A sure indicator of a terrible economy is when Walmart decides to add a grocery section to its Bend store and it's hailed in the local media as the answer to our economic woes.
The local daily paper went nuts when a hearing on Walmart's expansion on Bend's south end drew few participants. Well, most locals like to travel during July or they're camping or hanging out in their backyards enjoying the best weather we've had in months. Walmart knows that July hearings draw a sparse crowd. That is why they had it in July.
But, that is besides the point. Who cares if Walmart is adding a 38,000 square-foot grocery section to a 126,000 square-foot store? The damage has already been done.
It's not like they're adding a new supercenter on Bend's north side at the most congested intersection in the state highway system east of the Cascades. A hearings officer spared this section of Bend by rejecting this Walmart, a potential dreadful traffic-and-accident generator. The state highway department finally chimed in and Walmart's plans were toast. Thank god. One Walmart in a town of 80,000 is one too many. Two is considered economic blight.
The local daily editorialized about those failed Walmart plans that, "in retrospect, the fact that people could get so worked up about something so trivial -- at least compared to the region's current problems -- seems almost unimaginable."
Evidently, people dying in car crashes due to mismanaged growth is trivial to the local daily's brain trust. But, not to the rest of Bend. (A few years ago, Walmart had terrible press because it didn't advertise much in newspapers. It started advertising more and the bad press ended.)
But what about all those jobs? The Walmart expansion would provide 85, mostly part-time minimum-wage jobs with no benefits. This does not sustain a community. It's the opposite of family-wage employment unless the entire family worked at Walmart.
Whatever jobs gained at Walmart will be lost across the street when the long-time Albertsons' grocery store closes its doors soon after Walmart opens. Plus, there will be job losses at Fred Meyer, about a mile up the road.
Part of Walmart's strategy is not merely to beat the competition, but to put them out of business. It's like the blob that keeps on spreading, eating up everything in its way.
In the 1990s, business magazines considered Rubbermaid one of the best companies in America.
Walmart didn't like hearing that and promptly forced it out of business here by going to China for a cheaper alternative. Now, Rubbermaid products are made in China.
Hello? Can anyone connect the economic dots?
When we ship manufacturing jobs to China, there are less manufacturing jobs in America. Less family-wage jobs here mean more unemployment across our country.
If there is recovery in the next few years, it will be another "jobless recovery" like the two recoveries before it. At this rate, if we have many more "jobless recoveries" we won't have many jobs left to lose in the next recession.
And, we can thank Walmart for believing more in communist China than in capitalist USA.
Walmart: Waste money, Live worse.