IN the Orwellian world of Occupy Wall Street, small business is good and big business is bad. Yet bigger government is always preferred over smaller government. Big Labor, buttressed by forced unionism, is good and workplace freedom is bad.
George Orwell summed it up in “Animal Farm” with the phrase “Four legs good, two legs bad.” This relates to the belief that replacing the haves with the have-nots will result in something edenic rather than the mere creation of a new set of haves and a new set of have-nots.
Two legs are good. Oklahoma-born Sam Walton used his two legs to leave his retailing experience at J.C. Penney and open a Walton's Five and Dime in northwestern Arkansas. James Cash Penney had earlier used his two legs to start a retail empire with a single store in Wyoming.
Walmart and J.C. Penney were tiny businesses that became bigger businesses and finally huge corporations because of the hard work and determination of men who walked on two legs until they could walk no more.
In the Orwellian world of Occupy Wall Street, it's deemed admirable to support a Walton's Five and Dime as long as it doesn't grow into a chain of big box stores that offer more goods at a better price. One store good, two stores bad? A local gadfly, speaking at an Occupy OKC rally late last year, evoked this idiocy in urging his audience to shop only at small, locally owned businesses “and stay out of big box stores that feed the 1 percent and wreck local economies.”
The lack of logic in this is appalling. Those big stores in fact feed the 99 percent at prices they couldn't get from the buying power of a single store. The employees of the big box stores live here. They are the local economy!
Finally, the more people who take this advice, the more the small, local business will grow, employ more people, branch out to other states and even become a chain — perhaps even a network of big box stores.
Walmart and J.C. Penney started small. By earning the trust and trade of their customers, Walton and Penney were able to expand until their firms became corporate giants. Their size and success spawned competing firms such as Dollar General and discount clothiers, which started small but eventually became chains, opening the door for newer, smaller competitors with fresh legs.
The naive and sometimes stupid strain of populism that populates the “Occupy” movement is elitist, directed at a small percentage of the 99 percent, the relatively wealthy, not the masses who like ample selection and who benefit the most from lower prices. Their money and their legs go to where they can get the best deal.
Not every small business aspires to become a big business. This is how it should be.
Support those one-off stores as much as you like. Proceed with caution, though: If you spend too much, you just might be contributing to the birth of the next retail giant.
Two stores good, 400 better!