Thursday, December 02, 2010

Peyser Erupts for Wal-Mart

Andrea Peyser joins the chorus of Wal-Mart cheer leaders today in the NY Post-and attacks opponents with unusually misinformed vigor: "Peeved that it can't stop giant retailer Walmart from entering the city -- bringing sorely needed jobs and inexpensive tube socks -- the City Council is throwing a hissy fit. It's declared Dec. 14 "Hate Wal-Mart Day."

Peyser's fawning lip-syncing from the Wal-Mart libretto-as if the Walmonster was a net job creator, which it isn't-mischaracterizes the city council's Wal-Mart examination day as devolving from a frustrated pique that the legislature feels because of its lack of success in keeping NYC Wal-Mart-free. Earth to Peyser: There are no Wal-Marts in NYC, having been stymied, here and here.

Wal-Mart's supposed benefits to the NY economy will be front and center at the expanded city council hearing on the 14th-and those who think that the Walmonster is an unadulterated good thing for this town will be in for a rude awakening-and it's about time that a big box development is being examined for the collateral damage that it causes.

In this sense, Wal-Mart is a symbol of the misguided economic development policies of the mayor-policies that have been uncritically accepted because all of the impact analysis has come from consultants who make Pinocchio look like the real boy that he isn't. In the past nine years, with Gateway in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Willets Point and Flushing Commons in Queens-and how could we forget the Kingsbridge Armory project-the potential negative impacts have all been swept under the rug by a fierce claque of Bloomberg toadies-in both the real estate community as well as in the media.

All of the sycophants from these quarters have cheered their lungs out for "jobs, jobs, jobs," without once examining, not only the jobs that are lost through displacement, but the quality of those jobs that were supposedly being created.

Peyser places herself firmly in the toady category by citing the wisdom of Wal-Mart's own resident genius: "With too many city residents out of work and living without access to healthy food, we don't entirely understand the desire to spend time and resources on a Walmart-specific hearing," director of community affairs Steven Restivo told Crain's."

The fact is that Wal-Mart destroys more jobs than it creates. At the same time it also siphons off local dollars that other retailers circulate in the city's economy. In East New York where Wal-Mart looks to open its first city supercenter, there are perhaps two dozen independent supermarket operators-and many will be forced to close if Wal-Mart opens. Each of these store owners buys almost of their meat and produce from local suppliers. Their lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and other contractors are all local-which is why Stacy Mitchell labels all of this mega-retail as the, "Big Box Swindle."

Peyser thinks all of this concern is a waste of time and money: "Squandering time and resources in a recession is a drain on the city. But waste is what the council knows best." But the real drain-the giant sucking sound in this case-would be all of the money that will be fed-exed all the way down to Bentonville, Arkansas if Wal-Mart gets its tentacles into the NYC economy.