Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Wal-Mart, labor unions and the republic"

Ed Iverson, the bête noire of local liberals, has recently stirred up firestorms over global warming and religion. So, it only seems logical that he would now invoke the "WM-word" in his column that appeared in last Saturday's Daily News:
The City Council of San Diego recently voted to uphold its earlier ban of Wal-Mart Supercenters.

The ordinance was tailored so carefully as to leave no doubt that it was expressly aimed at the nation's No. 1 retailer. One of the council members who voted with the majority complained that it would be irresponsible to let the free market decide issues such as this.

Refusing to allow her constituency the opportunity to shop for cheaper groceries, the councilwoman voted with the majority (5-3). She justified her vote by observing that she was "no economist." In effect, she admitted that her vote had no economic justification. Well, she did more that admit it. One might say that she was pretty defiant about it. She went on to establish her bona-fides as "formerly poor." Now, everyone knows that one sure way to rise in today's political world is to be raised poor. Ask John Edwards about his plan for withdrawing from Iraq. You are likely to get a heart-rending description of his poverty-stricken youth.

So the council member made it clear that she was raised poor. She was quick to admit that her poor family would have undoubtedly shopped Wal-Mart for its very attractive grocery prices. But she went on to remark that sometimes we all need to take a hit for the greater good of the community. In effect, she argued what she was doing was the right thing. The wallets of her low-income constituents were of little consequence. Refusing Wal-Mart entrance to her community was a higher priority.

For the present, I want to ignore the likelihood that her vote was bought by labor union interests. This is a little hard to do because it is widely understood that the national anti-Wal-Mart campaign is principally financed by organized labor. Organized opposition to Wal-Mart in my own community appears to be financially dependent upon the shills for organized labor.

In the case of San Diego, it is almost certain that Big Labor sponsors the Wal-Mart bashers. Several years ago the unions launched one of the most punishing labor strikes in history against large supermarkets such as Safeway. The San Diego legislation against big-box stores specifically targets stores that "derive more than 10 percent of their sales from groceries." Add together those two pieces of information and the conclusion is inescapable. San Diego is not against large retailers. The San Diego City Council is against large retailers that refuse to bend over for big labor. The fight is not over some kind of quaint community life. It is not about driving mom-and-pop stores out of business. The "Wal-Mart War" is a last stand of Big Labor in the attack on free markets.

But suppose that such is not the case for the council member who styles herself as formerly poor? Consider for a moment the possibility that she is genuinely convinced that she is doing the honorable thing even though her vote had adverse consequences for her constituents. In that case, may her tribe increase. All politicos should be so principled. Instead, we get government by public opinion poll.

The United States is not a democracy. We were established as a constitutional republic. Congress was intended to comprise men of principle. As citizens, we were to elect men of sound character, who would consider all sides of an issue and do what was right, even if it was not popular at the moment.

Instead of principled representatives, we get a bunch of fops, holding their fingers in the wind, sniffing the odor of popular opinion, and saving their tail-feathers in the next election.

Why don't we all just vote on everything by interactive screen? That would save ourselves all the money we spend to support the leeches in D.C.
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