Mark Kellner's Log

Sunday, March 03, 2002
No Low Prices, Please, We're Idiots...
The Sunday New York Times letters to the editor page contains the following example of breathtaking stupidity:

Saving at Wal-Mart, but Paying a Price

"To the Editor:

"Your Feb. 24 front-page article about Wal-Mart and its 'single note — low prices' is a good reminder that practically nothing has so harmed this country as this fixation on price and price alone, with no regard for the collateral damage.

"When the world consisted of small shops and peddlers, seeking the lowest price was practically harmless. Now, however, enormous financial resources have done their utmost to exploit the private automobile and ultraporous zoning laws to bring artificially low prices at the expense of endless sprawl, big-box architectural pollution, the desertion of downtowns and a fatally high-energy lifestyle. One can only conclude that price has become a drug and that we are an addict nation.

"Troy, N.Y., Feb. 24, 2002"

Here's a response, from yours truly --

Dear Mr. Simms,

Perhaps the sub-zero temperatures occasionally visited upon Troy have damaged too many of your brain cells, but in your screed against the forces of free-market capitalism, you ignore the following:

(1) Not everyone has the vast quantities of disposable income you must have in order to disregard prices as you advocate.

(2) If Wal-Mart didn't offer "lower prices," someone else would -- at least so long as this remains a free society and a free market economy.

(3) The "addiction" you allege is nothing more than common sense: As Prudential Securities analyst John McMillan put it in the article you fault: ""Whether you're rich or whether you're poor," he said, "everybody wants a bargain."

Get off your high horse, fella, and rejoin the rest of humanity.

Mark Kellner