Steven Ly, Mall Rat

Wal-Mart sock puppet Steven Ly came to city council last night, and informed us that, based on his long hours at Wal-Mart, on all days and at all times of the day, it was clear that Wal-Mart should be permitted to "extend its hours."


No doubt he perceives the 24-hour operation as a "compromise," and part of the process of "healing" the city.


Why don't we just move city council meetings to Walnut Grove and Rush and make their purchase of our city council official?


He and the other sock puppets also celebrated their "grassroots" victory of last week.


Most grassroots groups don't have $340,000 to spend during the last six weeks of a campaign.  And they don't usually need to pay people to walk precincts, make phone calls, or do poll checks on election day.  But pesky little things like reality haven't played much of a role in the things they've been saying the past two years, have they?

No grassroots groups have $340,000 EOM

They should be called an "astroturf" group. Fake grass.


Actually I've visited the store and am quite pleased with its selections and prices.
The parking lot lights are on during the day though!

It's not about the prices

[This post has footnotes, *1, *2, etc.  That's just to clarify certain statements, since it was brought to my attention at the last city council meeting that some of my readers don't always understand the metaphors and references I make in my posts.] 

[Actually, I know full well that at least some of the readers understand the metaphors. But they take mock offense at some of the terms used so they can avoid addressing the substance of the criticisms].

[And, yes, I know I'm being a jerk.  But, hey:  We just lost an election, so I'm giving myself some extra leeway].


Again, the dispute is not whether or not Wal-Mart's prices are low.  They are.  The dispute was two-fold.  1)  How are those low prices delivered? and; 2) Is this the right location for a 24-hour supercenter?


For number (1), of course you can take a look at places like  I think it's safe to say that Wal-Mart achieves its low prices by depressing wages worldwide and exploiting its power as the world's largest retailer.  There's nothing illegal about that, but it is a shame.  Rather than using their leverage to "raise all boats," they're using their power to bring a low tide that encircles the globe.*1


For number (2), you only need to look around the Wal-Mart store and see what's NOT there--not a single other retail outlet is within eyesight.  To coin a phrase, "This is NOT the right place."*2


I'm also getting pretty fed up with that stupid light on Rush Street.  It should only turn green if there are actually cars waiting to come out of the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Instead, it changes before any cars even get to the end of the driveway, and it stays green for Wal-Mart long after the last car has left.  They're wasting the time, gasoline, and money of dozens (perhaps hundreds) of commuters every day.


*1 This is a metaphor.  I know that some Wal-Mart supporters (including some of those on city council) either do not understand or intentionally choose to not understand a metaphor when they hear one.  This metaphor builds on the common saying that "A rising tide raises all ships."  I think President Kennedy was fond of this one, but I'm sure he was not the first to say it.


Wal-Mart could use its purchasing power to encourage a greener environment and/or a more generously-compensated workforce (both here and around the world.).*3  Instead, it is leading the "race to the bottom."*4  It continues to focus on driving its own costs down by any means necessary.*5  For example, Wal-Mart management has advocated creating job descriptions that make it harder for the older, less healthy (and, thus, more costly to insure) workers to perform, with the hope that they will quit.  For more information, read this:


And, incidentally, "race to the bottom" is another metaphor.  Gary, if you're not sure what this means, you may ask me at the next council meeting.  Or you can look it up on  Or, you can "READ A BOOK."*6


*2  This is a play on the words attributed to Mormon prophet, Brigham Young, when he first set eyes on the Salt Lake Valley.


*3  This is a play on the words of President Kennedy's inugural address.  I think the writing in that speech just soars.  Great cadence, great imagery and full of optimism.


*4  "Race to the bottom" is a term commonly used by ecologists, but also well-known among economists.  It's the belief that if there were not a "bottom line" when it came to environmental or labor regulations, states, counties, cities, and even countries would have an incentive to offer regulations slightly less stringent than their neighbors.  This would, in theory, bring more jobs to one place at the expense of its neighbors.  The problem is that, after many iterations, with each neighboring community relaxing their regulations a bit further than their neighbors, the end result would be a world with practically no environmental or labor protections at all.


*5  "By any means necessary" is supposed to evoke the imagery of Malcolm X.  And no, Gary, the "X" does not represent the number 10.


*6  "READ A BOOK" is a quote from "Handy," a puppet that appeared in "The Tick v. Arthur's Bank Account," an episode of a short-lived animated series (not to be confused with the short-lived live-action series of the same name).  Handy expressed repeated annoyance when his literary references (e.g., "sulking, like Achilles in his tent") were not recognized by his fellow evil-doers.  It's also a reference to the events detailed in this post:

This is definitely not about low prices

It's really a shame that you can not see beyond the "low prices" what Walmart has just done to your community.