"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.14.2006

wal-mart is not a topic of this blog

Some good news in north Austin this week: Wal-Mart has put its plans to build a supercenter at Northcross Mall on hold for sixty days. While it looks to me like that's not much more than a delay of the inevitable, Responsible Growth for Northcross had a big turnout for a rally at City Hall today as the City Council held a hearing on the measure.

The more I read about the process as to how Wal-Mart and the Northcross developers got the go-ahead to build on the site, the more concerned I am. Put it this way: it all seems a little shady. There should have been a public meeting, and the city council should have thought about things like the impact of traffic at an already-busy intersection and the fact that Wal-Mart's business model basically depends on killing local businesses.

Honestly, I don't know if Wal-Mart can be stopped, although the fact that the surrounding neighborhood associations are well-organized helps. Why would Wal-Mart build in a neighborhood that doesn't want them (any neighborhood that can collect 3,500 signatures against Wal-Mart in one weekend is a neighborhood that doesn't want Wal-Mart)? Wal-Mart Supercenters, awful as I think they are, belong in suburbs, on large tracts of land next to major interstates. They do not belong in a cool neighborhood in the middle of town.

In other Wal-Mart related news, a group of Baptist pastors have signed a letter urging Wal-Mart to operate under the standards of the Golden Rule by doing things like paying a living wage and providing employees with decent health and retirement benefits. Here's an ad related to that letter, which poses a very interesting question:

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