Supermarkets don't kill you, consumers do
Umair Haque at bubblegeneration has been explaining why Europe is the next innovative market leader. You'd have thought we'd have got all of these articles out of our systems a couple of years ago wouldn't you! Anyway, a key part of his argument seems to be that capitalism is well bad and an alternative is needed.
"Let me use an example to illustrate. The cost of Wal-Mart killing your local mom and pop bakery isn't just terrible food, no more friendly chats, and unemployment. In fact, Wal-Mart offsets your loss in quality with scale economies, creating value.
Actually, the real economic loss is more subtle, and much more pernicious: we lose entire sets of people deeply committed to what they do, which is where real creativity ultimately flows from. We lose people with skin in the game, and replace them with workerbots. The guys at your local bakery were makers of tiny cultures, not just producers of goods. Which do you think will be more valuable in a world of Chinese/Indian/etc hypercompetition - scale economies, or creativity driven by passion and commitment?"
Except, of course, Wal-Mart doesn't kill our local mom and pop bakeries. Nobody wanting to give them their money is what kills them. Lack of real popularity kills them. A preponderance of people who won't put their money where their mouth is kills them. All Wal-Mart does is make sure people who don't want to keep these places alive aren't held to ransom (although I do have some serious reservations about aspects of Wal-Mart's business practice; they're not exactly a perfect paragon of capitalistic virtue!).