From the Orange County Register, 2/20/2014:
The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Oregon, 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. […]
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.” […]
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. […]
This example illustrates the problem of a small group of people – be it a government or “community organizers” – killing the golden goose by deciding what is best for everyone else. If a business does not meet the needs of the community, people will not give it their money, and it will fail. We don’t need any planning commissions, government-sponsored development corporations or heated town hall forums. We just need supply and demand – and freedom.