City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Scott Beyer
Stop Walmart First, Help the Poor Second « Back to Story

View Comments (22)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 22 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
there's no historical data to support a big box retailer paying a livable wage results in harm to the big box retailer. I think WalMart is more concerned about the precedent set by paying urban Washington DC resident workers livable wages versus small-town Iowa or Indiana WalMart wages ($7 maximum). WalMart is very clear that their wage structure isn't a livable wage - their HR videos for employees encourage them to get a 2nd job and/or apply for federal food stamps or Medicare programs. every worker in America works hard and deserves a livable wage. someone from the Manhatten Institute actually had the jutzpa to say that urban teenagers didn't deserve to earn livable wages because they are teenagers. well, if that teenager wants to go to college after high school, he's going to need a boatload of money to do so because his state colleges and universities have raised the cost of education beyond a $7 an hour job. but assume that same worker doesn't go to college: he's STILL going to need more than $7 an hour to live and marry and raise a family! the same Manhatten spokesperson said that minimum wage laws mean that Blacks and Browns won't get a job because the minimum wage is a roadblock to hiring employees. my god, what has this country come to? If only poor, Black, and Brown USA citizens would work for what -- $3 an hour -- there would be no unemployment? excuse me, that's class warfare and has no place in a representative democracy -- you sound like Ayn Rand for god's sakes. every single worker works hard and deserves a livable wage.
Of course it won't hurt Walmart. They will do what they did in Chicago. Build across the street from city limits in a number of places. Those suburbs are more then happy to collect the sales taxes the city doesn't seem to want. City residents manage to get there.

There is a huge Walmart located on State Line road in Hammond Indiana, directly across the street from the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago. Crossing the street saves consumers a third of the sales tax as well, 10.25% vs. 7%. That Walmart turns its back on Hammond, as Walmart has a store serving Hammond residents elsewhere.

City residents are shopping at Walmart. They just go to the suburbs to do so.
I've followed Walmart around the country and all that I see is a giant corporation living off handouts from the local, state and Federal governments. Lower taxes, low wages, higher local medical costs, more welfare created by the other local businesses not being able to compete. In some states, Walmart workers make so little that they can apply for unemployment while working their 20 hour week. This is an abomination. Defending Walmart is a sin!
Liberals always do what is "right" for them. So no jobs in poor areas are better than lower paying jobs for many. While they tend to their Trust Funds and drive their Volvo wagons.
If we want to best serve the under-served, who else is willing to supply food, fresh produce, etc, in these "food deserts?" Has the city council formulated a superior option? Where is it?

As for the objective quality of the jobs--we routinely hear stories where thousands of applicants apply for the hundreds of new jobs to be made available at the opening of new Wal-Mart stores. Is that to say that liberty of these applicants should be impinged upon, since "someone else knows better than the individuals themselves, and we should not allow these individuals to pursue their own self-interest?"

What would happen if the stores were built at the ends of the Metro lines in northern Virginia? Then who would benefit?
"But Walmart is one of the only major retailers.."

You cannot have "one of the only." You can have "one of the few," but "only" is a term that excludes all others.
I have no problem with Walmart, but they are not the answer to economic woes. Honestly I think that places like Walmart contribute to poverty by (1)enticing people with "low prices" when in fact the prices are anything but and (2)encouraging unnecessary spending. The answer to poverty isn't just employment and wages, its also being smarter with the money that you have. And Walmart just doesn't reinforce better spending habits.

@Laurie Davis - Stores like Wegman's and Whole Foods only open in neighborhoods with a high median income. Even if low income neighborhoods have low crime rates, Whole Foods wouldn't set up shop. Gourmet retailers need a customer base with a large amount of consumable income. Poor people just don't have that.
Explain 'living wage' and exactly how that wage is a way of life. First, the entry level wage is one given as the employer assumes the risk of hiring an individual. The cost of training new hires and some of the pitfalls from a new hires errors, not to mention the turnover of new hires is much more than that of the wage paid. A person must earn their merit increases and will get them as they expose their capabilities to be worth far more than that of an entry level position.
These mandated hire wages, as much as 50% over other entry level wages, means that the store is likely to have higher prices to offset the
cost. Now, how is that helpful the 'food deserts' in the region, in desperate need of economic development.
I imagine these economically challenged members of the echo chamber Roundtable, who think of themselves as clever elites, believe Walmart acts in a socialist way by taking profits from one store and spread it around to the stores losing money.
These very people are likely the ones who use a credit card to make payments on other credit card bills.
Brian Easter, Sr July 14, 2013 at 5:37 AM
I was born and raised in D.C.. In those days Mom and Pop stores served their communities very effectively. They hired local people at a living wage, had a variety of items that were popular for that particular community, catered to ethnic groups in the area, were responsive to neighbors needs, shared local news, and probably most importantly, spent their profits back into the local community. Yes, they were and could once again be the good old days.
Recently added Walmart to my repertoire of experiences on a trip with family to buy camp supplies for a teen. We were the only (shall I use the euphemism? Yes!) non-diverse people in the store. I guess that means we supplied the diversity. The father of the family is a teacher who works long hours after school tutoring for extrapay, and the mother a secretary working two part time jobs to equal one. Walmart is an important part of their tight budget. How could they pay for camp clothing and a flashlight at the stores other non-diverse people shop in? Without Walmart, they would have to pay higher prices and go without. Their son by the way is not paying for camp, he is a counselor and goes for free.

