Wall Street Is ‘Essential.’ Main Street? Not So Much.

 

My wife was in Walmart today. The woman in front of her was buying wind chimes made out of fake shells. New Jersey is still under a lot of restrictions from the governor’s COVID-19 lockdown. Walmart, and its plastic wind chimes, have been deemed essential.

When governors decided to shut down their states for the sake of people’s physical health, they also made decisions about people’s economic health. By calling certain businesses “essential” or “non-essential” they gave themselves the right to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the small guys were the losers.

Since Walmart sells food, it is considered essential. The Walmart in my town is not a “Super” Walmart so they don’t sell produce, meat, or fresh baked goods, but they do sell lots of other food. While I accept that food is essential, why is it that you can buy clothes at Walmart but a small clothing store must remain closed because it is non-essential? Is it safer to walk through Walmart with hundreds of others than to go into a small boutique with one or two other shoppers? Probably not? Could a clothing shop put a few bags of chips on their shelf and magically become essential? I don’t think the governor would go along with that. But why not let the big and small businesses both safely compete?

Sure, we are all in this together, but these shutdowns are boosting certain businesses at the expense of others. All restaurants can offer take-out, but the big chain ones already have online ordering and customized apps for that. And then there is the chart above. When governors around the country started to react to COVID-19, Walmart’s stock took a hit, as did much of the economy. Since then? Well, it sure looks like having the government close down your competition is good for business.

A lot of the governors making these essential/non-essential decisions are Democrats who like to say they fight for the little guy. Truth is, big government and big business get along pretty well. If you run a small business and are unsure if you can survive after two months without revenue, maybe you should consider a more “essential” career … like selling plastic wind chimes that were made in China.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Vance Richards: When governors decided to shutdown their states for the sake of people’s physical health, they also made decisions about people’s economic health. By calling certain businesses “essential” or “non-essential” they gave themselves the right to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the small guys were the losers.

    Small donors donate tens of dollars to politicians.  Large corporations donate thousands . . .

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    It’s starting to look pretty obvious.

    • #2
  3. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Vance Richards: While I accept that food is essential, why is it that you can buy clothes at Walmart but a small clothing store must remain closed because it is non-essential?

    The county I grew up in had Blue Laws which meant most businesses were closed on Sunday. You could, however, sell food. If we went to a store that sold both food and other items on Sunday, the departments with clothes and ordered non-perishables were roped off so you couldn’t buy them. So, if the concern was really that people only leave home for essentials, that could have been done. Of course, the better alternative would be to let everyone open.

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    The county I grew up in had Blue Laws which meant most businesses were closed on Sunday. You could, however, sell food. If we went to a store that sold both food and other items on Sunday, the departments with clothes and ordered non-perishables were roped off so you couldn’t buy them. So, if the concern was really that people only leave home for essentials, that could have been done. Of course, the better alternative would be to let everyone open.

    I think that, in a rational world, one could make the “essentials” argument.  Food, (essential) drink, medical supplies, etc.

    However, this isn’t a rational world.  And that’s why we can’t have nice things, and that’s why we have to deal with folks like Gretchen Whitmer making decisions as to what’s essential and what isn’t.

    Given that, and given the obvious ridiculousness of the fact that folks have been shopping, and congregating, and crowding, and buying, non-essential stuff in (guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty) places like Lowes and Home Depot, and Walmart and various other big-box emporia over the last several months in states not so unlucky as to have gone the full Whitmer, without (in most cases, it seems) apparent ill effect, then yes, let everyone open.  Because if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.

    And clearly, they can’t do it right.

    • #4
  5. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    When governors decided to shut down their states for the sake of people’s physical health, they also made decisions about people’s economic health. By calling certain businesses “essential” or “non-essential” they gave themselves the right to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the small guys were the losers.

    Vance,

    I’m glad you phrased this so clearly. You are quite right. This is a travesty. Class action lawsuits might be taken up here. If the state has the power to do a lockdown in the first place, they had better not be caught artificially favoring one business over another.

