Thursday, May 13, 2004
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Drezner gets results from Steve Chapman!!
Steve Chapman's op-ed column in today's Chicago Tribune picks up on the debate about inner-city Wal-Marts in Chicago that I touched on last week. The good parts:
posted by Dan on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM
Speaking as a resident of the City of Atlanta, I would be very happy if a Wal Mart located close by. The K-Marts that are located "inside the Perimiter" have been going out of business (dim stores, mediocre merchadise). I like Target pretty well, and they have a couple stores that are not too far away, but they could use a little competition on the low end.
It's easy to scorn Wal-Mart and mock its patrons. But I wonder how you can be a true "progressive" and complain about low prices for the masses.
Hope someone from Bentonville is reading this blog and taking notes.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I am not going to tell the residents of inner city Chicago if a Wal-Mart would be a good or bad thing for the community as a whole.
I think that cheaper goods are a good thing, especially for low-income people. But there is a rarely heard story about the downside of Wal-Mart that should also be considered.
Wal-Mart is huge and drives down costs by purchasing everything in huge quantities. This is good, but it also makes it incredibly difficult for a start-up company to get shelf-space at a Wal-Mart. The stores are not equipped to handle small quantities of locally produced goods.
I am not sure of the situation in Chicago, but in many other inner city areas there is tremendous entreopreneurship precisely because the retail market is so fragmented. There are costs of this fragmentation in that a standard product will be more expensive. But there are benefits as well, as a local manufacturer will find it easier to establish a market. This type of activity provides jobs for local people, and opportunities to build wealth for the residents of the area.
The distribution and retail environment is different in suburban areas, where huge spaces and stores make retail purchases more concentrated in a few stores. The lack of Wal-Marts in the inner city is one of the emerging competitive advantages of those markets.
Now there is a cost to this fragmented system, but lets just be clear that there are benefits as well before making a decision which way is better.posted by: Rich on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Wal-Mart critics don't make their case by knocking the chain's low prices and convenient locations. That would truly be silly.
It is precisely the fact that shoppers "will like it" that concerns them. Wal-Mart doesn't compete with smaller, family owned & operated neighborhood shops - it crushes them. It is essentially a leveraged buy-out of the local commerce.
The resulting death of neighborhood shops and corner markets is the real concern of these critics.
posted by: wishIwuz2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I have been buying from a local afro-american fruitstand for years. (Great southern veggies from their cousin's farm in South Georgia.).I watched with trepidation as a brand spankin new Kroger rose across the street from the stand. You know, one of those super groceries with every kind of veggie known to man in attractive surroundings. I thought my fuitstand was doomed.
The Kroger opened. The masses swarmed. (There was a dearth of stores acceptable to the urban gentrifiers in the neighborhood). And the fruitstand?
Business never better....Folks stopped in the Kroger for all their groceries, and stopped at the fruitstand for extra veggies.
And meanwhile, to survive, the somewhat substandard groceries changed their focus. The one I had been using decided to better serve their Mexican and Jamaican customers, meaning a flood of very different and tasty products. Also, the meat sales have been constant,and the crowd has been fairly large.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Today it's Wal-Mart as the evil destroyer of the mom-and-pop store. Before, it was Kresge's (now K-Mart) and Woolworth's.
The times change but the whining remains the same.posted by: Mike on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I saw something funny the other day at the Harold Washington Library. Eric Schlosser, author of "Reefer Madness", was in the auditorium to talk about his book. After his speech he opened the floor to questions from the audience.
One gentleman must have been in town, or he traveled all the way from Louisiana, asked a question about what unions can do today to organize and achieve success despite the odds against them. Schlosser responded basically saying unions really have one of the poorest record of success over the last 20 years. The questioner was not encouraged at all.
But later some other people asked Eric about Wal-Mart. Eric went on to say he doesn't like Wal-Mart and that he only likes to give his money to "responsible" enterprises. But then the same Louisiana man stood up and started talking positive about Wal-Mart. He told a story about how in one of the poorest sections of New Orleans the local merchants that had been raking the community with high prices on common goods like milk and other food products were the principals organizing against the entrance on Wal-Mart into the market.
He said the people wanted Wal-Mart because many of the residents lacked transportation to drive outside the community where lower prices could be found. The only people that were able to shop outside the community were the wealthy, middle class and the merchants themselves. This was very upsetting to the poorest people as they viewed it as the few trying to control the many.
