I am the founding and only member of Liberal Mormons For Wal-Mart (LMWM) – ok there is no LMWM, but I admit – I love Wal-Mart! I love the smiley face, I love the cheap prices, I want to be a greeter when I retire, and Sam Walton is my hero – any billionaire who still drives a beat up pickup to work everyday is awesome. In fact, I consider myself a Democratic leaning person and STILL I love Wal-Mart.

I have many friends who consider themselves liberal leaning Mormons and they all hate Wal-Mart. When I press them for reasons why they hate Wal-Mart, they cite the usual – it destroys small businesses, it uses sweat shops to make goods, it has no corporate conscience, it is anti-union (who isn’t these days) etc. When I ask them where they shop they usually respond Target, Costco, or some specialty retailer like Gap. I then inform them that these companies are not that different from Wal-Mart, just smaller in size. They all destroy small businesses, they all use low cost labor from abroad and all of them are in the business to make money. So what is the difference? I thought one of the best responses I ever heard back to a liberal was “so you are against poor people having a place to shop?” Wal-Mart fills a very important need in this country that has provided the poor access to products at very affordable prices. I have seen data that links the low inflation of the 15 years to the “Wal-Mart effect”. So let’s look at what Wal-Mart has done:

From Wikipedia:

It is the largest private employer in the world and world’s fourth largest commercial employer in the world, only trailing the People’s Liberation Army of China, the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and the Indian Railways. Wal-Mart is the largest grocery retailer in the United States, with an estimated 20% of the retail grocery and consumables business, and the largest toy seller in the U.S., with an estimated 45% of the retail toy business.

Each week, approximately 100 million customers, or one-third of the US population, visits Wal-Mart’s US stores. Wal-Mart customers place low prices as the most important reason for shopping at Wal-Mart, reflecting the “Low prices, always” message that Wal-Mart had from 1962 until 2006. Wal-Mart’s average US customer’s income is below the national average, and analysts have recently estimated that more than one-fifth do not have a bank account, twice the national rate. A poll prior to the 2004 US Presidential Election indicated that 76% of voters who shopped at Wal-Mart once per week planned to vote for George W. Bush, while only 23% planned to vote for John Kerry.

Perhaps the real reason liberals hate Wal-Mart is the last sentence – the customers are conservative. The fascinating part is who is behind the anti-Wal-Mart organizations – why its the liberal friend the Labor Unions. I really don’t think the Wal-Mart bashing has anything to do with protecting the poor or any of that garbage, since these same liberals frequent stores that are essentially the same but more expensive and more trendy. I have never heard any of the Wal-Mart haters state where they think the poor should shop because there is not another good alternative. It is all about politics in my view. I am proud to be one of the 100 million who go to Wal-Mart every week.