DC City Council Shake Down of Walmart Epic Fails



Yesterday, I marvelled at the chutzpah of the Washington, DC City Council's effort to shake down retailers like Walmart by boosting the city's minimum wage by nearly 50 percent just for them. As I opined:

The economic ignorance of the city mothers and fathers of Washington, DC never ceases to flabbergast me. Years ago, the city's solons decided that not enough people were choosing to work at house-cleaning and other domestic chores, so they sought to solve this "shortage" by voting to boost the minimum wage for such work. Surely, increasing the price of an activity will increase the demand for it.

In another boneheaded move, the city council voted earlier this year for legislation, the Large Retailer Accountabliity Act, that would hike the minimum wage for workers at "big box" stores to $12.50 per hour. This is a big increase over the city's $8.25 minimum wage. Evidently the city council believes that this is the way to entice retailers like Walmart, Target, and Wegmans to open businesses in the city.

Now Walmart has told the city council members that if they persist with this ill-advised scheme, the company will simply take its business elsewhere. In an op/ed in the Washington Post today, regional manager Alex Barron writes:

In November 2010, Wal-Mart announced a plan to bring more jobs, shopping options and fresh food choices to Washington residents. Just 12 months later, we increased our investment — from four stores to six and from 1,200 jobs to 1,800 — in an effort to expand access and opportunity to more underserved communities in the city.

Sounds really good. However, City council member Vincent Orange was quoted yesterday in the Post as saying, "We don't have to beg people to come to the District anymore." Well maybe they do after all. Barron's op/ed continues:

Like any business, we have a responsibility to our customers, employees and shareholders to reevaluate our options when it looks as if local rules may significantly change. The LRAA would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that would create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.

As a result, Wal-Mart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway or New York Avenue if the LRAA is passed. What's more, passage would also jeopardize the three stores already under construction, as we would thoroughly review the financial and legal implications of the bill on those projects.

This was a difficult decision and one we arrived at after considerable contemplation.

What does Orange say now? From today's Post:

Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a backer of the bill, said the announcement revealed its "true character."

"For them to now stick guns to council members' heads is unfortunate and regrettable," he said.

Who is sticking what gun to whose head? In this case, it is Orange who has revealed his true character as an economically ignorant demagogue. Let's hope that DC's voters will hold Orange and the other seven council members accountable for the loss of jobs, convenience, and affordable shopping.

See below Reason TV's "The War on Walmart: Who's Afraid of Cheap Groceries?"

NEXT: Ill. Governor Suspends Lawmakers' Pay over Public Pension Crisis

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. SO…

    Just to understand the progtard logic:

    Threatening people with jail if they don’t pay more for something they are purchasing != holding a gun to someone’s head.

    Walking away from a bad deal == holding a gun to someone’s head.


    1. In the progressiverse, Queen Carlotta has proclaimed every day as Backwards Day.

      1. Hey morons, you got your clothes on backwards!

    2. Just another example why anarchism is so superior to democracy.

    3. It’s just another manifestation of the projection of TEAM BLUE. They project what they themselves are doing onto whoever isn’t cooperating.

      They engage in projection with everything.

      1. Amen. It’s impossible for me to agree with this enough.

    4. The D.C. council has actual guns to actually point at Wal*Mart.

    5. I was watching Melissa Francis and she asked the guy, “maybe you should ask the people that are unemployed if they would rather have a job, or not.

      That is “progtard” logic. They “represent” people who don’t necessarily want to be represented by them.

      OF COURSE, it’s all union bullshit. Any increase in the minimum wage would justify an increase in union wages, and an increase in union dues, and an increase for union bosses.

  2. “Let’s hope that DC’s voters will hold Orange and the other seven council members accountable for the loss of jobs, convenience, and affordable shopping.”


    Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

    1. That’s what jumped out at me. I laughed, and then I shed a single tear.

      1. Ain’t democracy just grand?

    2. “The Audacity of Hope”?

    3. But don’t forget, those voters deserve two U.S. senators and one or two representatives, so they can vote to impose the same kind of economically illiterate crap on the rest of us (and so Wal Mart won’t have the option of just building its stores elsewhere).

    4. Butbutbut that would mean that they might have to vote for a (gasp) REPUBLICAN, and you know that’s not happening.

  3. “For them to now stick guns to council members’ heads is unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.

    Herr Mayor seems to be a tad confused on who has the guns.

    Money talks. Bullshit walks. You’d think a slimy pol of his level would have learned that lesson by now.

    1. JW: Orange is not the mayor. The actual mayor may veto this stupidity.

      1. You are correct, Ron. Stupid Vincents [insert color here].

    2. Oh Vincent Orange knows that money talks. He’s neck deep in a bribery/campaign finance scandal over a land development deal. He’ll likely be pleading guilty within the year, which would make him the fourth DC council member to plead guilty to a felony in the last two years.

  4. “For them to now stick guns to council members’ heads is unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.

    That’s the most offensive shit I’ve read in quite a while. This asshole probably believes it too.


  5. “”For them to now stick guns to council members’ heads is unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.”

    That lying sack of shit.

    1. How about his demoprogtard logic?

    2. Is it time to chixculub the District of Columbia?

      1. Whoever thought up home rule for DC needs to be bitchslapped.


    I love it. Fuck you, DC Council.

    1. Is there any doubt that, if a modest-sized asteroid were to utterly annihilate that fetid swamp, the rest of the country would be better off?

      1. On balance, yes. Although I would miss the museums.

        1. I think some of them are overrated. I recently went to the National Zoo for the first time; for a “national” zoo it was pretty lame.

          1. Haven’t been to the zoo. But Air & Space; Natural History; National Archives.

            1. —“But Air & Space; Natural History; National Archives.”—

              I was there on vacation in May. For me, the coolest thing was the little sliver of Moon rock at Air & Space that they allowed you to touch (as opposed to most museum exhibits).

              I got to touch the Moon. Blew me away.

              1. I’m always shocked that people actually choose to come here on their precious time off.

      2. As I said on the day the NSA story first broke, I wouldn’t even be pissed off anymore if North Korea nuked DC.

      3. I hate the District of Columbia. The last several times I have been there have been miserable experiences. I try not to go there anymore. Fuck that place and all of the people who live in it.

  7. DC City Council Shake Down of Walmart Epic Fails

    I’ve never seen “epic” used as an adverb before.

    1. You’re new to the internet, aren’t you? 🙂

      1. But not to breakfast.

    2. I was like, what is a “Walmart Epic”?

      1. “How the West Was Retailed”

        “The Ten Daily Specials”

        “Sam and Cleopatra”

        1. “Blue Light Special”

  8. A nation… any nation is doomed when people creating wealth and jobs are called “part of the problem”.

    1. The Wal-Market doesn’t create wealth — it extracts it from the labour of the proletariat.

      Now, if her workers were unionized, in One Big Union…

      1. Actually, with Walmart employees in a single state accounting for $67 million worth of welfare benefits, ($900k per store) it would seem that they manage to extract a decent amount of wealth from taxpayers.

        Forgive the sin of quoting numbers from a left-leaning magazine, but for some reason the libertarian corners of the internet don’t seem to have noticed this piece of information yet:…..-taxpayers

        I consider it relevant here because the availability of these benefits creates artificial downward pressure on demand for wages. (It functions as a subsidy for low wage labor, in effect.) This directly subsidizes the employees while indirectly subsidizing the company in the form of lower labor costs, along with the consumers who get cheaper products than they would get from a company that passed its labor costs along in the form of prices rather than taxes on people who may or may not be customers.

        Crony corporatism at its finest.

        1. There is no sin in quoting from a “left-leaning magazine” if the same factually or logically supports a proposition-even if the proposition is preposterous.

          Is Wal-Mart obligated to subsidize the health care expenses of its employees? Does it promise to do so by way of an incontrovertible provision in its written employment agreements? Does it advertise that it provides health insurance to all of its employees?

          Are Wal-Mart employees prohibited from seeking more lucrative positions with other companies?

          Are Wal-Mart employees prohibited from opening their own businesses? In the cases where former Wal-Mart employees become entrepreneurs, must they finance the entirety of the health care expenses of their employees?

