Has Mark Brennan any evidence of Wal­mart getting monopoly privileges in the United States, as he claimed in “Anarcho-Tyranny Versus . . . Walmart?” (American Proscenium, July)?  Is there any evidence for the truly grotesque accusation that Central American sex slaves end up in Walmart stores north of the border (or south of it for, that matter)?  Is Walmart engaged in pimping, then?

To put it otherwise, do the editors of Chronicles pay attention to what they print?

—John D. King

Austin, TX

Mr. Brennan Replies:

The editors of Chronicles “pay attention to what they print”; Mr. King should pay attention to what he reads.  In my article I cited Walmart’s status as Mexico’s largest employer with 209,000 workers.  This statistic introduced the fact that the retailer has long frustrated the Mexican expansion plans of its French competitor Soriana, whom I accused of underestimating “Walmart’s rent-seeking expertise.”  I then presented the commonly accepted definition of rent-seeking as the process by which interested parties “manipulate the political or social environment to redistribute wealth, often [emphasis added, in case Mr. King is not paying attention again] by securing monopoly privileges or government subsidies.”

Often does not mean “always” or “in every case.”  Furthermore, it appears that the logical implications of the connective “or” went right over Mr. King’s head.  Just to simplify, I never accused Walmart of “getting monopoly privileges.”  So I won’t bother providing any evidence in support of Mr. King’s errant accusation.  But let us remember that rent-seekers often flock to state capitals in their insidious pursuit of wealth and power.  I can only wonder if Mr. King, by virtue of his home address, has some hidden connection to this sleazy bunch.

And while I have never seen a Central American sex slave in a Walmart store—because I pride myself on being one of the few Americans who has yet to darken Walmart’s discount door—that doesn’t mean they don’t shop there.  Maybe some math will help.  On its website Walmart claims to serve “customers more than 200 million times per week at 10,130 retail units in 27 countries” or 10.4 billion times per year.  Of those 10,130 retail units worldwide, “Walmart operates more than 4,400 retail facilities” in the United States.  My guess is that a few of those 10.4 billion annual Walmart visits are enjoyed by members of every socioeconomic demographic in the United States, Central American sex slaves included.  However, my point in the article was that these suffering souls might—just might—be among the customers served by Walmart, not that Walmart stocks them as merchandise alongside the 100-plus types of condoms and assorted vibrators it sells in its stores.

I also never accused Walmart of pimping, but maybe I should have.  According to Arkansas television station KNWA, in early July police in Bentonville arrested 27 year-old Kaushik Kumar on charges of running a prostitution ring out of Walmart’s headquarters.  A Walmart spokesman was quick to add that Kumar was not a company employee but merely a contractor, a distinction that makes little difference when dealing with the heinous crime of sex trafficking.