Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's in the Daily News

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News had a banner headline today on the Wal-Mart appeal hearing.

There are just a few things I would have like to have seen added to the story.

In the paragraph on PARD's objections, small businesses, downtown, small-town economies, competition and pushing low-wage workers into the welfare system were addressed. The crux of PARD's appeals, however, are environmental (i.e. increased traffic, water, noise air, and light polution, infrigement on the cemetery, etc.) The article made it sound as if PARD's arguments are strictly economic/business-related, when they aren't. Those are their worst arguments. A letter to the editor earlier this week referred to "the idiotic economic arguments that failed the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development so completely".

In fact, 85-90% of Pullman Chamber of Commerce members are in favor of Wal-Mart. PARD is largely made up of current and retired university faculty and students with no business interests in Pullman. The November City Council election was also mentioned, but not the fact that PARD's candidates both lost by double-digit margins.

The paragraph on Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportunity did mention our belief that business success and propsperity will accompany Wal-Mart into Pullman. But it failed to address what we see as the vital importance of increasing sales tax revenue by keeping our retail dollars local. We have all recently read of Pullman's budget travails. That is THE major issue for BREO.

Some of the key findings of the Global Insight study were left out as well. The 2.2% decline in wages attributable to Wal-Mart was more than offset by the drop in overall consumer prices. Wal-Mart reduced the Consumer Price Index by 3.1% in 2004 so that the net effect on U.S. workers was to increase their real disposable income by 0.9% as reported in the article. This translates into $338.64 added to the annual income of an American who earns the average wage and works 40 hours a week. For consumers, that 3.1% CPI impact translates into an annual net savings of $895 per person or $2,329 per household, which is almost half the cost of tuition at a public four-year university.

With regards to the increased number of people reliant on government health care, Global Insight found that Medicaid expenditures for Wal-Mart employees are consistent with other low-wage workers across the U.S. In Washington, only 2.3% of Wal-Mart workers receive Medicaid, the lowest number in the country. Wal-Mart did not have any effect on food stamp or AFDC/TANF expenditures.

The increased employment reported in the story translates into 210,000 jobs by 2004, a 0.15% increase relative to the number of jobs that would have existed without Wal-Mart

The press release for the Global Insight study can be found here. Links to the individual papers can be found here It is wortwhile reading and I highly recommend it.

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