Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"The Local Costs and Benefits of Wal-Mart"

Two members of the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics reviewed recent research on the local impacts of new or expanding big box retail and summarized their findings in a report titled: "The Local Costs and Benefits of Wal-Mart"

Not suprisingly, since they included such highly biased and discredited studies such as Dube and Jacobs (2004), Stone (1997) and the Rep . George Miller Democratic Staff Report, the authors found that"... there is not a clear answer to the question “Is Wal-Mart good for local communities?”

For example, one "study" (Basker) concludes there is no evidence that Wal-Mart has “attraction effects” on other businesses at county level. This conclusion flies in the face of common sense. Businesses jockey to be near a Wal-Mart Supercenter, such as Home Depot and Lowe's. One company even specializes in developing strip malls near Wal-Mart Supercenters.

The Ohio State paper addresses every flawed study and objection that PARD has raised, including the lawsuits, small businesses closing, traffic, and increased cost of social services for Wal-Mart workers. However, before you PARDners get too gleeful, the authors conclude:
In communities without big box retail, the opportunity costs of keeping out Wal-Mart or other supercenters is high. Without the option of lower priced goods available and the competitive pressure that supercenters bring, consumers are forced to pay substantially higher prices.
That would be Pullman. And the costs have been staggeringly high; in taxpayer's money to fight PARD's appeal, in incalculable increased costs to resident consumers, and the approximately $150 million in taxable sales lost every year from Whitman County and Pullman.

In a press release accompanying the paper, the authors also conclude:
"Should a community try to keep Wal-Mart out? Maybe that's not a good idea," she said. "In the first place, you're not likely to be successful in those efforts. And if you are, chances are Wal-Mart will go to a neighboring community and drain retail sales out of yours. And your local residents won't get the benefit of lower prices without driving far away."
Technorati Tags:

No comments: