Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yawn... More on Costco

Two of the handful of fanatical Wal-Mart advocates in town have recently written that Costco would never come to Pullman because our per capita income is lower than places like Clarkston where the store has located. But anyone with basic economic understanding knows the per capita income for Pullman (and Moscow) is skewed downward by the presence of so many students whose actual spending power, thanks to parents, is far beyond what income would indicate.

The median income for folks 25 and over in Pullman is $50,416. That figure represents more than 9,000 people -- more than the entire population of Clarkston with its per capita income of $29,100. There is no reason why Costco and many other stores won't find this area attractive. Attempts to convince us that only Wal-Mart would be interested in Pullman are misleading and denigrate our considerable attractiveness as a community.

What Costco has proven definitively is that Wal-Mart's elitist model of low wages, meager, expensive benefits, and vicious anti-union activity is not necessary to big-box success. One local Wal-Mart booster traveled to Arkansas to get the "facts" about the corporation, and was apparently wowed to talk to big boss Lee Scott himself who told him what a wonderful company he runs.

As any competent journalist or researcher for government, business or academia knows, you never take at face value the self-reporting of the research subject. Digging for the facts beneath Wal-Mart's claims and comparing them to rival Costco reveals a clear, objective contrast. Costco has twice as many employees enjoying health benefits, and the company pays for 90 percent of those benefits as opposed to 60 percent for Wal-Mart. Starting salaries at Costco average $3-$6 per hour higher than at Wal-Mart. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart has twice the employee turnover rate of Costco.

These differences belie Wal-Mart's claims, and prove their elitist model, where wealth supposedly trickles down from the Waltons (five of America's 10 richest individuals), can be replaced by one where workers are paid fairly and let their money trickle up into the economy.

T.V. Reed, Pullman

I am getting tired of listening to the "Costco would work here" debate. It is a 100% MOOT POINT!!! If Costco wanted to build here they would have, Writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper does not make Costco closer to being a reality. Personally I would love to see Costco, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, JCPenny's, and many other stores come to Pullman. I don't think people are anti-Costco, like Mr. Reed is anti-Wal-Mart, we are just being realistic.

For the sake of argument, lets say Costco would work here, then what? Do you have the money necessary to build one? To buy the land? To fight the SEPA reports, and PARD, and the everyone else who is anti-growth in Pullman?

Bottom line is Costco does not want to be here or they would have already built, or looked into it. Yes I am surprised they are in Clarkston, but they are close to Lewiston and many other nearby communities of people who make the trip to Costco there -- Communities like Pullman, Moscow, Colfax, Lapwai, and more.

The real situation at hand here is that fact that we do have a business that wants to be here. They have every right to use their land as they want to, and a bunch of people who are using the court system to hold up development SOLELY BASED ON PERSONAL HATRED.


WSUStretch said...

If TV is really concerned, why doesn't use his time more productively to work with the city economic development folks to put together a package that would entice Costco to build here in Pullman? We have enough land zoned for a development that size even AFTER the WalMart is built...

April E. Coggins said...

A handful??! That's funny.