Saturday, June 05, 2004In the American Prospect today, James Hoopes compares Wal-Mart to GM. This is specious argument. There is a dramatic difference between the great robber barons of the last century and the retail chains of today. The manufacturing concerns left something behind because they made things. Retail stores will leave nothing, because they make nothing. Their economic effect is at best simply trivial, because all they do is sell the goods that someone else produces. At worst, they wreck the delicate network of small proprietorships which is a cornerstone of a democratic economy.