Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicago Wal-Mart Update II: Inexcusable

Only seven shopping days left till Christmas, and you know what that means: Head for the suburbs.

This year's holiday shoppers have shorter lists, and they're looking for bargains like never before. Industry surveys show that half or more of them are spending time and money at big-box discount chains. Can you say Wal-Mart? Consumers who are seduced by those ads for a $195 iPod Touch or a $299 Toshiba laptop will likely find their closest Wal-Mart outside the city limits, thanks to Chicago's labor unions.

This is doubly maddening if all you want for Christmas is a job. Since 2004, when a divided City Council voted to allow Chicago's first Wal-Mart, the economy has gone down, down, down, while efforts to bring in a second Wal-Mart -- and 500 new jobs -- have gone nowhere.

Employers aren't exactly lining up to come to town these days. The Chicago unions want jobs on their terms or not at all, and they're getting the latter. That's inexcusable.

~Chicago Tribune editorial

18 Comments:

At 12/18/2009 11:22 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

I'm not passing judgment if opening a Walmart is a good or bad thing, but it doesn't pass the straight face test to say that all of the jobs are additive. Some/most of those will replace jobs at other less competitive stores.

Again, not judging if this is a good/bad thing, just saying that it's disingenuous to imply that opening a Walmart store adds 500 jobs in Illinois.

 
At 12/18/2009 12:13 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This just sounds like it's being used as Bentonville's political football / PR department pressure piece to force their way in.

If they want in so badly, they'll agree to their terms and not try to pull a Jonquiere (or otherwise hobble the store) in doing it.

...but that would tarnish their record. If Bentonville were serious about putting a Wal-Mart in South Chicago, it would work with the existing apparatus, not against it.

 
At 12/18/2009 12:42 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

even if the jobs are zero sum, the whole ares benefits from lower prices. it's still a net win.

seth- you are missing the boat here.

"If Bentonville were serious about putting a Wal-Mart in South Chicago, it would work with the existing apparatus, not against it."

uh, no. walmart is a business. (and a successful one) they have a model they follow that makes money. if you ask them to change that model so that it doesn't make money, they will say no. that's a smart business decision.

it's not about "if they want in so badly" it's about does it make financial sense. you seem to be applauding a group that makes it hard to open new businesses. why should union officials get to decide what wages a worker can accept or what prices consumers pay?

this is not about walmart forcing its way in, it's about unions trying to keep them out to protect their own to the detriment of all the city's consumers.

 
At 12/18/2009 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morganovich,

Please don't try to appeal to Sethstorm based on sound economics principles. It's a wasted effort. Pearls before swine and all that.

 
At 12/18/2009 1:00 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Looking at the map its about 8-10 miles to the nearest suburb. For those who have autos it is not a problem getting to the suburbs, and looking at a detailed map it is several blocks from the proposed site to rapid transit. So I don't see why Wal-Mart worries about being in the city, since it is setting up for most of its customers having cars. Most suburbs would salivate over the tax revenue a Wal-Mart would bring in. If the big city doesn't want it let the suburb have it.

 
At 12/18/2009 1:16 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


it's not about "if they want in so badly" it's about does it make financial sense. you seem to be applauding a group that makes it hard to open new businesses. why should union officials get to decide what wages a worker can accept or what prices consumers pay?

Well, they seem to present it to Chicago as if they were seeking something other than profit. They speak of jobs first, then speak about the demand. They also speak of it as if it was being done on principle first, profit second.

This is not about walmart forcing its way in
If it isn't, then why are they making so much PR efforts to effectively do just that? They can spend as much on that as they want, but there will be a point where it crosses from profit to loss to unacceptable loss.

I maintain that these articles are just PR efforts that attempt to show a 'humane' side of Bentonville that really does not exist.

It doesn't matter if it's South Chicago or some other locality that objects to them - the same principle of PR pressure applies.

 
At 12/18/2009 1:38 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

alternately, it might be an attempt to publicly call out a bunch of obstructionist thugs and attempt to create a level playing field...

 
At 12/18/2009 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politicians don't want jobs--only government jobs and union jobs that obey government.

 
At 12/18/2009 3:32 PM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

Sethstorm claims that Wal-Mart is trying to FORCE its way in. No, Wal-Mart is not using force.

But the UNIONS and progressives (who care nothing about the working class or the poor) ARE using force to keep Wal-Mart OUT.

Remember, government is FORCE, not an advisory group. All govt does is tell you you MUST do this, or you CAN'T do that.

And they back it with the police, courts and prison. If Wal-Mart tries to build a store in Chicago, and the police and courts will enforce penalties or worse.

I say again, Wal-Mart is NOT using force.

 
At 12/18/2009 3:34 PM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

One reason Wal-Mart does not cave to local political demands is that quickly the rest of the bergs in the country would start their extortion proceedings.

Wal-Mart offers other cities the chance to have a store there -- reaping jobs, consumer relief and seles tax revenue -- often at the expense of the union-controlled cities.

 
At 12/18/2009 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, they seem to present it to Chicago as if they were seeking something other than profit. They speak of jobs first, then speak about the demand. They also speak of it as if it was being done on principle first, profit second.

Why should free men have to beg some corrupt little cabal of union cronies permission to do business in an American city? This isn't about the interests of the greater community, which would be served by Wal-Mart opening a store, it's about the corrupt influence of a labor cartel, which has bought it's way into city government. Are they demanding that every business in the city submit to their demands? No. This isn't about public interest, it's about union corruption.