    Good post.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    The fact is, Wall Street and Main Street are essential to each other.  The politicians don’t realize this (or they do and don’t care).

    Wall Street provides a lot of goods and services Main Street uses, whether it’s materials/commodities, banking, or advertising.  Likewise, Wall Street provides goods and services to Main Street.  Neither can survive without the other, and the debate on which can last a long time is an academic exercise left to economist pundits and econ PhD students working on their dissertations.

    Regardless of how well the stock markets are doing, we need to reopen everything so Main Street can get back to work.

    • #6
  7. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Stad (View Comment):

    Vance Richards: When governors decided to shutdown their states for the sake of people’s physical health, they also made decisions about people’s economic health. By calling certain businesses “essential” or “non-essential” they gave themselves the right to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the small guys were the losers.

    Small donors donate tens of dollars to politiciains. Large corporations donate thousands . . .

    Large corporations love the administrative state. It squelches upstarts who might compete. A big bank can hire a smaller compliance staff on a per branch basis than a small local bank.

    • #7
  8. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Stad (View Comment):

    The fact is, Wall Street and Main Street are essential to each other. The politicians don’t realize this (or they do and don’t care).

    Wall Street provides a lot of goods and services Main Street uses, whether it’s materials/commodities, banking, or advertising. Likewise, Wall Street provides goods and services to Main Street. Neither can survive without the other, and the debate on which can last a long time is an academic exercise left to economist pundits and econ PhD students working on their dissertations.

    Regardless of how well the stock markets are doing, we need to reopen everything so Main Street can get back to work.

    Yes, the upswing for places like Walmart can only last as long as their customers still have money. And you can only do so many multi-trillion dollar stimulus packages before it starts adding up to real money

    • #8
  9. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Large corporations love the administrative state. It squelches upstarts who might compete. A big bank can hire a smaller compliance staff on a per branch basis than a small local bank.

    The Fascist branch of the Left would love to drive out all the small players and leave the Walmarts and Lowes in place.

    Then with one threat/bribe, they can control a large segment of the marketplace.  For example, they can coerce all the WalMarts do something politically correct (like stop selling firearms).  No law is even needed; just put pressure on top management.

    As to the part of your post I quoted above, Sarbanes-Oxley was a bullet aimed right at small banks and small businesses.

    I watched “Idiocracy” last week.  All the businesses that I could see in that movie are national chains. It is not a comedy; it is a prophecy.

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Large corporations love the administrative state. It squelches upstarts who might compete. A big bank can hire a smaller compliance staff on a per branch basis than a small local bank.

    The Fascist branch of the Left would love to drive out all the small players and leave the Walmarts and Lowes in place.

    Then with one threat/bribe, they can control a large segment of the marketplace. For example, they can coerce all the WalMarts do something politically correct (like stop selling firearms). No law is even needed; just put pressure on top management.

    As to the part of your post I quoted above, Sarbanes-Oxley was a bullet aimed right at small banks and small businesses.

    I watched “Idiocracy” last week. All the businesses that I could see in that movie are national chains. It is not a comedy; it is a prophecy.

    Exactly.  It’s rather obvious what’s going on and why.  Ordinary Democrats don’t understand what their leaders are doing or why or even who actually influences the party now.  

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Vance Richards: While I accept that food is essential, why is it that you can buy clothes at Walmart but a small clothing store must remain closed because it is non-essential?

    The county I grew up in had Blue Laws which meant most businesses were closed on Sunday. You could, however, sell food. If we went to a store that sold both food and other items on Sunday, the departments with clothes and ordered non-perishables were roped off so you couldn’t buy them. So, if the concern was really that people only leave home for essentials, that could have been done. Of course, the better alternative would be to let everyone open.

    I never liked blue laws either.  Doesn’t make sense not to be able to buy socks on a Sunday.  Still, it was only once a week . . .

    • #11