Why, Bookworm asks, do leftists love Mom 'n' Pop in retail stores, but hate them in medicine? WalMart is evil incarnate, but national health care is the bee's knees. I think the answer lies in whether the entity is the enemy. If so, the bigger the scarier; if not, the smaller the less effective. The enemy is institutions driven by the profit motive, naturally. It is a leftist dream that medicine can function without any profit motive -- as long as they're not the ones expected to work for free, or even for below union wages.
Bookworm's commenters discuss whether and how they use WalMart, and what kind of competitors can stay in business. Our nearest small town sports a WalMart. It's where we go for a variety of basic supplies, when we have to, as long as we don't mind getting stuck with a bottom-of-the-line product that can't be expected to hold up long. We patronize the smaller local stores when we don't mind paying higher prices for better quality or for help from knowledgeable salesmen. Local stores that don't stock better quality or provide knowledgeable salesmen don't stay in business, but I don't blame WalMart for that.
One commenter notes that on-line shopping has taken on the role that Sear's mail-order catalogs once did: bringing a variety of goods to rural people at affordable prices. Mail-order certainly is our primary alternative to WalMart here.