Back in relatively more innocent times, business responded to its consumer base, who were unified by culture and regulated by an informal caste system which made the most productive into the most discerning and valued customers.
As this got democratized, however, business became more responsive to government through the rise of unions and regulations. Now, government defines the opportunities, and so business responds to the ideological initiatives of government.
When he was mayor, Michael Bloomberg supported Walmartâ€™s efforts to open a store in New York, but the company faced unremitting resistance from unions and elected officials, and it gave up the fight once de Blasio moved into Gracie Mansion. â€œI have been adamant that I donâ€™t think Walmartâ€”the company, the storesâ€”belong in New York City,â€ de Blasio said.
Walmartâ€™s benefits are obvious to shoppers and to economists like Jason Furman, who served in the Clinton administration and was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. In a paper, â€œWalmart: A Progressive Success Story,â€ Furman cited estimates that Walmart, by driving down prices, saved the typical American family more than $2,300 annually. That was about the same amount that a family on food stamps then received from the federal government.
How could any progressive with a conscience oppose an organization that confers such benefits? How could de Blasio and the city council effectively take money out of the pockets of the poorest families in New York? Becauseâ€”though they would deny itâ€”they care a lot more about pleasing powerful labor interests, especially the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which helped lead the long fight to keep Walmart out of the five boroughs.
The grim reality is that centralization is highly effective. Economies of scale dictate that a product purchased in lots of one million will be much cheaper than those purchased by the dozen. Walmart centralized its purchasing and distribution, and so can make good profit on products that are far cheaper than those of its competitors.
But the unions opposed it, mainly because Walmart fights unions, since it sees no point in paying money to parasitic institutions whose function is better handled by the market and legal liability for abuses, which is actually what curbed abusive workplaces in America’s past. However, unions are popular because they create the appearance of being for the little guy and against the big guys, which is the core of the Leftist egalitarian narrative.
As many remember, the Left always fights against any system which wants performance before reward, and replaces it with systems where reward comes independent of performance. This is the nature of socialism and social welfare states like we have in the USA.
Government also likes the idea of reward independent of performance because this creates voters who are dependent on government, and obliterates those troublesome things like culture and heritage that stand in the way of absolute government power. For government, ideology is a means-to-an-end of having permanent control.
When government gets involved, businesses become ideological agents as well because this is the way they play nice with government, unions and the zombie voters created by Leftist ideology.
Capitalism is far from ideal. It can easily be subverted if the buying public act like idiots, which people in groups tend to do, regardless of their actual IQs. But it works better than everything else.
However, in the hands of ideologues, it becomes a weapon for advancing Leftist ideology, which transitions the West into the type of Soviet ideology totality which has caused empires before us to fail as well.