The Liberal war against Wal-Mart has always been perplexing.  Why such ire for a store that saves Americans-particularly middle and lower-income Americans-billions of dollars and effectively makes us all richer?

Sebastian Mallaby has an interesting piece in today’s Washington Post arguing that the anti-Wal-Mart crusade exemplifies how Democrats evolution from centrist, free trade Clintonism to today’s anti-business Leftism:

Once upon a time, smart Democrats defended globalization, open trade and the companies that thrive within this system. They were wary of tethering themselves to an anti-trade labor movement that represents a dwindling fraction of the electorate. They understood the danger in bashing corporations: Voters don’t hate corporations, because many of them work for one. 

…Times change. Last year Hillary Clinton returned a campaign contribution from Wal-Mart, even though she had no compunction in banking a check from Jerry Springer. The nation’s most successful retailer, which has seized the opportunities created by globalization to boost the buying power of ordinary Americans, is now seen as too toxic to touch. But a trash-talking TV host is acceptable.

He cites evidence that Wal-Mart is more an effective anti-poverty program than the federal government’s food stamps:

According to a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research by Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag, neither of whom received funding from Wal-Mart, big-box stores led by Wal-Mart reduce families’ food bills by one-fourth. Because Wal-Mart’s price-cutting also has a big impact on the non-food stuff it peddles, it saves U.S. consumers upward of $200 billion a year, making it a larger booster of family welfare than the federal government’s $33 billion food-stamp program.

It’s no surprise that our free market system, with Wal-Mart serving as a shining example, makes us better off.  But I was surprised to see this defense of Walmart in the Washington Post.