Tuesday, February 15, 2011

why do liberals want to hurt the poor (revisited)? the case of Wal-Mart in NYC

Liberals advocate a number of policies that inadvertently harm the poor-- as use government policy to help favored interest groups (e.g., K-12 education and the case below). This is somewhere between repugnant and regrettable.

Liberals advocate policies that are a decidedly mixed bag in terms of helping the poor (e.g., welfare policies). This is understandable but unfortunate.

Liberals often miss ignore policies that hammer the poor directly (e.g., Social Security and payroll taxes)-- out of ignorance, crass politics, or statist impulses. This is somewhere between sad and ridiculous.

But on occasion, liberals go out of their way to support policies that directly harm the poor-- as in the following case. What can one say about such people?

Here's Charles Fishman in the WSJ...

Last year, New York City residents spent $196 million at Wal-Mart—enough shopping to support three of the company's Supercenters. Manhattanites alone dropped $1 million a week at America's biggest store. That's a pretty remarkable sum, given that there isn't a single Wal-Mart in New York City. It turns out that while city politicians and labor unions have successfully, indeed proudly, kept Wal-Mart out of the five boroughs, they haven't been able to keep New Yorkers out of Wal-Mart stores in New Jersey and Long Island.

The big-box retailer is making a major push to end that inconvenience. Having made an unsuccessful bid five years ago, this time the company is mounting a sophisticated campaign. It features a new website (www.walmartnyc.com), direct mail brochures, radio and newspaper ads, opinion polls, and the consulting savvy of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's former campaign manager and his former pollster.

Wal-Mart's poll shows that 71% of New Yorkers want the store to open. Even in Manhattan, where the prospect of Wal-Mart was least popular, 58% still favor it...

The question, though, is why in capitalist democracy those fears of competition should determine public policy. New York is famous as the center of the nation's media business. But the city didn't step in and ban the Internet 15 years ago out of fear that the city's magazines, ad agencies, TV networks and music recording would be devastated by the new media. And many were.

The city's small groceries, diners, coffee shops, food trucks and boutiques also aren't quite as fragile as the Wal-Mart critics would have us believe. They've already survived the big-box, national-chain onslaught.

Home Depot first came to New York City in 1994. It now has 21 locations, including two in Manhattan. Target first opened in New York in 1998, and now has 10 stores, including one in Harlem. New York has Kohl's and Best Buy, Costco and Ikea, Olive Garden and McDonalds. For those worried about low-priced competition, the city already has 50 Family Dollar outlets....Yes, Wal-Mart is nonunion, but Target and Home Depot and Starbucks are all nonunion as well, as are most mom-and-pop stores.

Perhaps most importantly, it's puzzling why elected officials would oppose a store that, everyone agrees, brings low prices to working-class consumers who need those low prices more than ever....


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home