Should The New York Times Investigate Wal-Mart Or Carlos Slim?

The  New York Times’s Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart After Top-Level Struggle suggests that Wal-Mart violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The smoking gun: Seven years ago, Wal-Mart de Mexico hired two outside lawyers for $8.5 million to “facilitate” store permits. The lawyers were effective:  “Legal and bureaucratic obstacles melted away after payments were made to minor officials who could thwart Wal-Mart’s growth.” Wal-Mart executives, the  article charges, did not take appropriate action after an internal investigation. No believer in free enterprise should excuse or make light of violations of laws by Wal-Mart or any other private company. We hope that Wal-Mart moves forcefully to put this business behind it. In its anti-Wal-Mart fervor, the Times inflates the $8.5 million into an “orchestrated campaign of bribery to win market dominance” that erected Wal-Marts on “virtually every corner of the country.”  No mention of the possibility – if not  probability – that local officials could not pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity to extort Wal-Mart.  A Wal-Mart success story explained by its “everyday low prices”  does not fit the Times’ political agenda. Greasing the palms of local officials with a few dollars is a more convenient explanation. A few blocks away from 620 Eighth Avenue, Carlos Slim, the Times’ second largest shareholder behind the Sulzbergers, oversees his sprawling Telmex and Latin American telecommunications empires from atop Rockefeller Center. Slim is a welcome guest at the most exclusive of Manhattan cocktail parties.  Wal-Mart’s hillbilly executives from Bentonville, Arkansas would simply not fit in. Economics 101 teaches that only efficient businesses survive and prosper in competitive markets....

Are The United States & Hawaii Competitive?

by Adam Smith World leaders, business executives, bankers, journalists and other influential policy makers recently met in Davos Switzerland to discuss the most pressing economic and political issues of the day. During this year’s gathering, there was mutual agreement that soft economic conditions are forcing countries to rethink how they can become more competitive in order to attract new businesses that will create more jobs and also provide tax revenues to pay down public debt.  The need for the United States to become more competitive in world markets was also made clear in Mr. Obama’s recent State of the Union speech.   Do the United States and Hawaii currently offer a competitive environment that will attract and stimulate economic growth?   Most people would say no.  The United States has one of the most complex tax codes in the world and one of the highest tax rates among developed countries.  According to the Tax Foundation’s most recent report, Hawaii’s tax system is ranked 35th among the 50 states.  Both the United States and Hawaii have costly regulations when compared to other countries and states and Hawaii has a reputation for not being a pro-business state.   Also, according to the Pew Foundation, the United States is over 15 trillion dollars in debt and Hawaii has projected unfunded pension obligations of over 16 billion dollars and projected unfunded Medicaid obligations of over 10 billion dollars.  These debt obligations are making it increasingly difficult for the governments of the United States and Hawaii to fund public infrastructure projects that will support economic growth.   Why does being competitive matter?   Business...