He did not go on to offer thoughts on the aftermath, but it sure makes me curious if Wal-Mart ever did enter that market and if so, what was the outcome on the community.
A pro-union guy advocating for Wal-Mart? I tried to meet him but he left the engagement early.posted by: Brennan Stout on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Appalled Moderate: There's a similar story right in my neck of the woods.
A produce store opened to great success. Their prices were lower and the quality was higher than the major grocers of Jewel-Osco(Albertsons) and Dominicks(Safe-Way). The place is ALWAYS packed. Their parking lot is not big enough to support the number of shoppers.
To attract even more people they started carrying ethnic foods for Indian, Korean, Polish and Japanese cuisine. Essentially they now carry many of the things that Jewel and Dominicks don't even stock in addition to the superior produce and lower prices.
It's a family owned enterprise.posted by: Brennan Stout on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
A see lot of mischaracterizing of the opposition to WalMart.
I read the link you referred to, and it is clear that the issue is better work condition. Is there an unsaid assumption here that without shitty wages, Wal-Mart wouldn't be cheap. If so, let me be the first to say: That's complete nonsense.
So why shouldn't a community say, come here but pay better wages ? That is what the Chicago community is saying and you are doing no one service by misrepresenting it, especially the Chicago residents (Dan) who cannot claim ignorance. Finally, to everyone dwelling on Mom&Pop store protectionism, I saw no mention of that as a factor in the link. None.
"Concerns largely center on wages and benefits at Wal-Mart, and critics recite widely reported complaints that the company abuses workers, particularly those who try to unionize its 1.4 million employees."
"If Wal-Mart comes, it will come recognizing that this is not Tupelo..."
My two cents.posted by: ch2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Your story of the independent fruit stand is mirrored by the experience of independent coffee-shop and Starbucks. Many were afraid that they would be driven out of business. Instead, a majority have seen business increase. Starbucks brings out more people, and some of those people are exposed, for the first time, to the homier, non-homogeneous trappings that contrast with Starbucks.posted by: Barry Posner on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
The "Mom" and "Pop" stuff comes from comments by Rich and IwishIwuz2, not the original links. Really, any working conditions violations is between WalMart, its workers, and to the extent there are law violations, the government. If there are legal sweatshop conditions at WalMart and other employees, that is matter for generally applicable legislation, not prejudicial actions against WalMart because it's well known.
As a consumer in a store, I'm looking for decent prices, high quality goods and some ability to find what the $%^$% I'm looking for. I'm really not going to be concerned if they are paying a living wage. This makes me the average consumer.
Another though re your comment. Are you equating self-proclaimed community leaders with the Chicago community? It strikes me that the whole point of the original link was that the "community" was divded on the point.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart. Three days a week, I work right next to one, and I won't shop there because I find the whole experience so unpleasant.
Having said that, I think that Wal-Mart had a perfect right to put a store there. I also think that it would have been wrong (and perhaps unconstitutional) to require that Wal-Mart pay more than the minimum wage, provide insurance, or hire only union workers.
There is a case to be made for zoning laws restricting the size of stores, but somehow I doubt that there would be the same chorus of opposition if it were Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue who wanted to open a store of the same size - a store that, in either case, would do far less for the residents of the neighborhood.posted by: Silicon Valley Jim on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I think Daniel actually did address the arguments that Wal-Mart mistreats it's employees. Go back and check the discussion of their average wage rates and medical insurance coverages, as well as the figures about union penetration into private industry.
It isn't enough to say that Wal-Mart doesn't provide the pay and benefits that are offered to workers outside the retail industry. There must be evidence that Wal-Mart's pay and benefit package is significantly less generous than their competitors, be they Target, Sears, local shops, etc. I have yet to see any critic offer any sort of evidence that this is the case. Until tehn, I will assume that the millions of Wal-Mart employees are working there voluntarily and are happy with their compensation and work conditions.
I tend to agree with those who think the opposition is led by local merchants, who are concerned for their own livelihoods, not the needs of the community. To them, I offer that Sam Walton started as a local retailer, and within his lifetime had built the largest retailer in the world. Why should Wal-Mart be penalized because he had more vision, talent, and drive than your average shopkeeper?
