Does this mean Big Box stores might not be ruining the planet after all?

James Surowiecki, journalist and author of The New Yorker‘s “Financial Page,” calls bullshit on those who indulge in what he calls the “fetishization of small business.”

Surowiecki argues that mom and pop businesses are less productive than national chains. They charge significantly higher prices and offer, on average, lower wages and benefits. They’re less likely to innovate, invest in new technologies or expand. They are, however, more likely to do one important thing: Fail.

He writes that while it’s true small businesses create most jobs, “they also destroy most jobs, since, while starting a business is easy, keeping it going is hard.”

Surowiecki adds this:

The developed countries with the highest percentage of workers employed by small businesses include Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy—that is, the four countries whose economic woes are wreaking such havoc on financial markets. Meanwhile, the countries with the lowest percentage of workers employed by small businesses are Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S.—some of the strongest economies in the world.  This correlation is not a coincidence.

And here’s a little something for all you populists out there:

It’s hardly a coincidence that in the decades after the Second World War, when ordinary American workers became part of the middle class, very big companies employed a huge percentage of the workforce: in the early seventies, one in five non-farm workers worked for a Fortune 500 company. Small may be beautiful. It’s just not all that prosperous.

We probably won’t see that on any Occupy Wall Street signboards.

Read the article here.


50 Responses

  1. It’s all Rob Arkley’s fault.

  2. He probably bought the New Yorker and commissioned the article himself. With additional funding from Walmart and Home Depot. That’s just the kind of evil he is.

  3. Let the Arkley obsessing begin. Do you think it ever occurs to the haters that while they’re mooning and fantasizing about him, he doesn’t spend a fraction of a second thinking about them?

  4. Are your serious? Does keeping money in the local economy even matter to anyone? This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while, and makes this blog look like a complete joke, exposing it’s true intention of brain washing all the common folk with CRAP! So….. Where does this stop? Should we be buying only chinease made products, because they are bigger corporations doing business in a bigger market? Therefore making a superior product for less money? Come on people! Please don’t buy into this ridiculousness! Buy local, if you can’t see why it is the thing to do you have a few screws loose.

  5. I hate Rob because he’s successful and I’m not. I want his money, so instead of working hard I think I’ll stand in the middle of the street with a sign that says he cheated.

  6. Yeah use and it also proves The New Yorker, whence the article came, is a complete joke with the intention of brain-washing the common folk with CRAP.


  7. You know those shitty East Coast intellectuals. We love ’em when they agree with us, and their a bunch of fat Wall Street assholes when they don’t.

  8. Maybe Useyourbrain should consider following his own advice?

    Just a thought.

  9. Useyourbrain; Guess we are suppose to all work for Larry Glass. Minimum wage, no benefits and part-time…….( just like Wal-Mart)

  10. Anon @ 9:22….”There you go again…” making sense.

  11. Somebody used Useyourbrain’s actual brain as a door mat. Forgive him, it’s not his fault he’s such a loser.

  12. Big box stores buy most of their product from China. Maybe the US should consider becoming communist too. Then we could rule the banksters with a red iron fist.

  13. Tom, that didn’t actually make any sense. At all.

  14. I was thinking about giving his comment a thumbs down, but then I realized I couldn’t tell if I agreed with it or not.

  15. What’s the big deal? It’s just the New Yorker. It’s not like anyone smart writes for that rag.

  16. “Therefore making a superior product for less money”? Who would want that? Oh yeah…America for the last couple hundred years.

  17. I hate Rob because his wife is hot and I can’t jump her. I hate bugs because they make sense and Richard Salzman told me they didn’t. I’m confussed. I wish I had a bank accountr. Where’s my PBR?

  18. Richard Salzman is mad at me because I said Mark Lovelace was small. Richard said my vision was vertically challenged. That Mark was actually a Gaint and that I needed to have re-education. After class and a case of PBR I realized Richard was right . What I ment to say was Mark had a very small vagina.

  19. You had me at “Richard Salzman is mad.” In every sense of the word.

  20. I can’t believe any so called newspaper (are any other media for that matter) prints anything written by Richard Salzman…..

  21. Trash is trash. If they can’t get anything but Salzman then garbage in and garbage out.

  22. I’ve never quite understood the “keeping money in the local economy” argument. Don’t the people who work at big box stores spend their wages locally? And doesn’t the money one saves by shopping at the cheapest store get spent locally? Isn’t the sales tax revenue spent on local municipal projects? As for the “stuff made in China” angle, all the stores sell the same crap that is manufactured in the Third World. The question is, who sells it the cheapest? Why am I obligated to support an inefficient business model?

  23. Why? Because the progs said so. If you can’t afford it then just grow dope or sue somebody like Disneyland.

  24. Sorry 2:05, but Cherie A is about as attractive as Salzman

  25. You are an asshat 7:44. Cherie is lovely and sweet and Salzman is an amoral lying prick who likes to trash good folk. Now begone Dicky, back to HH to troll your munibank crap!