          Have you forgotten that the very same Wal-Mart employees about whom you write have a portion of their paycheck confiscated by the state so that it can do as it pleases with the money?

          Crony capitalism is not an employer paying wages below its competitors.

          Crony capitalism is Al Gore praying for carbon tax credit legislation so his carbon credit exchange / trading interests can reap windfall profits.

        2. “Crony corporatism at its finest.”

          That only makes sense if Wal-Mart is actively lobbying for those benefits. Otherwise you are blaming the someone for a fact of the economic environment they exist in. Also, are you for getting rid of these benefits? Because that would eliminate what you are labeling cronyism.

        3. I’m not sure why you replied to *me* with that comment, but I don’t happen to disagree with your sentiments, even if I take issue with your choice of vocabulary…

          This certainly isn’t a case of crony corporatism because Wal-Mart, while benefiting, does not contribute to the *causes* of these policies in any substantial way. Without Wal-Mart, welfare would be as pernicious as ever.

          I am actually agnostic about how much Wal-Mart benefits, but only because counterfactuals are tricky and supply/demand curves have all kinds of shapes.

        4. “Crony corporatism at its finest.”

          Gee, I was gonna beat on Slothrop for his lies, obfuscations and general mendacity, but I see it would be piling on at this point.
          I also see that Slothrop hasn’t bothered to defend the obviously false claims.

        5. By your logic, every place where a Walmart employee shops is extracting wealth from the taxpayer. Interesting that all these businesses are engaging in crony capitalism without even trying. If you buy into that reasoning, then this “extraction” is the dumb fault of the taxpayer for handing out those benefits to begin with. The easy solution is to abolish the welfare benefits.

      2. I presume this is sarcasm, but just in case it’s not…

        Wal-Mart creates wealth in the same way any other service does, by reducing the cost in hours of the lives of its customers to acquire the goods they are looking for by locating them in one convenient spot, or specializing in providing them, or both.

  9. Who is sticking what gun to whose head?

    Hitler thought he was defending innocent Germans from the unscrupulous nature of the jews.

    All wars are defensive.

    1. You know who else thought he was defending innocent Germans from th…wait.

      Never mind.

    2. Hitler was forced to invade because the Poles were persecuting Germans living in the contested regions.

      The Japanese had to attack the US because it was threatening their access to vital natural resources.

      The US had to invade Mexico because they were being mean to the Texans.

      As you said, all wars are defensive, although in hindsight they may seem like plain and simple land grabs…

      1. In partial defense of many vicious people throughout history, personhood was usually defined by ethnicity, nationality, culture, religion, etc., leading to (on those terms) morally innocent wars of aggression without any defensive justification or casus belli proffered.

        1. The Traveler was defending its parallel dimension from a potentially devastating attack by four guys with unlicensed nuclear accelerators on their backs.

      2. Uh, the Texas one is…not quite right.

        1. Cool, help me out here.

          As I understand it Polk really wanted to expand the US across the southwest to the sea. He annexed Texas, which pissed off the Mexicans, who then refused to sell him California. He sent troops into a hotly contested border area and when the Mexican torpedo boats attacked the USS Maddox, erh, sorry, killed 11 US troops, war was declared.

          At the end of the very lopsided conflict, the US took what is now New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California. An area roughly the size of Western Europe.

          What’d I miss? Oh, besides allowing Texas in as a slave state…

          1. That’s pretty much it. I am not particularly enamored of the way my home became part of the US. But, I love the place all the same.

            1. I have nothing against Texas, hell, I married one of yer wimmenfolk, but the Mexicans were legitimately irritated that people would immigrate into their country and then blithely ignore the laws.

              Luckily, we live in more enlightened times where we no longer have to deal with such situations.

          2. As I understand it Polk really wanted to expand the US across the southwest to the sea. He annexed Texas…

            Wait, he did what?

            1. Sorry, I’m unclear about the technical details, but I gather the US and the Republic of Texas did some annexation/joint resolution thing in 1844 while Polk was president-elect, then he signed the statehood papers in 1845.

    1. (I mean, for the council. But unless Gray has some sort of graft going with Walmart and the developers – which wouldn’t surprise me – I don’t know if he would veto)

    2. From the story:

      Council member Mary Cheh said during Wednesday’s hearing that she wanted Walmart to know “I don’t like being threatened,” but said she would vote against the bill.

      So more than one council member completely misunderstands who initiated the threat.

      1. And worse, she considering voting for a bill she admits is bad policy out of spite.

        1. Ahhh, using a public office to settle private scores. Makes me wanna puke.

      2. WalMart didn’t threaten anything. They did publicize the economic consequences of proposed legislation. That isn’t a threat. WalMart isn’t going to cancel projects to hurt DC; they’re going to it because DC has created a hostile business environment for WalMart in particular.

        DC councilpersons seem to have difficulty with words.

        1. OTOH, Mary would have no difficulty telling her maid to get stuffed and replacing her if she decided to raise her hourly rate to $600. Of course, she’d probably accuse her maid of “threatening her” also. Victims, aren’t we all?

        2. In her defense, Inglish am hard to understand.

      3. “We decline your generous offer of increasing our costs. Now, please do us the courtesy of fucking off.”

        I really, really, really hope Wal-Mart pulls up stakes. It would suck for the residents, but they need to start seeing and feeling real world consequences of their political choices. Hell, maybe they’ll even learn a lesson here.

        I’m done feeling sorry for the status-quoers. You created this flaming turd of a situation. Deal with it.

        1. Indeed. Stupidity, especially economic stupidity, should be painful.

    3. I really don’t see what the problem is. The Great Satan that is Walmart has been rejected and now all those virtuous mom-n-pop stores can thrive and create an urban utopia.

      Granted, they won’t hire as many people, be as convenient or sell their goods as cheaply, but isn’t this what the progs want?

      1. The DC demagogues are crusading against mom-and-pop stores as well, often in terms that would be denounced as racist if we little people ever dared to use them. There is just no winning, so no one should be surprised that many businesses just refuse to play.

        1. So, what’s their plan? Everyone lives on Soylent Green?

          1. Their plan is to maintain their power and to keep getting support from sheeple who evidently have no conception of cause and effect. The sheeple will continue to go to the suburbs to shop, even if that means a taxi ride that they can’t really afford, and will blame racist business owners and market failure. Once, I had a conversation that went about like this:

            “I won’t go to those corner stores because the right people don’t run them.”

            “So what stops the right people from opening them?”


            1. They have no conception of cause and effect in part because the DC school system is a complete shit storm.

      2. I revel in Schadenfreude when contemplating all of the prog-promoted and prog-patronized businesses also harmed by the exclusion of Wal-Mart.

        Just keep financially flagellating yourself, and you will be healed!

  10. Walmart’s telling you eat shit and fuck off, Orange. Get a clue.

    I wonder if these progressive retards understand that Walmart’s cancellation of the project is a really bad, bad thing for the District. Do they honestly not give a shit about the residents they represent even on such basic level?

    1. No they don’t give a shit. And they hate WalMart. But the residents don’t give a shit either. Look at what they did to Michele Rhee. The situation there is utterly hopeless.

  11. There are actually much more complicated politics at play here. I kind of doubt that Walmart really cares that much about the living wage bill because it planned to pay roughly this wage anyway.

    Walmart is proposing 6 stores in the district. It initially wanted fewer, and in different locations. It agreed to open 3 in low income areas, including one right by the Mayor’s house that he really really wanted, in order to get political backing to get through zoning, regulatory, etc. hurdles. It’s now far into construction on the 3 others (i.e. the ones in nice areas), but hasn’t started any of the 3 in the poor areas. The living wage bill now gives Walmart an excellent excuse to cancel the 3 in the poor areas, which were likely going to be money losers/low margin, blame it on the Mayor and DC council, and open the profitable stores in the nice areas now they’ve already gotten the political help they needed.

    1. which were likely going to be money losers/low margin

      Unless the 3 are too many for the area, I call bullshit. A Walmart in a poor area that pretty much lacks any decent shopping is going to pull in just as much money as one in a rich area.

      1. The fact that Walmart didn’t want to build in those areas until it became politically necessary tells me they wouldn’t be very profitable. And these are seriously for-crap areas. They would constantly be getting stolen from.

        1. Yep.

          But it’s the 3 other “good” stores that would effectively be subsidizing the 3 “shitty” stores. The 6 stores as a whole would be profitable even if 3 of them are money losers.

          As soon as you lessen the value of the 3 “good” stores, you make the 6 stores as a whole money losers.

          You can say it’s an excuse by WalMart, but if the DC council would have just shut the fuck up and been happy with the extortion they already got there would be no “excuse”.

          1. I’m not defending the council, just pointing out that walmart is politically savvy and will be using this development to its advantage. No doubt it prioritized the three good stores for this exact reason.

            1. You are assigning to political savvy what should be assigned to accountants.

              IF WalMart had any political savvy, they would have waited until the DC council PAID THEM to open ANY stores in their fair shitty. And then they could have spent a few thousand of those dollars for express bus service to and from the shitty neighborhoods on the 1st and the 15th.

              1. “Fare shitty”. FIFY. 😉

                There’s no “fair” (in the sense of beauty) in DC, but there’s an awful lot of “fare” (in the sense of costs to get anything done).

        2. The fact that Walmart didn’t want to build in those areas until it became politically necessary tells me they wouldn’t be very profitable.

          Yeah, good point. But I have seen such situations in the past, where the superstore in the shitty neighborhood nobody thought would succeed goes on to become the biggest money-maker in the area. But of course each case is different.

          1. I haven’t done the market research, but I’m pretty sure Walmart did. Any their track record shows that they are pretty darn good at figuring out where to put stores.

  12. But the residents don’t give a shit either.

    I wouldn’t go that far. Many of them certainly DO give a shit but feel powerless to change anything because the political machine will steamroller right over any opposition.

  13. I have a friend who is constantly posting anti-Walmart stuff on his Facebook page. He even has been leading a campaign against having a WalMart in midtown Miami, because… something about small stores, and Walmart sucks, and the community doesn’t want it. Somehow a “If the community doesn’t want it, what do you care if it opens, because it will surely fail quickly” argument hasn’t worked.

    1. Somehow a “If the community doesn’t want it, what do you care if it opens, because it will surely fail quickly” argument hasn’t worked.

      Of course not. Huge corporations have the power to dictate their terms to us. All right-thinking people know that.

      1. It’s because huge corporations control the Hypnotoad.

      2. “Of course not. Huge corporations have the power to dictate their terms to us. All right-thinking people know that.”

        See the idiot Orange above; They can hold a gun to your head! Or, maybe ask you to buy things.
        One or the other…

        1. Strangely enough, the federal government just decided it *CAN* order us to buy things.

    2. Having grown up in a smallish town where you often couldn’t find some item you wanted or needed, I find the anti-big box store mentality very strange.

      And mom-n-pop stores that specialize will always survive against Walmart. You don’t buy performance auto parts at Walmart.

      1. This. I go to big box stores for mass consumer items; I go to the little stores for unique items and personal service, and just for the ambiance. It seems like a win-win to me.

      2. I find the anti-big box store mentality very strange

        I have found that the only people who hold this opinion are those who are totally unaffected by the outcome.

        1. Please, explain this outcome.

          1. They have money, as such they don’t mind paying substantially more for mass consumer products and are incapable of understanding why everyone else doesn’t buy their arguments. Particularly the poor people they believe the big box/mass retailers “victimize.”

            So, there are two possibles outcomes for those types; they travel 50-60 miles to the Costco/Sam’s Club to buy their cheap consumables, happy as clams that they don’t have to an ugly box building and huge parking lot in their quaint little village, completely oblivious to the fact that there are some people who can’t afford to spend the several hundred to thousand dollars per once a month trip to buy stuff, or the gasoline for more frequent trips to the next town over for groceries. Or, they can pay 3-4 times the price for equivalent products from the “acceptable” outlets and (ironically) blame the fact that others can’t afford it on a “market failure.”

  14. Taxers gonna tax.

  15. What makes this bill truly galling are the exemptions carved out for unionized grocery stores and the city government, and the four-year delay in enforcement for retailers already doing business in D.C. (read: not Wal-Mart).

