by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I’ve been to the Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore, and St. Paul Outside the Walls. (“The alabaster columns were a gift from Muhammad Ali,” the priest showing us around said. “The real Muhammad Ali.”) And each lives up to its reputation — none disappoints. But spare a thought for the everyday miracle of the Walmart Super Center, which contains within its walls a selection of worldly riches and exotic treasures that Cleopatra would have blushed to contemplate. A 60-inch flat-screen television was, until the day before yesterday, a token of wealth. You can buy a good one from Samsung for less than $300, or just a couple of bucks over what a minimum-wage worker earns in a 40-hour week. The best minds of Silicon Valley and the most efficient manufacturers around the world work tirelessly and ceaselessly, producing mind-bending innovations, to put goods on the shelves of a store dedicated to satisfying the demands of ordinary people, many of them relatively low-income. And not to go all “I, Pencil” on you (again), consider the vast enterprise that supports that process: the global container-shipping network, the bankers and insurers, the companies that produce the energy and raw materials, the logistics experts, the engineers and architects — it is so complex as to be literally incomprehensible, and it is all organized around the whims and desires and interests of ordinary schmucks like us.