But liberals don't understand poor people because that economic state is unimaginable to them. They can't imagine it because they have never experienced it. Walmart is serving an important purpose to people in tough situations, including teachers and secretaries. And it's keeping Bangladesh afloat, too.
Sometimes I wonder if this isn't the first step in the totalitarian left's plan.

Walmart abandons these sites, Mrs. Obama launches (with our tax dollars) national federally subsidized stores where food is given/sold for pennies on the dollar to the vulnerable poor who. Now you'll have legions of federal employees who certainly will get more than a living wage. It's not impossible!
The sad reality is that the poor living in these area will suffer the most. Wegman's and Whole Foods won't open stores in these areas because of high crime. This is about unions and the attack is coming from the Progressive Democrats, who in the end could care less about the people's needs and more about increasing union membership for their own benefit of votes and cash.

I am so tired of hearing the tiresome rhetoric ''it's about quality of life'...
Let this be a lesson to other retailers who are foolish enough to make plans to come to D.C.. Think again before you plunk down millions on buying property and building here. Our student council can change the rules anytime it wants and make new rules as it goes along. It's called "Liberalism" and it's for the "little guy" except when it's not. Like when the union bosses/donors say otherwise. Or the well connected crony big donors. Then the "little guy" is out of luck and sends his kids to lousy dangerous schools while the big shot "bundlers" get ambassadorships to London or Brussels and send their kids to Sidwell Friends where it's safe. Wal-Mart? Low prices? Fresh fruit and vegetables? Giving people with no work history a chance to build a resume' and climb the ladder out of poverty? Please. Who needs that? Rich and powerful Libs are doing just fine, thanks.
I dont care to participate in name calling, but there are some typical liberal views expressed in these comments, usually just made up by those who have closed minds and negative unrealistic attitudes about everything except their own dream worlds.
White liberals - are the new white trash. They know what's good for everybody else. NYT has been railing for years about "food deserts" in low income neighborhoods so minority women don't "have to take two buses or walk a mile (safely) to get groceries", but they have had no editorial about this, because Walmart is not the right kind of retailer. So sorry ladies like with the likely end to stop, question and frisk, you are on your own.
No one is forced to work for Wal-Mart. If the wages are crappy, go work someplace else. When they have trouble attracting or keeping staff, they’ll increase their salaries. I have left low paying jobs for better paying ones.

It is specious to insist that Wal-Mart needs to uplift the poor or ‘do good for the city’. The hard truth of the matter is that Wal-mart is a business, not a charity. Its purpose is to make money - just like every other business.
Let'sTalkCandidly July 11, 2013 at 8:39 PM
My experience with the many unskilled employees at WalMart who are almost unemployable, is that they are earning at about the same level as they produce ~ marginal pay for marginal production. Many of them are lucky that they have WalMart to employ them ~ otherwise they would likely not be working at all. Remember, Walmart is not a charity, it is a business - and one that generates billions in taxes. First off Scott, there are other big box stores here in Washington. Costco, Target and Macy's all would fall under this legislation.

Second, buying cheap Chinese crap is not going to magically lift people out of poverty. In fact, making those wages is the number one reason people are being driven out from the city into the burbs. Coupled with that, they now need to pay for transit to get to their crappy jobs.

I'm glad the council is standing up for their constituents. Wal-mart can pack up their with their toys and leave like a spoiled child that doesn't get their way. I'll shop at Costco where they make a point to take care of their employees and do good for the city.
Whenever there's a strike against Walmart, I'm tempted to join in with a sign reading "Down with low prices!! Down with wide selection!!"

As far as part-timers go, most of America will become (and is becoming) part-timers, mainly due to the onerous and unpopular ObamaCare laws, rules, and regulations.
Robert A. Bustamante July 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM
Lower Prices? The poor need higher wages first. Housing prices, as well as gasoline, fuel oil, and food are too high because wages have not risen. I'm a plumber. In the 1970s a union plumber could buy a decent middle class home in a decent neighborhood on his wage. Today that is unimaginable. Yet the wealthy have seen large increases in their purchasing power. Why? Suppressed wages. You want to fix the economy locally and nationally? Raise wages and not prices. Take the hit like everyone else.
Robert A. Bustamante July 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM
Walmarts have not led to economic development in poor communities. That is why there exists opposition to Walmart's expansion. The opposition did not just materialize for no reason. Most, not "some" of it's workers make minimum wage. Most of Walmart's employees are kept on a part time schedule eliminating benefit obligations for Walmart, and they operate with few permanent Managers. 3/4 of a few is not much. Your article is bias, cynical, and aims to misinform. My opinion of it is indeed bias. I applaud their donations. I'm sure they make a nice tax write off for them, but what the poor need are living wage full time jobs with benefits, actually, not just the poor, but everyone. Thats what fuels strong economies.
Gilbert W. Chapman July 11, 2013 at 4:07 PM
One can only hope that Walmart will build just over the bridge from D.C. in Arlington, Virginia so that the poor may receive the benefits of lower prices by taking a short bus ride.