    WallyWorld should tell this aspiring mayor to go find a rusty pipe and fuck himself with it.

  16. The script says that “Walmart is the Villain”.

    If Walmart acts rationally and pulls out, then Walmart is denying people jobs at “a living wage.” [What does a DC Councillor get, BTW?]

    If Walmart goes ahead and builds the stores, it is “destroying neighborhoods.”

    If Walmart put a million dollars in the pocket of every DC resident, these same idiots would demonize Walmart for “subverting DC lifestyle” or some such nonsense.

    Councillor Orange are going to make Walmart the villain no matter what.

    1. No doubt. The proglodytes always need a villain, especially one like WalMart.

      When the Garfinkle’s store on F Street in DC closed down in the 90’s, it was left vacant for 6 years, because of a progtard group who was using the DC regs to delay any company opening there. They were insisting that a department store and *only* a department stre, re-open there.

      They eventually lost and a Borders finally went in, which closed last year.

      I wonder how long it will be empty this time?

      1. Forever.

  17. Lots of people claim Walmart hurts towns but I know one town that was dying with almost no stores Yreka Ca. Once Walmart came in the town started growing again and now there are are more stores there to support the needs of the Walmart employees. All ships rise in a rising tide

    1. The biggest whiners about WalMart are the downtown rent seekers who see their mom-and-pop stores MOVE a few miles to be closer to the WalMart.

      The town my mom lives in had a (weak) department store in a strip mall on the outskirts of town, and the downtown had some typical small retailers. When WalMart built a store one mile farther from downtown than the strip mall, the department store closed up in less than a year. But the strip mall simply divided the old department store space and several downtown establishments moved in because they could finally offer parking to their customers without having to pay higher rent.

      And suddenly there were lots of fires downtown.

      On net, there are probably MORE mom-and-pop outlets in town than there were prior to WalMart moving in. And it’s easy to see why: people saved so much money at WalMart they had a few dollars left over for other things. But most of the obsolete buildings are still there.

      1. I use this as my opening salvo in every related discussion of Wal-Mart:

        “Why do you want to hurt my Chinese friends at Panda Buffet? You DO realize that Panda Buffet can’t support itself without Wal-Mart as its complement, don’t you?”

        True story.

      2. And once people had a place to buy all the necessities conveniently, it made sense to specialise in things Wal-Mart doesn’t sell.

  18. God bless you, Wal-Mart. I’m going to go buy the little lady some cheap ass wine in the store down the road in your honor.

  19. Orange is ridiculous for an Ayn Rand villain.

  20. The really retarded thing about this, is that I don’t see how anyone can work in DC for even 12.50 an hour and be able to afford a place to live.

    Do the math. 12.50 and hour x 40 is 500 a week. Ok, let’s skip that, it’s about 25k a year, or barely over 2k a month. Can you even rent a decent apartment in DC for less than 2k a month?

    I can’t believe that anyone can live on such a wage in DC, without a very large government subsidy.

    Something is wrong with this picture.

    1. You can work there; you have to live where and with whom it takes.

    2. Most walmart employees won’t have to rely on their wages alone to live in DC. They usually have spouses or parents or roomates to make up the difference. Indeed most people making minimum wages aren’t reliant on that wage alone to support their families. Most have insurance through their spouse or parents as well. So the whole thing is just whorish posturing to garner votes from those who will never be convinced that Walmart or who ever wants to build there would be good for the area unless they paid a wage fancifully pulled from a unicorns ass.

    3. Your math presumes that only one person can live in an apartment.

    4. PG county is not far away. And you can rent places for dirt cheap in Anacostia and a number of other poor areas. Yeah, those places will suck.

  21. Why are mom and pop stores seen as noble for making their customers pay more for a smaller selection of items and paying their employees less to boot? It’s like liberals don’t think about ANYTHING for longer than 2 seconds. They have a feeling and dwell on that forever.

  22. They can hold a gun to your head! Or, maybe ask you to buy things.
    One or the other…

    Unlike the federal gov’t which can combine the two activities.


  23. Too bad there’s not an enterprising D.C. Council member to suggest that the minimum wage of all domestics employed by Council members and their staff be raised to $200.00 an hour.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.