goes into business to break even.

  23. Shane, you should post under your name and not use an alias.

  24. Kunstler is not smart enough to be a fascist. He’s an irrational, blithering idiot. If he’s not an Obama speech writer, he should be.

  25. Kunstler decries the shuttering of mom and pop stores, places like the corner book store. Yet he sells his books on Amazon, even offering them in the electronic book format taking jobs away from printers and book binders. I this a double standard?

  26. Country Boy can type two sentences in a row without whining, hysterics or using potty language. So it obviously isn't Shane.

  27. Wow, you are way off on this one. Walmart is not a champion of the free market. Walmart skewers the market in its favor through government intervention. That is NOT free market, and you know better.

  28. Jackingtheleft says:

    I just read Kunstler's article as well as some of the posts that followed. Man, the communist, anti-American flag was flying high over there. No one produced any facts just vitreol against Gary North and Doug Casey. They are almost all spouting the "Peak Oil" hysteria and "It's America's Fault" garbage that dirve them to our destruction.

  29. A Murricun says:

    I just get all tingly when they go /ad hominem/ like that!

    Yes, I could answer him with some /ad hominem/ that would curl his toes. I could elevate his consciousness to the marvels of mil-spec verbal abuse. However, one does not do that except among consulting adults or where it can’t be attributed to one.

    The proper way to deal with cases like this is to toss them into the basket labeled “basket cases” and let it go at that.

  30. Leoopold Bloom says:

    I thought Nixon was the guy who opened up to China first. I didn't realise Nixon was a communist back in 1972.

  31. Leopold Bloom says:

    "Consulting adults"? I suppose you were searching for the phrase "consenting adults"? You seem to deplore ad hominem arguments, yet your little mousy contribution ends up being precisely that – a contribution to ad hominem argument.

  32. Karl Marx says:

    North, like too many in Uncle Samland, is the one who starts this playground name-calling. All argument stops when you use the word "left" or "leftist" (which then quickly slides into "commie" and (even, and weirdly) "fascist".)

    In my town of approx. 350,000 population, the coming of Walmart many years ago seemed to have no visible effect on other businesses in the city. Good. Why? Because WM may (sometimes) be cheaper than local competitors, but only by a few nickels and dimes on small products and a dollar or two on large items. Intelligent people think twice about driving five to ten miles to save 75 cents or $2, depending on item.

    What most of the name-callers here don't tackle is the fact that Walmart can easily, with a stroke of a pen, put loads and loads of its suppliers out of business overnight. This is a capitalism that is red in tooth and claw. WM (and other Big Box Brothers) can demand milk to be supplied at 24 cents a quart, whereas it will cost the farmer 28 cents to produce. When that farmer goes out of business, who takes over his cows? Maybe some Agribusiness owned by someone with a name like Wu Flung Dung.

  33. Charlie Brown says:

    I came across this after reading Gary's rebuttal. Seems to me this author has it nailed…..

  34. Arkansas Granny says:

    I read both the articles of Gary North and Knustler and came to the same conclusions as you did Country Boy. I used to own and run one of those "Mom and Pop" stores for 17 years and can totally attest to the crunch Walmart has on local business. Anyone who feels supporting Walmart is "conservative" is ignorant of some very disturbing facts about Walmart business practice. No one can compete with them because they buy in such HUGE amounts globally for ALL their stores….serviced to their stores from HUGE distribution centers. They also don't have to "pay as they go" as small business does which ALSO makes it impossible to compete with them. Manufacturers desperately wanting to get their products into Walmart (which they perceive will give them a better chance to sell more product) make many concessions to get in…… mainly that they will only be paid only for what sells (and have to wait many months for that pay)…..that they don't get paid for any of the products customers return (which explains Walmart's liberal return policy–no skin off their nose really). Walmart has BROKEN many small manufacturing businesses who could not absorb those loses, nor wait up to a year to be paid for their products. Meanwhile, the smaller business that competes with Walmart has to buy smarter knowing that they have only a 30 day account….at which time the invoice must be paid for items ordered, whether they sell or not. Does anyone really think this is a fair playing field? The big box stores have taken over the retail market in the same way as BIG agriculture has taken over producing our food, and BIG dairy farms have put out of business all the little family run dairies all over the country. When BIG anything absorbs and takes over the entire market…..guess what? There is no longer ANY competition…..quality goes DOWN and the PRICE goes up. Who's gonna stop them from raising the prices? There is no competition…..when they are a monopoly and you can't get a product ANYWHERE else in town but a big box store like Walmart, you won't get many great values anymore. Walmart started out as a good idea….but Sam Walton put only American made products in his original stores….he would roll over in his grave if he saw what his decendants have turned his company into (trinkets from China!) Personally, I buy from anywhere besides Walmart….I get fresher and better quality meat and produce from Kroger Grocery, and cheaper cleaning products from the dollar store…etc. Sorry Gary, but I have to side with Knustler on this one….I think opposing Walmart is just about as American as Apple Pie. (and I am ULTRA conservative politically)

  35. oblongau says:

    It's not Walmart that put the small stores out of business. It's the customers who chose to shop at Walmart instead, presumably because they get a better deal.

