I’m not going to waste time speculating about motives, except that it’s hard to imagine that nobody was aware of engaging in sophistry when they sold towns on the need for big-box stores. Nathaniel Hood looks at a microcosm of the larger pattern in WalMart vs. Local Pub.
The WalMart in question pays the equivalent of $23,284 per acre in property taxes. Since it’s at the edge of town, it required a lot of new roads and other infrastructure from the city.
Pub 500 pays the equivalent of $82,125 per acre. It sits on a streetcorner that’s been there since at least 1870. A few new pipes were required from the city when it built (I don’t know what happened to the building that was there before).
Many other numbers cut in favor of small business when you look at them. Maybe the only ones that don’t are “does it have in-house sophists to sell itself to local officials desperate enough for renewal of their cities that they’ll drink the Growth KoolAid?”
Unless you’re affiliated with the WCTU and think Pub 500 should pay disproportionately because it’s evil, what justification can you give for what amounts to a whopping subsidy to WalMart?
A pretty strong case can be made that we cannot afford to maintain a lot of the infrastructure we’ve been enticed to build by the growth sophists and the lure of “free” federal money to help. A rude wake-up call is coming.
A number of my sidebar “sustainability” links deal with these issues, as does the Congress for the New Urbanism, from a more professional and less activist angle.
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