The ‘compassionate Left’ vs. the poor

They are marching — stupid drums, chants, banners, and smug mugs abound — against a proposed Family Dollar store in Carrboro. The store is to be built in “one of the last predominantly minority areas in Carrboro.”

Now, that Family Dollar isn’t going to serve the marchers’ needs, and it certainly isn’t going to employ them. No, Family Dollar brings affordable goods and employment opportunities for poor people. Family Dollar isn’t government, so you know that’s bad.

Why, those poor people should really know their place, and it’s not in Carrboro, basically rubbing elbows with Chapel Hill. It’s in government offices collecting unemployment or otherwise on street corners in other towns serving as pity fodder for political campaigns for more government programs to serve their “needs” (not their needs to commerce with low-priced grocers and retailers, nor contract for employment with the sorts of businesses who hire poor people, nor live in mobile homes visible from the roads, nor in general discover self-sufficiency as so many generations of poor people in America have before them). Plus, Family Dollar “exploits” the poor; i.e., they earn a profit meeting their needs!

Say what you will, but leaving the poor in a ditch with their hands out hoping for crumbs from on high (i.e., government agencies, after filtering that money through the leeches and cronies who get their portions first from coerced taxpayer funding) isn’t exploiting them. There’s no exchange, no quid pro quo, no profit on both sides, there’s just disdainful bestowal of grace for which they better be thankful.

The cause of disdainful bestowal of government handouts is hurt by potential employers and falling prices on food and clothing, medicine, and electricity. Those challenges to government “compassion” must be opposed by today’s Left.

Not long ago, Wal-Mart planned to build a new store in Southeast Raleigh, which to a Carrboro sensibility is Where the Poor Things Are. Nevertheless, some Raleigh city planners opposed it, saying Wal-Mart wasn’t up to Raleigh’s standards. Then, suddenly, Wal-Mart called off the store, and the news media that had been reporting the horrors of a Wal-Mart in a poor area of town found itself reporting that the loss was “a big disappointment to people hungry for an economic boost in the area.” Turns out there would have been 400 new jobs there had the store been built.

One person interviewed had the audacity to say “We were looking at Wal-Mart as a hope.”

Who looks at Wal-Mart as hope? Icky poor people. That’s not how Wal-Mart or Family Dollar is viewed everywhere. I remember Roy Cordato’s anecdote a few years back:

A friend of mine who is an economics professor in a local university recently told me of a great encounter he recently had with some “Chapel Hill” liberals. He was at a dinner party and the conversation turned to Wal-Mart.

After a period of Wal-Mart bashing by the liberals they turned to my friend, who had chosen to remain silent during the conversation, and asked him, as a supporter of free markets, what he thought of Wal-Mart. His response was great.

I don’t have his exact words but he said that, like them, he was rich and really had no use for Wal-Mart. He told them how he hated going there and having to park his expensive car next to the inexpensive cars owned by all those lower class people who shop there. Furthermore he certainly didn’t like going into the store and having to associate with these people. He also told them that he’d much rather pay the higher prices that are charged at the local “mom and pop” stores that Wal-Mart puts out of business (part of their complaint against Wal-Mart) because these higher prices keep the lower classes away.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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