Gay Patriot posted the other day about yet another anti-Walmart protest. His point was that the protesters, rather than being excited about real paying jobs coming to L.A., insisted that they would be better off with some hypothetical Mom and Pop jobs that might arise if they protested Walmart with sufficient vigor:
Last week, when watching TV news footage of people protesting a Walmart being built in LA’s Chinatown, I caught sight of a sign which seemed to define contemporary American liberalism, “Good Jobs/not Walmart jobs.”
These protestors, however, prefer these abstract “good jobs” to the very real “Walmart Jobs.” They favor, that is, something that exists in the abstract, in theory, to something very real — and well, like most real things, (at least) slightly imperfect.
Gay Patriot is, of course, correct, about the illogic driving the protesters. But think too about their claim that large, impersonal employers aren’t “good.” The assumption underlying this claim is that multiple small businesses better serve the community by ensuring choice and by preventing people from having a single Leviathan-esque employer beaten them down (in the form of “union busting” and “low wages”):
“This historic neighborhood will be utterly gutted if Walmart comes here,” Morello told the Associated Press.
Others said they were worried that the retail giant will drive smaller stores in Chinatown out of business.
“We hope that Walmart will hear us loud and clear and stop the construction and get out of Chinatown,” said King Cheung, an organizer with the Chinatown Coalition for Equitable Development. “So that we in Chinatown, the stakeholders, can talk about what is best for Chinatown.”
Sarah Tseng said her nonprofit had collected signatures for 80 local small businesses in opposition to the planned store. She said the majority of Chinatown residents oppose it, but are “afraid to say so publicly.”
To summarize, the protesters are appalled that a large entity will move in and squeeze out the diversity offered by multiple small providers, because doing so harms the worker and the consumer. Pretty clear, right? Right. Except….
Except that this principle collapses completely when it’s the government that wants to move in and despoil Mom and Pop concerns (i.e., small providers). In deconstructing Fareed Zakaria’s liberal defense of the government takeover of medicine, Yuval Levin points out the Left’s hostility to small providers:
Zakaria then contends that the inefficiencies of the American health care system—and especially the frequent disconnect between costs and outcomes—are a function of there just being too many different players in the system, each with his own goals. This is the classic liberal complaint: disorder causes inefficiency. Citing a conversation with Daniel Vassela, the chairman of Novartis, Zakaria writes:
“In America,” he said, “no one has incentives to make quality and cost-effective outcomes the goal. There are so many stakeholders and they each want to protect themselves. Someone needs to ask, ‘What are the critical elements to increase quality?’ That’s what we’re going to pay for, nothing else.”
And from this, Zakaria does not conclude that we need to rearrange the financial incentives in our health-care system so that, like in other parts of our economy, providers of services have a powerful incentive (called the profit motive) to make quality and cost-effectiveness their goal. Instead, he concludes that government must take over decisions about how to provide coverage and organize the system because presumably government is very good at making quality and cost-effectiveness its goals.
In other words, the protesting Left isn’t really interested in Mom and Pop, whether Mom and Pop are selling shoes or health care. Instead, Leftists are simply interested in destroying large capital and elevating Big Government.