Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Democrats on fool's errand with Wal-Mart issue: UPDATED!

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

In regards to the subject of Wal-Mart, it's always been obvious to me that Democratic politicians are listening the their funders from big labor rather than its working-class base it claims to represent.

Marshall Manson tipped me to this Real Clear Politics article that puts some hard numbers on my beliefs:

· Democratic candidates face different constituencies in different geographic areas, but it is hard to imagine any Democratic candidates in diverse districts winning with the defection of 3-in-10 African-Americans and Hispanics.

· Overall, 40% of registered voters would vote against an anti- Wal-Mart Democratic candidate, while just 18% would vote for such a candidate--a 2-to-1 margin that would be hard to overcome among the balance who say the candidate's anti- Wal-Mart stance would make no difference.

The temptation to "stand up to Wal-Mart" as a campaign ploy reflects the sometimes cocooning and self-deceptive nature of Democratic Party activists. Indeed, in RT Strategies polls we consistently find that the most vociferously anti- Wal-Mart groups are Northeast and West Coast liberals who themselves rarely or never shop at Wal-Mart, shunning the retailer as not worthy of their patronage. They cannot understand how others fail to reach the same conclusion. At the extreme, such a person as a Democratic candidate for office might even want to suggest a few new laws or regulatory interpretations to help those who cannot help but dally in the devil's workshop.

The author of the article is Thomas Riehle, a long-time Democratic pollster.

Ald. Joe "No foie gras for me" Moore is the champion of the anti-Wal Mart forces in Chicago.

I used to live in his ward, there is just one decent retail plaza in his 49th Ward, and it's on the Evanston border. It's not a well-to-do area, in short, it's filled with people who are target customers for Wal-Mart, and these residents probably hop in their cars or a CTA bus and take Touhy Avenue down to the Niles Wal-Mart, contributing to the sales tax revenue of that suburb.

Last week, the Chicago Tribune--free registration required---took Moore to task in an editorial.

Yet some Chicago aldermen want to welcome Wal-Mart with a slap to the head. They're pushing an ordinance that would require all so-called big-box retailers in the city to pay their workers at least $13 an hour in wages and benefits. The $13 minimum would apply to anyone who works more than five hours a week in a store larger than 75,000 square feet. A University of Illinois at Chicago study last year estimated that, as of 2003, this would have applied to about 35 stores in Chicago.

So why Wal-Mart workers and not, say, Radio Shack workers?

Ald. Joe Moore (49th), sponsor of one of several versions of the wage ordinance, argues that the largest retailers "can absorb the higher wage costs." And, he said, "they have nowhere else to go."

Now, as far as we know, Ald. Moore does not have a background in retailing. He worked for the city's Law Department before he joined the City Council. But even if he were Ald. Sam Walton, we'd argue that a City Council member has no grounds for telling a private business what wage scale it can or can't "absorb."

The Trib goes on to point out that yes, Wal-Mart does have other places to go. There are 18 Wal-Marts in Chicago's suburbs, the first Wal-Mart will open on Chicago's West Side this summer, bringing 400 much-needed jobs to an impoverished neighborhood.

My advice to Moore is to walk around his ward and talk to his Rogers Park constituents and ask them what they think about a Wal-Mart opening up on the North Side of Chicago.

My guess is that there answers will surprise him.

And as far as I know, Wal-Mart does not serve foie gras in their cafeterias.

Go for it, Joe.

UPDATE, June 15: Betsy's Page (a big deal blog) adds more, and links back to Marathon Pundit.

Joe Moore really can't laugh off this criticism anymore.

2nd June 15 update: More on the Democrats jihad against Wal-Mart


Thomas Westgard 11:09 AM  

There are quite a few of us up here in Joe Moore's ward who think that he's wildly off track. When you're looking at foie gras and Wal-Mart, it's a question of emphasis. JoMo's been deeply concerned about goose livers (but not veal) and national policy on Wal-Mart. Good for him and the national Democrats who are using him as a test proxy for these issues.

The other side of that equation, though, is that he's been ignoring things that people around here really care about. He completely bungled a threatened landfill on our lakefront, and we really just lucked into finding out about it in time to kill it off. He screwed over a small grassroots group that was trying to get local job training. And although he's on the City's Health Committee, this ward is one of the least served areas in the City, and has been recognized federally as medically underserved.

I don't think people would have any trouble forgiving these flights of fancy on luxury food and national policy, if he were tending to business at home. But he's not.

It'll be a very interesting election up here next February.

John Ruberry 11:12 AM  

Great addition.

Bill Baar 11:45 AM  

There was a time when Illinois fostered the creativity to create our own Wal marts.

Check Before There Was Wal-Mart, There Was Julius Rosenwald

Although few remember, Sears once set the pace for the mass-market world of retail shopping in ways that Wal-Mart does now. Perhaps even less remembered and more interesting, the man responsible for its success was not marketing mastermind and company founder Richard Sears. As Peter Ascoli makes clear in his new book, it was Julius Rosenwald, a pioneering Jewish businessman and philanthropist.

Levois 1:24 PM  

I've been reading a lot about Joe Moore. Isn't it about time for the powers that be to pull him out for not taking care of his constituents.

I think the city council should stay out of this one. Keeping Wal-Mart out of the city will only serve to hurt the city and those who may want the jobs.

NW burbs,  3:55 PM  

Maybe Dems are also listening to the small mom-n-pop shops that Wal*Mart puts out of business in town after town... (A diverse market like greater Chicagoland is worlds different than Smalltown, USA.)

If competition is so good (as free marketers often claim) than why is a virtual Wal*Mart monopoly (esp. in rural areas) acceptable?

Bill Baar 4:39 PM  

Drive down North ave, Chicago ave, or Madison street and take a look at the small business Wal*Mart will knock off....

...small retail died decades earlier in the city. A Wal*Mart generating traffic and keeping dollars in the city and adding some jobs can do nothing but help.

US labor unions don't organize the unemployeed... first step is to get people jobs.

Randall Sherman 5:06 PM  

My Aldersleaze, Joe Moore, has spent his 15 years in office adherining to the motto of not using the truth when a lie can serve him better, and creating phony issues (like foie gras) intead of trying to deal with combating slumlords in his ward (after all, they give him big campaign contributions... those are campaign contributions Joe, not bribes, right????).

You should expect little else from somone who has done whatever he could to minimize the voting base in his ward (the 49th Ward has consistantly been dead last among Chicago's North Side wards in terms of votes in every election for more than a decade), and who routinely arranges for his cronies to challenge the nominating petitions of his opponents.

Secretary/Treasurer, Illinois Committee for Honest Government

Anonymous,  7:06 AM  


Why don't you move back into the 49th Ward and run against Ald. Moore? You can make bringing a Wal-Mart to the community and allowing local restaurants to serve foie gras your top two issues to take to the people.

John Ruberry 9:52 PM  

If I did, I'd run on a platform of providing better city services, closing down those prostitute bars on Howard, cleaning up the garbage off the streets, and yes, bringing in a Wal-Mart.

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