Yes, they are in business to make a profit - so what? Profit seeking makes us all richer, while unions have only made millions of us poorer. Listen to the objectors pathetic moral preening, as if they actually cared about the community and not their own power and influence. Wal-Mart has provided, directly and indirectly, employment for millions . It has forced efficiencies into the system that have reduced the costs of essential goods to millions more, raising the standard of living in the process.

What have the unions accomplished? The destruction of the American steel and auto industries. The driving of millions of manufacturing jobs offshore with their unfettered greed. The corruption of our political process and the undermining of our civic finances. Always using their corrupt influence to steal from the American taxpayer.

Who the hell are you to sit in judgment of the people at Wal-Mart?

 
At 12/18/2009 3:41 PM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

Of course, Chicago is not alone in restricting or banning Wal-Marts. Even moderate (but union controlled) San Diego falls into this trap.

Like most major California cities, San Diego prohibits super-Wal-Marts. As a result, surrounding communities are in the process of letting Wal-Mart set up shop there.

As a San Diego resident, I live close to Poway. By the end of next year, I'll be spending most of my sales tax dollars in Poway's new Super-Wal-Mart and a neighboring Costco.

My city of SD will see a further erosion of their sales tax revenue -- poetic justice, in my mind.

 
At 12/18/2009 6:52 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


One reason Wal-Mart does not cave to local political demands is that quickly the rest of the bergs in the country would start their extortion proceedings.

Only for cases in the US/EU. That doesn't hold true for China, where they cave in to demands of their government(which is more corrupt than the worst of the SEIU). Over there, extortion is the rule.


Yes, they are in business to make a profit - so what? Profit seeking makes us all richer, while unions have only made millions of us poorer.

I'd not be so quick to split unions and businesses that way. What makes it ok to seek rents as a business from government but a cardinal sin if your business is labor representation? Don't think for a second that isn't the case; both seek the same thing from government but there are two different reactions in doing so.

Consider it as a question of influence and not profit.



The driving of millions of manufacturing jobs offshore with their unfettered greed.

That is due to regulatory capture, with the consequences of affecting all workers, not just unionized ones. What better way to avoid all the progress of the 21st Century if you can find parts of the world still stuck in the 19th in terms of labor practices.

I'd ask you this: What do you do when there is no place to offshore to(say, wholesale obliteration/crippling of said economies or as a result of development of Third World countries)? You would do well to consider what happens when you have painted yourself in that corner w/ avoiding the First World via offshoring (and the people are still as angry as they were in 2003).

(Note: That isn't an 'if' question, but a 'when' question.)


I say again, Wal-Mart is NOT using force.

So the folks in Bentonville can exert the same influence over governments as unions do, and it is not force? That makes for a very inconsistent set of rules if labor seeks the very same influence over government action.

 
At 12/18/2009 9:48 PM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

[I say again, Wal-Mart is NOT using force.]

<>

Thanks, Sethstorm, for demonstrating your fundamental lack of understanding concerning the use of force. Wal-Mart wants to make VOLUNTARY transactions to establish a business.
Wal-Mart presumably is not asking government to force people to sell their land for the store, or to provide taxpayer subsidies, or to force customers to come to the store to make purchases.

But folks such as yourself want to use the police and courts to PREVENT such voluntary, peaceful transactions.

You are the warmonger in this arena, my friend. In the old days, you'd have used Mafia goons -- today you use government to impose your will on others to profit yourself and your union friends.

The sanitized economic term for your actions is "rent seeking" -- trying to gain through government what you cannot gain through persuasion, or the marketplace. Buy the truth is, you're are just another thug trying to profit by using force to prevent competition.

When the Mafia does it, it's illegal. When you do it through government, it is really the same thing -- though sadly not illegal.

The stark contrast between ugly union/government force and voluntary transactions of the free market is there for all to see.

 
At 12/19/2009 1:34 AM, Anonymous Jim Glass said...

New York City is even worse: zero Wal-Marts serving a mere eight million people.

Here's one recent example why.

 
At 12/19/2009 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should have "valued added percentage" labels on goods, like the ingredients labels on food. It would tell you what % of the good was made or assembled where. Then you can make your free market decision - save money and buy Chinese products? OK, but don't complain when your brother in law loses his job at the plant across town.

 
At 12/19/2009 12:00 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Then explain what the Pinkertons did in Colorado and what Ford Security was doing to union supporters at an overpass. I suppose they both were having a friendly chats about how they disagreed with unionization.

The same things for which are being done in China, India, and about every Third World country that takes First World jobs.

The only difference that is apparent in the First World is that our kind uses lawyers that make John Edwards seem saintly to do the same things. See Bentonville's efforts in that department as well as their intimidation towards their employees last election cycle.

They would most certainly want to turn back the clock in labor practices if it meant they were "globally competitive" with China. The problem is that it would expose as a company willing to use direct thug tactics(something that is routinely accused of its opponents).

At least Sam Walton knew well enough to kill unions with kindness. His progeny sold their souls, sovereignty, and civility for what they have now.

 
At 12/19/2009 6:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Then explain what the Pinkertons did in Colorado and what Ford Security was doing to union supporters at an overpass. I suppose they both were having a friendly chats about how they disagreed with unionization"...

The Pinkertons and Ford Security were showing us how these alledged union supporters were a collection of socialist sissies...

 

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