DOLLAR: Trader Joe’s Shrugs Atlas Style in Orgeon

From an editorial in The Orange County Register:

The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Ore., illustrates the depths to which ideologues will go under the deceptive banners of racial justice and economic fairness.

On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven: the famously progressive city of Portland and Trader Joe’s, with its emphasis on organic, non-GMO food, locally sourced goods and animal- and environmentally-conscious sensibilities. But that was not enough for the Portland African American Leadership Forum.

The group’s reasoning for killing the development is as empty as the two-acre lot on which it was to be built. According to a strongly worded letter PAALF sent to the Portland Development Commission, “A new Trader Joe’s will increase the desirability of the neighborhood to nonoppressed populations, thereby increasing the economic pressures that are responsible for the displacement of low-income and black residents.”

In other words, they are concerned that economic development will make the neighborhood too successful and attractive, thus further oppressing the poor (in their minds).

Perhaps it has never occurred to PAALF that it is economic opportunity – not government mandates and handouts – that helps the poor improve their lot in life. And government dictates were central to their proposed “solutions.” The group demanded an affordable housing mandate (serving those earning up to 60 percent of median family income), a “legally binding community hiring agreement,” and “an independent, community-controlled body [that] can negotiate a legally binding community benefits agreement.”

So it is not enough that the $8 million development of four-to-10 retail businesses, with Trader Joe’s serving as the anchor tenant, would bring new jobs, quality food and other goods and services, and tax revenues, to a poor neighborhood. PAALF wanted to extract tribute from the developers and businesses in order to further advance its social and political agenda. It is almost like a scene from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” where the unproductive members of society increasingly feed off of the productive members until the producers decide they have had enough.

And, just as in the novel, Trader Joe’s shrugged. [Editorial: Trader Joe’s shrugged]