While the idea of Wal-Mart opening stores in the District has a lot of people excited, some small businesses and some city residents have been have been worried about Wal-Mart coming to town. The small businesses are concerned that the mega-billion dollar retailer is a threat to mom-and-pop stores and some residents point out that Wal-Mart is famously stingy with wages.
The way I see it, that is what you call capitalism. And mind you, I have nothing against capitalism but I also believe in socialism and the two do come together. You can be a sole proprietor of a business/ idea and capitalize off of it but you need people- socialism- to do it. Sometimes people forget that for some reason or they just don’t understand the word.
But one thing should be clear. If D.C. councilmembers had done what Mayor Daley did in the city of
Chicago, the District wouldn’t be going back and forth with Wal-Mart about the wage issues.
When I was a little girl growing up in Chicago in the 1960s, private developers wanted to tear
down the Cabrini-Green public housing project because it was occupying prime real estate on the
city’s gold coast. I remember the late Mayor Daley asked these private developers what would
happen to all of the families who would be left with no place to live if they tore down Cabrini-Green.
The private developers responded that it wasn’t their problem what happened to the families. So
Daley said simply, “No, you can’t tear down Cabrini-Green”.
Years went by and the work of fixing up other neighborhoods progressed; lake- front properties and
Northwest, Westside and part of the South Side. But the pri- vate developers still had that prime
property where Cabrini-Green was sitting on their minds. Finally, the private developers approached ex-Mayor Daley again, but with more respect this time. The private developers made an agreement with the city officials stating that the developers would be responsible for the families of Cabrini-Green, allowing them to have apartments either in their buildings or somewhere else that was affordable.
The D.C. City Council and Mayor Vincent Gray should have written up a con- tract with Wal-Mart
before going through all the construction sites and getting ev- eryone in the city excited about
having a Wal-Mart stores in different wards. Trust and believe me: Wal-Mart believes in the Christian faith, but the company believes in money even more. The company executives make sure to
pay the workers as little as possible, knowing that otherwise, they themselves will be out of a job.
I agree with D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson’s point that $26,000 a year isn’t going to break
Wal-Mart’s bank by any means. In fact, even $12.50 isn’t enough for an individual to obtain or keep
a roof over her head, let alone to pay for food and transportation, not only in Wash- ington, D.C.
but in many other places in our nation.
Wal-Mart has already spent a fortune planning for stores in different wards of the city. If Wal-Mart were to pull out of the District, it would be a financial fiasco for the company.But the city has options. Shoot, we could build more Target stores in those wards and simply say to Wal-Mart “see ya and good riddance”.
So, to all you city councilmen and women of D.C.: don’t back down.