To the Editor:
As an associate at Wal-Mart’s San Francisco corporate office, I would like to thank Professor Berry for his response to the January 14, 2003 column, “Here Comes Wal-Mart — There Goes The Neighborhood.” Originally from Manhattan and a graduate of Yale College, I joined Wal-Mart over two years ago with little idea of the company’s worldwide social or economic impact. But after more than two years of insider exposure to the company’s policies and strategies, I can confidently say that I work for one of the finest companies in the world.
I say this because I know that I am contributing to maintaining a lower cost of living for the 60 percent of Americans who make less than $50,000 a year. These 156 million Americans are not choosing to shop at Old Navy instead of The Gap; they are choosing whether they can afford new clothes at all. In fact, McKinsey Consulting published a report in The McKinsey Quarterly in January, 2002, stating that between 1995 -99, Wal-Mart, not techonology companies, was the single most important driver of productivity and economic growth. If Yale’s bright and good-hearted activists really want to support the improved living of our nation’s poor, they should want a Wal-Mart on every corner.
As an economics professor, Steve Berry understands the simple yet profound principles that have made Wal-Mart a global force for good: lower corporate costs and return the savings to the customer in lower prices. Yalies may not be among those customers, but 156 million Americans are.
Neylan McBaine ’99
January 16, 2003