Everyone hates Walmart nowadays.  Environmental groups protest the company’s “greenwashing,” numerous violations of the Clean Water Act, and contribution to suburban sprawl.  Traditionalists detest Walmart’s displacement of small, family-owned businesses with big-box stores that serve as little more than cash drop boxes for the Bentonville, Arkansas, mother ship.  Organized labor, as expected, objects to the company’s union-busting and illegal compensation practices.  In 2000 the company paid $50 million to resolve an “off-the-clock lawsuit” that covered 69,000 workers in Colorado, while in 2007 it forked over more than $33 million for violating overtime rules.  But the affections of one group—global consumers—counteract all these objections.  Each dollar spent at Walmart is a vote in favor of the retailer’s continued existence.  And the votes keep coming.  Total sales for the fiscal year that ended on January 31 amounted to $444 billion, up 6 percent over fiscal-year 2011, a year in which U.S. real GDP grew a paltry 1.7 percent.  Complain all you want: Walmart isn’t going away.

Now that Walmart’s stores have reached saturation levels in rural and suburban America, the company has opted to mimic what Edward Abbey defined as the ideology of the cancer cell.  “Growth for the sake of growth” is how he characterized the impetus behind the deadly disease’s spread.  Similar to an aggressive cancer, Walmart has proliferated by feeding like a parasite on a host of insatiable consumer demand for shoddy goods at low prices.  And like metastatic cancer that can be temporarily controlled but never cured, Walmart may have finally begun to cannibalize its own future growth.

In late April, documents came to light alleging an extensive bribery and influence scandal by Walmart officials in Mexico with the complete knowledge of high-level executives at the company’s U.S. headquarters.  With 209,000 employees, Walmart de México is that nation’s largest private employer.  And roughly 20 percent of Walmart’s stores are located in Mexico, a statistic that has long bothered Soriana, Mexico’s very own big-box behemoth who would have preferred to bankrupt the countless little bodegas dotting the Mexican landscape single-handedly, without the help of gringos from the Ozarks.  But Soriana either underestimated Walmart’s rent-seeking expertise or never knew of it to begin with.  Unlike profit-seekers who look to create wealth, rent-seekers manipulate the political or social environment to redistribute wealth, often by securing monopoly privileges or government subsidies.  That devious strategy paved the way for Walmart to spread itself across the United States and succeeded for years in Mexico, until now.  By contrast, French retailer Carrefour took the high road in Latin America and paid for it.  The company exited Mexico after it refused to grease every Mexican palm reaching into its corporate pockets, thereby ending its own expansion plans there.

Not surprisingly, political reaction to the allegations has ranged from hypocritical to insane.  Mexican President Felipe Calderón shrieked that he was “indignant” at Walmart’s behavior, a sentiment several U.S. lawmakers echoed.  El Presidente seems to have forgotten that la mordida is the only way anything gets done in Mexico.  Spanish for “bite,” la mordida is the “mandatorily voluntary” payment necessary to prompt Mexican bureaucrats to do one’s bidding.  In idiomatic U.S. English, la mordida translates perfectly as “campaign contribution,” or the money Americans shower on aspiring politicians in the hope that, after winning office, they will obey the donor’s personal direction as perfunctorily as a Mexican tax collector expunging an overdue tax bill.  Compare this venal American political behavior with that of Mexico’s omnipotent drug lords.  For all the horrors they have visited upon Mexican society, at least the narcotraficantes have not embarrassed themselves like Felipe Calderón.  Mexico’s drug dealers offer the police and government officials a simple choice—¿Plata o Plomo? (Silver or Lead?)—before decapitating those who take too long to decide.  We can admire their direct approach and honesty, in glaring contrast to their elected leader’s abominable double-dealing, just as we abhor their murderous actions.

But U.S. law supports Felipe Calderón and his histrionics.  If prosecutors can prove the charges against Walmart, the company and its employees may be convicted of violating a problematic American law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Apparently not content with the damage he inflicted on the domestic economy in the late 1970’s, President Jimmy Carter signed the FCPA into law in December 1977 after a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation uncovered more than $300 million of questionable payments by over 400 U.S. companies to foreign politicians and political parties.  Carter hoped the FCPA would cleanse the United States’ international reputation by prohibiting Americans and their corporate employers from offering “anything of value . . . for the purpose of influencing any act” of a foreign official.  This misbegotten law has only served to hinder the international operations of American firms, with no corresponding improvement in our international respectability.  Sam Francis identified this exasperating phenomenon with his theory of anarcho-tyranny, which he explained as “Both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes.”  Anarcho-tyranny has now reached across international borders.

Look for whichever American presidential candidate wins in November to join forces with President Calderón in a tyrannical effort to stop otherwise law-abiding Americans in Mexico from behaving like Mexicans.  But don’t expect any serious efforts from politicians on either side of the Rio Grande to prevent the anarchy fostering northbound Mexican illegal immigration, the daily narco-decapitations, or the trans-Mexican human trafficking of Central American sex slaves making their way to Walmart’s U.S. stores.