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Walmart bribes Mexican officials

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Wheylous posted on Sat, Apr 21 2012 8:32 PM

Liberals will cry out "evil corporations, see!"

Republicans will cower in fear.

What should libertarians do?

I see it this way:

- They are bribing officials to get licenses faster. The license process is an artificially-instituted barrier to the free market, and as such I would not scorn Walmart for trying to get around it.

- However, the question is "how does this affect the competitiveness of other firms?"

We know that this barrier to entry blocks potential market players and hence drives prices up. Hence, Walmart is benefiting from the market barriers when it gives out bribe money. The question is "were there many firms lined up for licenses that got denied due to Walmart?"

If yes, then Walmart is actively benefiting from government action.

If no, then Walmart is merely a good market player in this instance.


Thoughts on my analysis?

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Top 50 Contributor
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While they would be benefitting from the market barriers to entry, I think the real question is whether or not they endorse this process.  If they do, then they are actively benefitting.  If not, then they have the resources to bribe, but we should not fault them for having these resources.

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Pretty spot on. If Wal-Mart supports these permits but not for themselves they're crony capitalists. If they don't support these permits then they're doing nothing unethical/immoral/wrong.


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Meistro replied on Sat, Apr 21 2012 11:14 PM

Offering bribes is fine.  Really they are just paying a higher price for licenses they shouldn't have to have in the first place but offering bribes in general is fine.  Accepting them is less fine, usually.


... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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Neodoxy replied on Sat, Apr 21 2012 11:17 PM

This type of crap isn't even worth looking at. Liberals assume that as soon as a company hires over 500 people they're the spawn of Satan and that any company which hires less than that is a little lost sheep who's being squashed by the spawn of Satan and needs to be helped. 

Republicans assume that corporations are immaculate and that they can never do wrong and that their interests are synonymous with the interests of AMERICA, and they therefore need to be helped at all costs. I'm reminded of a time when I got into an argument with a conservative over Ron Paul, and when someone pointed out that Paul was specifically a "people's candidate" and was being funded much more by ordinary people than Romney or Obama, who were funded majorly by large banks, the conservative then argued that this was because America's big banks knew what was right for America, and so the fact that they weren't giving money to Ron Paul was evidence that Paul's election would lead to a national collapse. 

Only libertarians take the truly reasonable look at situations like this. The problem isn't Walmart, the problem is the government which is so easily fallible that a simple bribe is enough for the government to turn against what are supposed to be the interest of "its own people". Because people aren't perfect what we really need is an institution which can grant favor to some and use force against others for more than minimal mattes, and give this institution discretionary powers... Right?

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Kakugo replied on Sun, Apr 22 2012 4:19 AM

Bribing works in countries like Mexico and Thailand, where bureaucrats and public officials are decent and when bought will stay bought. In short, as questionable as bribing may be for many, it's still a contract: I pay you money to speed up this procedure and/or to give me some benefits and you have to keep your part of the deal. Beats hiring lobbyists and relying on politicians who are in the habit of changing their shape faster than Proteus.

Probably Walmart would have obtained the same benefits by lobbying to the State Department to apply pressure on Mexican authorities but... how long would have taken and how much would have cost to hire "legal" lobbyists to do the job? Bribing local officers directly is just cheaper (you cut off the many middlemen) and much faster. Moreover in countries where bribing is commonplace, officials have every interest in keeping their side of the bargain: after all if they just pocketed the money they would appear untrustworthy, the worst thing possible in a verbal contract. At that point people would just bribe someone else: in Walmart case they could just pick the next town where the alcalde would be much more amenable.

Together we go unsung... together we go down with our people
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Do Mexicans not like Wal-Mart?  Who doesn't like cheap stuff?

I think the right wing spin for this should be something along the lines of: the Mexican people benefit from having access to a store like Wal-Mart and the government gets in the way of that.   These bribes were just a way of getting around the government impediment.  My two cents.

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