BTW, I'm actually a Target fan, but I'm uncormfortable with depriving the voiceless inner-city consumer the right to low prices (and resulting increase in standard of living).posted by: Patrick Barnette on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
My wife and I are by no means poor but the bulk of our retail dollars goes to Walmart and Sams, and has done so for neary 20 years.
Overall, they represent excellent value and reduce the amount of time spent shopping.
That there would be isolated abuses of employees in a chain of thousands of large stores is not unexpected.
We eagerly await the opening of a super walmart in our little town in MS so we do not have to travel 30 miles to one.posted by: tallan on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Anyone want to take a stab at estimating how much sales tax revenue the city of Chicago is denied because residents must travel to suburban neighborhoods to shop at Wal-Mart?
I wonder where Daley is gonna reside on this issue.
As for resisting the unionization of Wal-Mart employees I think they have every right to do so. They didn't start with a Employee relations staff in every store. Sam Walton never had these in the first stores. They were added in order to address the issues that a union has met for other industries, only the service is right in the store. To a greater extent, I imagine regionally this option to employees grows.
Chapman points out the wage and benefits concerns. Wal-Mart starting pay for inexperienced workers is $7-8 an hour? That bests minimum wage by 36 percent. But at an average of 10.77 an hour that bests the total survey of service sector jobs in the private sector for the region, according to an Oct 2002 BLS survey, which reported an average hourly rate of $9.18.
OT, but in that same survey the state and government jobs for the same sector report average hourly wages of $20.85. The state/government sector is the largest employer of the entire region by the way.
Who said guv'ment jobs don't pay well?posted by: Brennan Stout on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
No mention of India's elections, eh? I guess Americans are not the only ones who feel that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Class war anyone?posted by: Lynne on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Here's a link to a pdf detailing the hidden costs of a Wal-Mart to communities.
Drezner and others miss an important point when they compare Wal-Mart's wages and working conditiions to Target or other retail employers. It's not those retail workers who are objecting to Wal-Mart's arrival.
The problem is when Wal-Mart sells so many food items that their stores are competing with unionized grocery stores. Those unionized workers at Jewel and Dominick's stores in Chicago are making middle class money with excellent benefits. The density of unionization for that segment of the retail industry means that those workers are net contributors to all levels of government. Wal-Mart's employees, on the other hand, are far more likely to be on food stamps, receiving their children's health insurance from the state, and getting back money from the Earned Income Tax Credit.
If Wal-Marts did not sell food, there would still be problems with their power as a buyer in the market and importer of goods from Communist China. They's still be under investigation by Bush's Justice Dep't for knowingly employing illegal aliens and for violating the Trading With Enemies Act. But, at least they wouldn't be threatening the wages of middle class grocery store employees.
The author of the article on the Wal-Mart in Crenshaw concluded that nothing bad had happened when the giant came to town. S/he must have slept thru that long grocery workers labor action earlier this year. That lockout/strike was mostly caused by two factors: 1) runaway health costs and 2) the advance of Wal-Mart as a grocer in Southern California.posted by: James Withrow on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
So, what's your solution? That Wal-Mart should not be allowed to sell groceries?
In the 20 years I have lived in Atlanta, the churning in the grocery business has been rather startling. A lot of chains have gone out of business, and been replaced by other chains. I expect a lot of people lost good jobs when this happened.
What makes employees of Safeway and Jewel in California more sacrosanct than the employees of Food Giant, Cub Foods, Big Star, A&P and Winn Dixie here in Atlanta?posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I expressed my understanding of the point being made by Wal-Mart's critics. If other posters wish to believe those were my criticisms - I can't stop them.
The free-market ideals and local customizations expressed elsewhere also apply to the big chains. Most are cognizant of local shopping tastes, and adjust their stock accordingly.
I understood that the CA argument against Wal-Mart's grocery business was the "non-union" aspect to it.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Apalled Moderate & Patrick Barnette,
Really, any working conditions violations is between WalMart, its workers, and to the extent there are law violations, the government. If there are legal sweatshop conditions... .
All right let's back off the hyperbole. Wal-Mart has a serious problem with providing adequate wages. I am not talking sweatshop, and while there are some legal issues, they are mostly on the legal side of things.
I'm really not going to be concerned if they are paying a living wage.
Are you equating self-proclaimed community leaders with the Chicago community? It strikes me that the whole point of the original link was that the "community" was divded on the point.