  36. Isn’t the isssue one related to the buyers? If people buy at Walmart, it’s because they perceive that they are receiving better value there. Maybe they are OK with cheap, CHinese-made merchandise and don’t particularly care to pay for (or can’t afford) American-made products. One of the things that globalization has brought is the realization that perhaps here in the US unions (primarily) and the government (through inflation of the currency) have artificially increased the price of goods. When a wrench-turner on a GM assembly line is making $120,000 a year, you know that this is going to be passed on to the consumer. When energy costs zoom up in dollar terms you know that cost will eventually be paid by the consumer. Maybe the purchasing at Walmart is one way that the American consumer is saying… “you know what? I’m not going to finance inflated union wages! And you know what else? I’m not going to finance inflated energy adn other raw materials costs resulting from the government’s devaluation of my money an purchasing power. I’m going to go and get stuff I can afford, made by people outside the US who aren’t getting overpaid to do basic stuff.”
    Now, I’m not making a value judgement here. SOme may want to defend union wages or whatever. I’m just trying to understand why people will willingly shop at Walmart although they know they are essentially buying (for the most part) CHinese made goods. If they’re doing it, it’s because they perceive the value. Walmart just happens to be the intermediary.
    So the question that REALLY has to be posed is not why “Walmart is doing all these bad things”. It’s why we, the people, are willingly going to Walmart even when we know where the goods come from. And I suspect because it is the average Joe’s “sub-conscious way” to protect himself from government policies that diminish his purchasing power and from union strong-arming for wages that don’t really reflect the value of the work being performed.
    Just a thought.

  37. This is really not a very logical response. If “we” didn’t (buy from Walmart) for a long time, then why did all the other businesses close? THey should have been going fine will all those “we” who didn’t buy at Walmart as customers. So perhaps “you” might not have bought at Walmart, but a whole bunch of other people did. And that takes us back to the question: why did they? This is the question I explore in my previous note.

  38. What made in America goods? Everything I pickup everywhere is made in China, Taiwan, Mexico or anywhere but here. That include stuff in all those “Mom & Pop” stores. As a matter of fact, it’s usually the exact same crap at a much higher price. Especially in small cities where the sweet little mom & pop stores have been sticking it to the locals for years.

    Here’s something all the thinkers that hate Wally-World completely forget. Many people are now shopping via the INTERNET and there’s not a damned thing these thinkers can do to stop that. I can find stuff faster and cheaper that way and usually have it delivered for “FREE”. So keep thinking you can stop Wal-Mart while this INTERNET invasion wipes out the remaining Mom & Pop stores.

  39. AR Granny–
    We also need to remember that back when Sam–for whom I've always had enormous respect–first opened up back in the early Sixties, America was the world's manufacturing powerhouse, making anything and everything, and there was no financial incentive for a company to buy or produce overseas. Buying a boatload of stuff from [insert Asian or middle eastern country here] wasn't even really an option.

  40. A Murricun says:

    Yes, I did mean “consenting” adults. Although it kind of makes sense as written. As for ad hominem, that was a free sample. I didn’t say I couldn’t or even that I wouldn’t, I meant to say in my mil-spec laconic manner that I don’t, hardly ever, waste the time. 🙂

  41. A lot of denunciation of Walmart, but obviously this must be the minority. Why? Because 8 cents of every dollar spent in the US goes to Walmart. Who are these people who are spending all of this money there? Someone must like it. And lets not forget Costco, Target et al.

  42. Arkansas Granny you are absolutely correct. But the question that we must pose to BIG is: how can they be stopped? And is it the will of the majority of the American people to stop BIG, or is it the way of life to create it and allow it to exist?

  43. Absolutely. Life is always a matter of choice, just as the mess that this country is in has been and is, a matter of choice.

  44. There is nothing wrong with shopping somewhere besides wal mart. It is possible they drive down quality. But it makes n sense to point out how Wal Mart drives down prices and then say price goes up.
    For many Americans Wal Mart helped keep ordinary Americans keep a middle class lifestyle despite all the economic policies that distort the economy.

  45. You do have choices – shop on-line or move somewhere else.

  46. ronalddubois says:

    Dear Mr. North, I read your original article and thought it was true and well-written, but you should know by now (and not be surprised), that when someone on the Far Left has no facts to refute you, they will always launch a personal attack to divert attention from the truth.

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