March 28, 2008

THOUGH THE LEFT WOULD PREFER THAT GOVERNMENT DO IT BADLY:

In Wal-Mart We Trust: Who did the most to help victims of Hurricane Katrina? According to a new study, it was the company everyone loves to hate (Colby Cosh, March 28, 2008, National Post)

Shortly before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott, gathered his subordinates and ordered a memorandum sent to every single regional and store manager in the imperiled area. His words were not especially exalted, but they ought to be mounted and framed on the wall of every chain retailer -- and remembered as American business's answer to the pre-battle oratory of George S. Patton or Henry V.

"A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level," was Scott's message to his people. "Make the best decision that you can with the information that's available to you at the time, and above all, do the right thing."

This extraordinary delegation of authority -- essentially promising unlimited support for the decision-making of employees who were earning, in many cases, less than $100,000 a year -- saved countless lives in the ensuing chaos. The results are recounted in a new paper on the disaster written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist at St. Lawrence University in New York. [...]

This benevolent improvisation contradicts everything we have been taught about Wal-Mart by labour unions and the "small-is-beautiful" left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 28, 2008 10:07 AM
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