- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Wal-Mart and top D.C. officials shared the mayor’s podium Wednesday to announce that instead of building four stores in the city, the retail giant now is hoping to plant a sustainable economic development footprint with six stores.

An early Merry Christmas to D.C. — or so you would think.

But instead of bowing to the eye-opening ghost of Christmas past, the anti-Wal-Mart, NIMBY and liberal souls of the District continue to kowtow to the ghost of Saul Alinsky, who birthed the modern-day community organizer movement.

The common-good strategy of these malcontents — and indeed their counterparts across the nation — is to force Wal-Mart into signing a community-benefits agreement that would dictate wage, hour and benefits packages, outline residency requirements and establish pro-environmental goals, among other things.

Critics also complain that big-box retailers drive out local and small businesses once their doors open.

D.C. officials shouldn’t even expect Wal-Mart to sign a deal like that.

But, hey, this is D.C., where all elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, wear various shades of blue.

D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, who is up for re-election, spoke at the news conference Wednesday and carefully played her hand.

After acknowledging union members in attendance, she said, “Competition is very healthy.”

While Ron Moten, a Democrat turned Republican and one of Ms. Alexander’s chief opponents in the Ward 7 race, told me afterward that “competition is great, but it needs to be fair.”

“They need to think about what happens when you run a small business and get pushed out,” he said.

The role of government is to neither shore up nor push out businesses, large or small.

The government’s role is to move out of the way so companies can compete.

It’s not the government’s business to establish, for instance, a level playing field for Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse.

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