I did not intend to equate them but I see that I wrote otherwise.
There must be evidence that Wal-Mart's pay and benefit package is significantly less generous than their competitors, be they Target, Sears, local shops, etc.
I thought that was a given. I'm not objecting to Wal-Mart coming, but I'm not going to object to Community leaders bargaining with Wal-Mart either. Just because people are desperate for a job does not mean that companies should get away with paying bare subsistance wages and benefits. If you want to call it protectionism, call it wage/benefits protectionism. It sounds like the classical fair trade issue to me. Wal-Mart gets to make more money, the community gets better jobs.posted by: ch2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Ok. Reasonable responses. I wish you wouldn't reprint my typos, but then again, perhaps I should not make them in the first place...
I have a problem with a recent trend in demonizing specific companies for problems which apply to a lot of companies besides the ones being demonized. For example, WalMart pays crappy wages. So does McDonald's, Burger King, and the friendly local store WalMart is putting out of business. The problem isn't WalMart, really. It's that our fearless leaders have allowed the increase in the minimum wage rate to fall behind inflation.
Now, local leaders certainly can use the levers at their disposal to pressure a company to accede to certain wishes. The skill involved, of course, is to get the maximum numnber of concessions without scaring the company -- and its jobs --away. The Chicago community leaders, by being so ham handed, are to WalMart, what George W is to the International Community.
Check out this great "City Journal" article about Wal-Mart (it addresses all of the issues raised in this post): http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_2_what_does_the_war.html.
P.S. If you don't regularly read Victor Davis Hanson on "NRO", check out his essay in the same issue of "City Journal" -- he is an amazing writer who always offers great historical perspective.
- Jeffposted by: Jeff Singer on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
James Withrow said "Wal-Mart's employees, on the other hand, are far more likely to be on food stamps, receiving their children's health insurance from the state, and getting back money from the Earned Income Tax Credit."
Is the evidence of this in the report from the House Democrats?posted by: Brennan Stout on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
wish you wouldn't reprint my typos
I have a problem with a recent trend in demonizing specific companies for problems which apply to a lot of companies besides the ones being demonized. For example, WalMart pays crappy wages. So does McDonald's, Burger King, and the friendly local store WalMart is putting out of business.
You're right that there is some totally unnecessary demonizing. And you raise a very interesting point too. Is it just that we've now all accepted that a fast-food job is going to be a shitty position, no matter what ? Have we relegated certain industries to a "inevitably a minimum wage job" category, to be addressed only by the weak increases in minimum wages every few years ? I think I may be guilty of thinking that way.
The skill involved, of course, is to get the maximum numnber of concessions without scaring the company -- and its jobs --away. The Chicago community leaders, by being so ham handed...
There is a definitely a certain ham-handedness to councilmen and women (not the pinnacle of politicians), especially when they are grandstanding for the homecrowd. So yeah, their public strategy may well run counter to their goal of a negotiated Wal-Mart opening. But you should also consider that the Community leaders know they have a weak hand. They can threaten not to rezone for Wal-Mart, but you know that it is unlikely and people would be pissed. Their best bet really is to make it a PR issue, with all the unnecessary grandstanding it entails.
Thanks for an interesting discussion.posted by: ch2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
About a million and a half people willingly exchange their time for the amount of money Wal-Mart is paying. That fact tends to belie the supposition of "inadequate" wages. Are you saying that Wal-Mart should pay them more than they are willing to accept?
I thought that was a given. I'm not objecting to Wal-Mart coming, but I'm not going to object to Community leaders bargaining with Wal-Mart either. Just because people are desperate for a job does not mean that companies should get away with paying bare subsistance wages and benefits. If you want to call it protectionism, call it wage/benefits protectionism. It sounds like the classical fair trade issue to me. Wal-Mart gets to make more money, the community gets better jobs.
They're not "the community"'s jobs. Why should a person who doesn't work at Walmart have any say over whether someone else works there?posted by: David Nieporent on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Steven Chapman has a column in The Chicago Tribune titled "Would Wal-Mart be Bad for Poor Chicagoans?" on efforts to block Wal-Mart stores from Chicago's South and West sides. He almost makes the valid point that in underserved communities with high unemployment the benefits of a few hundred jobs and the Always Low Prices that have undeniably been a boon to working class consumers may outweigh the downside Wal-Mart. I say 'almost' because he fails to acknowledge the downside of Wal-Mart. He dismisses the whole idea with the blithe:
"Wal-Mart, whose chief crime is to become one of the most successful companies in American history. All the giant retailer is threatening to bring is a few hundred jobs and a lot of inexpensive products."
