By Larry Penner
Schools are open, but once again out-of-work, single-income, poor, working and middle class parents looking for reasonably priced clothing and educational supplies had to pay more for those things. This is thanks to elected officials who believe they know what is best for you. Polls of ordinary New Yorkers year after year (and now decade after decade) support the right of Walmart to open stores in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Residents in New York State’s 57 counties outside of New York City have been able to make their own decision about whether or not to shop at Walmart for decades. The same is true for virtually every other city and state. Only New York City is behind the times.
City residents continue to be denied the opportunity to shop at Walmart due to excuses made by politicians such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and most members of the City Council, along with numerous fellow liberal Democratic Party elected officials and their union allies. Many other Democratic state Assembly, state Senate and Congress members also oppose Walmart opening stores within their respective legislative districts, boroughs or any place in New York City. They think that we should oppose Walmart because of substandard salaries and the unfair competition they would provide against smaller stores.
Construction of a new Walmart can provide work for construction contractors and their employees. Once opened, there are employment opportunities for many workers. Over 10 percent of New Yorkers, including students, housewives, single heads of households, senior citizens and others currently out of work, along with the 7 percent who have given up looking, could find employment. The city would benefit by millions in sales, payroll and real-estate tax revenues, which could help fund essential municipal services everyone desires.
Walmart is the nation’s largest private sector employer with over 1,200,000 employees and growing each year. Tens of millions of Americans, including many New Yorkers, own stock in Walmart. The same is true for the various retirement and pension plans many people participate in. Starting pay averages several dollars above the minimum wage for new employees around the nation. Promotional opportunities including training for higher-paying managerial positions are common. They also offer health care and other benefits. Walmart may actually pay higher salaries and offer more benefits than some of their competitors such as Target, K-Mart, Costco and BJs, which are already here.
Several hundred thousand New Yorkers work off the books, full- and part-time with no benefits. Many existing retailers pay minimum wage with no benefits. These same public officials opposing Walmart never talk about these abuses.
The free enterprise system made our nation great. Economic growth and the creation of wealth comes from businesses—small and large. Consumers shopping at Walmart get a bigger bang for the buck by being able to compare prices, quality and service to other stores.
Many New Yorkers—poor, working class, middle class and seniors—can’t afford to pay extra. They need the great prices, good quality merchandise, affordable food, drugs and school supplies that Walmart offers.
Consumers have voted with their feet all over America, making Walmart the No. 1 retail merchant success story it is today. It is time to allow Walmart the opportunity to compete in the New York City marketplace as well!
The “politically correct” don’t have to shop at Walmart, but they should give everyone else the choice to do so.