Forget FEMA, rely on Wal-Mart & Home Depot in a disaster

Steven Horwitz, a professor of economics at St. Lawrence University, published a study that shows why local businesses are more effective in assisting in an emergency than the federal government.

The study says Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s made use of their local knowledge about supply chains, infrastructure, decision makers and other resources to provide emergency supplies and reopen stores well before FEMA began its response. Local knowledge enabled the big-box stores to make plans ahead of the storm and then put them into effect immediately.

“Profit-seeking firms beat most of the government to the scene and provided more effectively the supplies needed for the immediate survival of a population cut off from life’s most basic necessities,” Horwitz wrote in the study, which was published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “Though numerous private-sector firms played important roles in the relief operations, Wal-Mart stood out.”

Also, Wal-Mart leadership gave tremendous discretion to store managers and employees to make decisions rather than waiting for instructions from upper-level management, allowing for more-agile disaster response.

It doesn’t matter how many billions of taxpayer dollars you use to create a centralized government agency, sometimes the top down approach just isn’t effective.

HT Free Money Finance

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  1. I really would like to see Wal-Mart make plans to open a store in Buffalo — if only to see if the inner-city liberals would protest it. I’ve got to believe that they would; in fact I’d bet the Oishei Foundation would fund a lawsuit. Not good for the poor, you know. It might keep them from shopping at the Lexington Co-Op.

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