This overlooks a few small things.
If Wal-Mart was succeeding by playing according to the rules of some Ayn Randian fantasy free market, then they wouldn't have the largest corporate PAC in the country.
I could keep going, but you get the point.
Wal-Mart has incredibly low prices and the amount of purchasing power that working class people have gained from that and the role that they've played in keeping inflation at bay is not to be underestimated. But don't pretend that that hasn't been achieved by bending the rules, breaking the rules and rewriting the rules.
There was a time when the front line workers of the largest employer in the US had good health insurance, pensions, owned their own homes and could send their kids to college. Wal-Mart represents the end of that.
Chapman (and Drezner) would have more credibility if he proposed some things to ensure that Wal-Mart is a good for poor Chicagoans. He doesn't.
I don't think that blocking Wal-Mart is the only productive response to Wal-Mart's advance into cities. I think that communities should bargain harder with big box stores, Wal-Mart especially.
Instead of wheeling out the gravy train, they should be demanding Wal-Mart put up money for improving mass transit nodes at their location. Communites should be demanding that the stores limit there footprint, build in multiple stories and provide a parking garage underneath, rather than driving sprawl. (As Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean did exactly that when Wal-Mart wanted to build in Burlington and it became part of a successful downtown revitalization rather than creating sprawl that sucked the life out of downtown.) They should require them to put money into escrow to deal with locations they abandon or require them to turn abandoned locations over to any suitable new tenant.
Finally, they should require independent monitoring of working conditions, the way the GAP monitors working conditions in their supplier factories as well as requiring them to sign neutrality agreements with respect to union organizing.
The problem isn't Wal-Mart's bigness or their success. It's that they are leading the charge to lower our standard of living. And anyone who says that the logic (magic) of the free market ensures that Wal-Mart's success can only lead to a rise in our standard of living, can start explaining that logic by explaining to all of us how MacDonald's success has made us all healthier.posted by: Marc Brazeau on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
They're also damned slow at paying their bills. They got where they are bending or breaking every rule on the books, make no mistake about it. As for their employees willingly trading their labor for their wages - well, sure. At this rate, about 150 million of us will be willingly working for minimum wage, because there won't be an alternative. Don't be smug, you can be next. Count on it.
"No mention of India's elections, eh? I guess Americans are not the only ones who feel that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Class war anyone?"
I guess this means that India can go back to the glorious quasi-socialist policies of the past decades that created such prosperity among the lower classes.
As for Wal-Mart, I have mixed feelings. Clearly, lower-income people benefit from Wal-mart's lower prices. And, as a small grocer's son, I certainly don't hear many people calling for the elimination of chain grocery stores to bring back the mom-and-pops. And, of course, they shouldn't.
On the other hand, Wal-Mart seems to be somewhat of a different animal. While I agree that Wal-mart has been unfairly demonized at times, there are legitimate issues with their business practices and the way they treat employees. The idea that, well all these people are working there voluntarily so it's none of our business what the company does doesn't make sense. By that standard, children working in factories in the early twentieth century were there "voluntarily" so why regulate child labor?posted by: MWS on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I believe hearing on the local public radio station that the big corporation with the highest percentage of it's employees on state subsidized medical care in the state of Washington is Walmart. I have nothing against the company's succes, but I do cringe at the idea that this organization, which has made several of it's owners some of the richest people in the world, would expect the small businesses of this state to subsidize their employee's health care. That isn't good business sense, it's GREED.posted by: Dale on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Barry Posner wrote:
Actually, that fact does not belie that wages may be inadequate. It underscores the desperation of some people to find anything, and I'll repeat it again: Just because people are desperate for a job does not mean that companies should get away with paying bare subsistance wages and benefits.
P.S.: "inadequate" does not mean "unacceptable to anyone" either. I use it to mean that it fails to provide a decent wage. I define a decent wage as one where you can pay shelter/transportation/food/clothing/healthcare, and you either get a pension plan or have enough leftover to slowly save for your retirement. Any salary that requires you to live in a hovel, or on foodstamps and medicaid, even though you are fully employed is NOT decent. And if you disagree with me on this point, we are down to irreconciliable differences.posted by: ch2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
They're not "the community"'s jobs. Why should a person who doesn't work at Walmart have any say over whether someone else works there?
