by Will Schreiber

Munger, Wal-mart, and Louis C.K.

Charlie Munger gave a talk at USC in 1994 about worldly wisdom. In it, he takes a contrarian (at least contrarian among the elite) view of Wal-mart:

You can say, “Is this a nice way to behave?” Well, capitalism is a pretty brutal place. But I personally think that the world is better for having Wal-Mart. I mean you can idealize small town life. But I’ve spent a fair amount of time in small towns. And let me tell you you shouldn’t get too idealistic about all those businesses he destroyed.
Plus, a lot of people who work at Wal-Mart are very high grade, bouncy people who are raising nice children. I have no feeling that an inferior culture destroyed a superior culture. I think that is nothing more than nostalgia and delusion.1

I agree with the sentiment. But expressing this opinion is difficult.

Louis C.K., meanwhile, illustrates Munger’s point - without using any big words - by wrapping the essence of Wal-mart into an illustration:

  1. A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business