Monday, December 20, 2004

"Unintended Consequences"

I read of this phrase a lot, of late, as people discover just how interrelated everything is.
Recently the state of Florida faced a Petition movement to increase the minimum
work wage by a dollar of so. The Change, or not, was put on the ballot, for the election, and it passed; it will go into effect on Jan ist.
Already there are several Tallahassee businesses, mostly locally homeowned, who will close up shop, and go out of business! Some of them have 20 or more min wage employees.
surely, in the weeks ahead, I will tell some person, who is fuming about his favorite store closing...."Well, you Voted for it! You wanted them out of business
and to further complicate things, only the Interstate/international Chains of stores will Absorb the loss, and even advertise that they will not raise the prices by 15%, as all other business have raised their prices by that amount, on January 1st: you, lady, have just voted FOR Walmart, go their now and buy everything that you own or eat, there, in the future, as the "wonderful" mom and pop, small homeowned businesses will be the very first to go under, with this new law!"

---probably the min wage people will not see that dollar an hour either!
.00004 seconds after midnight, on Jan 1st, the price of cigarettes and beer and coffee may jump from 5% to 30%!! Probably everything will jump up.

net gain= ZERO!

[what I would like to see is to have the WHOLE WORLD have the very same wage, but have the cost of living ALSO be the same: a cup of rice in America or a cup of rice in china be exactly the same!]

here, sports fans, is a good example of "unintended consequences"!
the high minded liberals want to help the working poor and at the same time these liberals like the small "chic" or "earthy" small town home owned stores. Most of them are just struggling to get by and then they are hit with a killer wage increase: do they raise the cost of everything by 40% and lose all their business to K-mart or walmart, or just decide to choose retirement a couple of years early?!!

thus the liberals "want" only K-marts and global multi-international companies to Rule, as these companies are the most efficient in cost control!

true "one worldness": go to a small village in England and find the Gap, Starbucks,
and McDonald's and walmart. No local stores, pleeeeese!


About Corpwatch

Our Mission
CorpWatch counters corporate-led globalization through education, network-building and activism. We work to foster democratic control over corporations by building grassroots globalization a diverse movement for human rights and dignity, labor rights and environmental justice.

Organizational History
For the past five years San Francisco Bay Area-based CorpWatch has been educating and mobilizing people through the website and various campaigns, including the Climate Justice Initiative and the UN and Corporations Project.


UK: To Be a 'Clone Town,' or Not: That Is the Question

by Lizette Alvarez, New York Times
November 1st, 2004

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England - To survive the approach to the home where William Shakespeare was born, a striking timber-frame house in the center of this bustling town, it would be wise to bid adieu to all bucolic notions of quaint old England and ready oneself for the onslaught of globalization.

A visitor must march past Country Casuals, Boots pharmacy, Next, and Marks & Spencer, and pass Accessorize, HMV, Whittard and of course, the dueling coffee shops, Starbucks and Costa Coffee. If it were not for Shakespeare's dwelling and a few notable old houses, this town - with row upon row of British chain stores - would scarcely be different from any other in Britain these days. Most butcher shops and hardware stores have closed. So have the family clothing shops, the fishmongers and a long list of other independent businesses.

"If someone blindfolded you, put you in a helicopter and set you down in a town somewhere in England, you wouldn't be able to tell where you are anymore," said Jim Hyslop, 55, who lives just outside Stratford. The chain stores, he said, "change the character of a place."

In the past five years, chain stores owned by corporations and out-of-town megastores similar to Wal-Mart (one of them, Asda, is, in fact, owned by Wal-Mart), have come to dominate many British towns and cities, creating a palpable sense of homogeneity from Kent all the way to Cumbria, and drawing striking parallels to America.

Many of the main shopping thoroughfares, so-called "high streets," now traffic in sameness: ubiquitous cellphone shops (Orange, Vodafone, O2); the familiar coffee chains (Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee); the typical clothing stores (Gap, Next, Warehouse); and the cookie-cutter restaurants (Café Rouge, ASK, Pizza Express). Neighborhood greengrocers are also on the way out, replaced by chain minisupermarkets, most notably Tesco, a company that has become one of the world's top retailers.