Well, despite your dislike, the fact is that the "community" does have a say if it requires a change in zoning. If your issue is with the zoning laws, I don't feel qualified to argue the pros and cons here. If your issue is with the community (i.e. majority of city council) using a means at their disposal to increase the wages of members of the community, that's pretty common. Until there is a right for businesses to build a store wherever they want, it's the community's right to decide.posted by: ch2 on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
"I define a decent wage as one where you can pay shelter/transportation/food/clothing/healthcare, and you either get a pension plan or have enough leftover to slowly save for your retirement. Any salary that requires you to live in a hovel, or on foodstamps and medicaid, even though you are fully employed is NOT decent. And if you disagree with me on this point, we are down to irreconciliable differences."
Sir: as a graduate studnt, I take home slightly more than $1000 per month, or the equivalent of $5.75 per hour, which is considerably less than almost all Wal-Mart employees. I don't live in a hovel, nor do I consume food stamps or Medicaid. In fact, I have enough money to enjoy luxuries such as a trip to Jamaica at xmas, a trip to the UK during spring break, a case of Dogfish Head every month or so, visits to Formula 1 races in Indy and Montreal, and things such as a new radiator for my car. Without going into debt or starving myself.
Does that qualify as an "irreconcilable difference"?
I reject your "desparation" hypothesis. Better wages are available to those who invest in obtaining higher-valued skills. If a person has no wish to obtain those skills, then they can settle for $8/hour at WalMart or McDonalds. It's a free choice.posted by: Barry Posner on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Yes, Barry, but you have the light of a doctorate (and presumably a good job accompanying that doctorate) at the end of the tunnel--you can afford to rack up credit card debt. Moreover, you don't mention any dependents, your university probably subsidizes your health insurance, and you get student discounts at area businesses. As for getting better skills--you think a single mother of two is going to have the time to attend night school?posted by: Maureen on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I have essentially no credit card debt (less than $1000). Some people borrow against future earnings to make university life more pleasant, but I don't (I do have about $5k of student loans outstanding from my undergraduate days). I've just been careful, it's not so hard to do. I pay $29 per month for health care, which is partly subsidized by the University. I am single. There are very few "student discounts" I utilize, they add up to a total of maybe $5 per month.
It isn't hard to be fiscally responsible, it just takes a little effort - more than a lot of people awilling to make, it appears.
As for the "single mother in night school" scenario, well, those women made choices to have children with irresponsible men. They made their bed, so to speak.
Why is it that so many people feign victimhood when their *own bad choices* have made their lives somewhat less than spectacular?posted by: Barry Posner on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
I find it interesting to read that Walmart will be destructive to locally produced goods. As a Chicagoan and someone who frequents stores of GENUINELY LOCAL produced goods (i.e., boutique shops) I can tell you, they aren't in danger. They are geared towards a whole different type of customer.
Yes, Mom and Pop stores that sell NON local goods will suffer, but the consumers of these stores will benefit.
For wealthy consumers like me who want a good deal on electronics, furniture, dishes, you name it I turn on my computer, go online, hunt it down and get it shipped to my home. The working poor may or may not have the ability to go on line -- and depeneding on how busy they are they may not be able to afford the TIME for a trip to the suburbs. How can I tell them they can't have a WalMart in their neighborhood?
posted by: Carolynn on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
Barry and Maureen -
Something we should note, a $7/hour job ISN'T a bad thing if it is your first job! It gives you experience...which enables you to climb up the sales ladder.
My first job, babysitting, was for $2.00 an hour -- and it wasn't a waste.
Carolynnposted by: Carolynn on 05.13.04 at 09:38 AM [permalink]
But the people in the neighborhoods where the stores are planned (one on the South Side and one on the West Side) bear an uncanny resemblance to other Americans in (a) their desire for a bargain and (b) their preference not to have to travel far to get it.
Can the overall sum effect of something really be measured solely by the selfishness of and economic pressures on the majority of people?
The danger, from the standpoint of the critics, is not that Chicagoans will detest Wal-Mart but that they'll like it.
That seems awfully similar to the right's attitude towards liberalization of drug laws.
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