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Opinion: Columnists

D.C. politicos block Walmart, help special interests, hurt the poor

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Why, when there is no question that nothing has created more wealth and eradicated more poverty than capitalism, do left wing politicians hate it so much?

After all, it's supposed to be the left that cares about the poor.

The latest chapter in this ongoing saga of economic perversity is action being taken in Washington, D.C., to prevent Walmart from opening stores there.

The District's council has passed a bill, awaiting signature by the mayor, specifically targeted to block Walmart. It raises the District's minimum wage 50 percent to $12.50 per hour, but only for stores with more than $1 billion in sales and store size of more the 75,000 square feet.

Unionized stores in the District with these characteristics are exempt. In other words, the bill protects special interests and blocks who politicos don't want - Walmart.

Walmart promptly announced that if the mayor signs the bill into law, they will cancel plans to open three stores, each of which would create around 300 new jobs.

Walmart's "low prices every day" business strategy is one of the greatest success stories in American history.

Opening its first store in 1962, it has grown and grown and grown. Today Walmart has sales of almost a half trillion dollars, putting it number one on the Fortune 500 list.

According to the company, it now has over 10,000 stores around the world, employs 2.2 million people, and serves 200 million customers per week.

Is anyone forced to shop at Wal-Mart? Of course not. Is anyone forced to work at WalMart? Of course not.

This mind-boggling growth happened as result of freedom. Walmart's huge success is one hundred percent the result of delivering products that people freely choose to buy.

Critics of Walmart claim that the company doesn't pay enough. The company responds that its average pay is at or above the industry average.

But the real issue is, what is it the business of politicians what Walmart pays? Unlike government, that fines you or jails you if you don't do what lawmakers want, people work at Walmart because they choose to do so.

Walmart says it gets anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 applications for 300 to 400 job openings when it opens a store. That's more than 25 applicants per job.

Doesn't appear to me like Walmart has trouble convincing people to work there.

Washington, D.C., is more than 50 percent black. Its unemployment rate is above the national average. Its poverty rate is above the national average.

Yet Washington, D.C.'s politicians would rather have no new jobs at $12.50 per hour than 900 new jobs at $10.00 per hour.

Some claim that big discount stores like Walmart go into cities and displace small businesses. This is a claim. There is no definitive study that proves this claim.

But again, even if it were true, it would only be true because free people choose it to be so. What business is it of politicians to tell free people where to shop? What business is it of politicians to deprive people the freedom to go to a store that sells them products at the lowest prices they can find?

Low-income earners, the ones that supposedly the left wing politicos care about, happen to appreciate Walmart's low prices.

One thing I particularly appreciate about Walmart, where I certainly shop, is the greeters.

They are often disabled and other hard to employ individuals. Walmart gives them a chance to work.

Capitalism has been the great success it has because it rewards creativity and hard work.

Socialism has been a failure because it deprives freedom, stifles creativity, encourages envy and covetedness, and it rewards sloth and corruption.

American success is about the miracle of freedom. When freedom is displaced by political power, everyone suffers. In this case in Washington, D.C., where politicians are blocking Walmart, those who will suffer the most are the poor.

STAR PARKER, a Washington Examiner columnist is, an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. She can be reached at www.urbancure.org

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Star Parker

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The Washington Examiner