"In the case of Britain, and especially England, there is a huge sense of identity investment in the image of towns and cities, and the notion that this sort of bland, gradual effacement of character is taking place has taxed people at a deep level," said Andrew Simms, policy director for the New Economic Foundation, an independent economic research organization that published a report in August called "Clone Town Britain."

"It makes life boring," Mr. Simms added. "It makes our communities boring places to be. That is one thing that has touched people deeply. People don't want to live in towns that look all the same. It's dull."

In its report, the foundation visited a series of towns and cities and counted both chain shops and independent businesses. It also contends that the spread of chains and sprawling Tesco-style stores winds up hurting local economies, because less money is pumped back into the area, and people are deprived of choice. A previous report in 2002 found that specialty stores like butchers and bakers were closing at a rate of 50 a week, along with 20 traditional pubs a month.

The reasons independent businesses are vanishing here are familiar to Americans: high rents; customer demand for cheaper goods; and corporate muscle. It is just that in the past few years their disappearance has become increasingly visible and particularly striking in a part of the world that once took such pride in its community shops.

"It's happening because of the consumer," said Nick Gladding, senior analyst at Verdict Research, a group that specializes in retail. "They are becoming more demanding.

"And people increasingly like familiarity," he added, noting that there are generational differences in shopping trends. "People like to know what to expect when they go into a shop or restaurant."

Lacey's, an ironmonger, or hardware store, in Stratford-upon-Avon, has been in town for generations. It is run by David Haywaid, 53, as it was by his father and grandfather before him. Mr. Haywaid said the town had changed markedly in recent years as independents had been driven to close because of high rents. "The only shops that can make money are the clothing shops, with their horrendous markups," he said.

His own shop is so old-fashioned that it is now a draw in itself, luring nostalgic out-of-towners who pine for "something different," said Mr. Haywaid, who owns the building his store occupies. Around the corner, at Barry the Butcher, Stewart Ashfield, the deputy manager, agrees. Not too long ago, there were 12 butcher shops in town; now there are 2. "Stratford has changed out of all recognition," he said. "We've been damaged by these chains, and the out-of-town shopping stores where people shop for everything under one roof as in America. What's been lost is the personal touch."

"Clone towns," though, as the report calls them, are beginning to encounter resistance as people question whether Britain should emulate America or follow Continental Europe, which is trying hard to preserve its uniqueness. In France and Poland, for example, local authorities can veto the construction of large supermarkets.

Local governments here are starting to push for economic incentives to guarantee a greater variety of shops. One town, Ludlow, has joined an Italian movement called Citta-slow, which embraces the "slow town" concept and promotes the benefits of eating locally grown produce.

A few powerful landlords have also taken stands against chain stores. The Mercers' Company, one of London's biggest landlords, is trying to attract independent shops by offering them discounts on the streets around Covent Garden, a popular tourist spot. Howard de Walden Estates, the hereditary landlord of much of Marylebone Village in London, has rejected a number of chains on its high street in order to preserve a unique, and quite popular, mix of shops. The company's chief executive has been critical of local governments, saying they are taking a short-term view of planning by always going with the highest bidder.

The question is: Is it too late to stem the tide?

"They talk about a tipping point, where you suddenly see independent retailers wiped out in certain areas," said David Bishop, a spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses. "Unless you take some constructive action now it will resemble the U.S. We're a long way from that, but it is a real danger."

the min wage supporters might be the very first to embrace this article concept above, to have all of England become just corporate stores, but by their vote for the wage increase, they end up being in favor of the end-state of where this article is showing England to be headed!
a hardware store owner told me, bitterly, once, how he went last week to Home Depot to buy a hammer, and the same brand of hammer that he carries in his store was there for sale and it was cheaper retail than he could buy it WHOLESALE!
I suppose if he has 5 min wage employees, he might then just give up and go to Home Depot and get a job there, and thus also stop having to do the TONS of paperwork and tax forms that a small business requires of him to do!

shop walmart now.