  26. What do you expect from little Dicky? The only desirable woman he’s ever seen is his mother.

  27. I thought maybe it was his dead dog. Poor thing. That dog had to live with such a violent lying dirtbag like Dicky.

  28. But there is an instance where the small business can be most successful: When government is used to prevent development and thus hinder competition. In such enlightened areas the small business thrives on the lack of competition, allowing generous margins and rich profit. With a captive audience funneled to limited choices, the success of the politically well-connected small business operator is all but assured. Sure, people pay high prices for inferior selection and service, but it’s worth the sacrifice to earn the right to proudly bear a “Buy Local” bumper sticker on the car you can’t afford to replace.

  29. Unfair competition? Bring on the big boxes, long live the global economy!

    As long as RA benefits, it’s all good

  30. Richard Salzman, total cocksmoker

  31. Why even acknowledge the cocksmoker? He is so dishonest and despicable even most democrats think he’s crap.

  32. You know the New Yorker, that bastion of far right-wing thought.

  33. And what does Anonymous 4:10 have against the global economy? Did he like the world better when fewer people had access to adequate food and shelter? I guess these progs really are elitist pigs.

  34. Prog-oink, oink, oink. Or is that proink?

  35. What happened to your troll, Humbug? Did he sober up? Get a job? Find a love interest? Move out of his mother’s basement?

  36. He probably just scraped up the $12 he needed to renew his TV porn subscription.

  37. Leave it to a prog to pay for porn.

  38. Progs don’t pay for squat. They get grants.

  39. This is a SOMEWHAT misleading quote without good examples (not that they don’t exist). I find this quote misleading,

    “He writes that while it’s true small businesses create most jobs, “they also destroy most jobs, since, while starting a business is easy, keeping it going is hard.”

    Note: Starting-up a business is not easy for many newer business owners (and some formers) ….just ask that pre-school teacher in McKinleyville…..apparantly, it is hard to deal with staff, its conditions, its financial charges, its back and forth assistances, etc… when wanting to start-up a business. How about city council meetings over where to place any business, how to try to regulate that business, the processes that bind business to government, to the general public,to individuals, etc…. just to be able to say your in the start-up process.

    Biased and discriminatory tax code, High costs of labor generated taxes and regulations, lack of market share consumption, square footage tenant spaces which cost too much on a month to month basis for non-longtime business locations which are entrenched in an older building where lower rents make for a more sustainable business, long term…….of course this also means the property owner is paying less in building costs overall because its an older building with older accomodations and features. So, when people support clamor for higher real-estate taxes, they clamor for business failure, not to mention home-ownership issues.

    If small businesses offered or sold products or services which large businesses did not or could not, then the competetive forces that are exchanged between large and small businesses lessens dramatically and the small business will be able to lower its cost basis since no large competitor exists that would force prices higher upon the small business since the market share would only make the small business another link in the chain of resellers where they have to raise the product/service price. So, it is hard to even suggest the efficacy of large businesses are anything but market share monopoly oriented….since most businesses (smaller too) would grow larger if they could……the nature of business.


  40. Good God man. Take some Twitter lessons.

  41. If anybody really cared, tort reform would be the number one issue in Sacramento. They don’t and voters keep putting the perps back in office (Chesbro et al) – they’ve brought California to the brink of bankruptcy and waste their time on dilly-dally nanny-state bills.

    Orgs – like Paykeeper and Clary’s asst. groups would be banned for all eternity… the job-killers have escaped scrutiny. But pendulums swing.

  42. It’s trimming season. Progs will be busy for a month or so.

  43. Making medicine.

  44. You make good points, HOJ. I don’t think the article disparages small business. It just says you need big business too and pokes holes in the buy-local bs about how bad for the economy and wrong it is to buy something from Walmart or Safeway.

  45. I go to Costco. Sometimes Target. If kmart has a sale on Wranglers I am there. I have a family to feed and clothe and don’t grow dope. Hooray for big boxes. But I am a small business and do try and support them when I can. I use the internet because I can’t get shit in Humboldt. If there is a minor difference in price I shop local but I don’t have dope money to waste on things when there is a difference od 400, 500, 600 plus buying here. Until we get out of this fake dope economy we are toast and the progs are whining out of both side of their faces (as well as their ass)

  46. I know what you mean, Anon 8:16. When you’ve got money you didn’t work for flying out your ass it’s pretty easy to tell people they’re evil for not wanting to pay twice what something costs so we can buy it in town. If you can find it in town, like you said.

  47. The Heraldo cult is calling for a liberal suicide pact to diminsh the Humboldt population. Reasoning that if successful there won’t be enough support to open a Home Depot.

  48. Liberal castration might work too, but that might take another generation.

  49. PLZ! give HOJ an enema

  50. […] SIZE ME: While the amusingly puerile Humboldt Mirror pines that bigger is better for Big Boxes, the minions, the homeless, and us, the SoHum Parlance II […]

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