The case for a Community Values Ordinance

Jacqui Brown Miller, president of Reclaim Democracy, has an editorial in the Olympian that addresses that paper's position on the Community Values Ordinance (previously blogged about here). A snip:

Recently, The Olympian’s editorial board published an editorial "Jettison proposed ordinance," opposing the community values ordinance proposed by's Olympia chapter. The editorial is inaccurate and one sided; not surprising given it was written without input from Reclaim Democracy, yet repeatedly quotes local Chamber of Commerce representatives that oppose the ordinance.

The editorial asserts the community values ordinance is supported only by 15 super-vocal people. Not true. Had the board inquired, it would know the ordinance concept is supported by the Green Party of South Puget Sound, the Thurston County chapter of Amnesty International and 200 local citizens.


You should research this beca

You should research this because from my learned experience Wal-Mart beats the competition in prices. This is how they got so big. The prices may be only a little less in some cases, but when you're earning below, or well below, poverty level income, every penny really does matter.

How large is the Green Party

How large is the Green Party of South Puget Sound and the Thurston County chapter of Amnesty International? I would think an organization such as would have no problem putting such a measure on the ballot for all to vote on rather than City Council members.

Is Jacqui Brown Miller, presi

Is Jacqui Brown Miller, president of Reclaim Democracy, a user of OlyBlog? I just finished reading her complete editorial in The Olympian and I don't think she is aware of what the free market actually is. Like her, I don't agree with Corporate Welfare, just as I don't agree with welfare aimed toward the private citizen. I also fail to understand how forcing private businesses to use "locally manufactured goods" is in the nature of a free market. The same with forcing companies not only to comply with a minimum wage but with a "living wage" (which is always cited but never defined). Ms. Miller is not an advocate of a free market society. Her editorial advocates a statist approach.

TFI– I would like to hear y

TFI– I would like to hear your solutions to some of the issues that you comment on. You are very good at pointing out flaws in others' arguments and using bits of info to back up what you say, without ever going out on a limb and proposing solutions. The forum for debate that OlyBlog provides is misused if we turn it into a Crossfire-like back and forth argument.

My solution to the Community

My solution to the Community Values Ordinance (CVO) would be to not enact such a measure. The CVO goes against a free market philosophy (with the exception of eliminating corporate welfare). I, for one, am for a true free market. If a business is going to succeed or fail it should do so without help from the government, regardless of the size. Many would argue, though, that a company such as Boeing is in our national interest (being there are only two such major companies, the other being European-owned AirBus) so corporate welfare is necessary to prevent a foreign monopoly. On the other hand an individual such as Ms. Miller would argue that it is not a level-playing field when a large company (such as Target or, everyone's favorite whipping boy, Wal-Mart) benefits from government help while small companies are largely left in the cold. My solution would be this: Let the market determine whether a business is successful. I noticed many bumper stickers stating "I Don't Shop at Wal-Mart." Do you think Starbucks grew worldwide overnight? Also, private companies are under no obligation to conform to subjective (yes, subjective) goals on whether they pay a "living wage" or allow leafleting on their property. These are private companies operating on private property. If you do not appreciate the way they do business...take yours elsewhere. Companies either die or change when there is fiscal risk. Government should have a minimal approach, not maximum. Government should ensure private companies are not participating in collusion (spelling), monopolies, etc. Much of this debate will come down to how large you believe government should be. Ms. Miller recognizes this also, mentioning the New Deal in her editorial. There are many, like myself, who believe the New Deal has only led to government becoming far too large than originally intended. We see it in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina. The first person blamed? Government. People have come to grown accustomed to government being a babysitter. If there is a problem, what is the first soluation usually proposed? Government intervention, regulation, etc. I think this will answer your statement and question. Also, I enjoy the discussion on OlyBlog a lot.

I don't think you're providin

I don't think you're providing much of a solution. You take the easy way out by saying that you just wouldn't enact it. I take your statement to mean that you see nothing wrong with our consumerist culture and our use of neo-classical economics? In my opinion, a speculation based economy is doomed.

What do you think of Wal-Mart's effects on some local markets? Particularly in the cases (and there are many)where they built stores, pushed all local competition out of business, then left town taking all of those now much needed jobs with them, and all because they decided they weren't making enough Profit.

Why would someone argue that Boeing is in our best interest? The airline companies are going belly up left and right. OH! That's right, we have to blow shit up and kill people.

You are absolutely right about one thing though, and that is, nobody has the right to tell a private corporation how to do business within the confines of the law. Wouldn't it be nice, just close your eyes for a second and imagine not having to worry about job security because the company you work for ACTUALLY cares about you, and your community?

"If you do not appreciate the way they do business...take yours elsewhere."

This kind of statement is just narrow minded and shallow. It reeks of priveledge. I don't mean to get personal at all, I just want you to realize how you sound when you say that. The reason we have the social and political problems that we have, is because nobody admits it's their problem. Why do people point the fingers at the Bushies? Because the only other place to point the finger is at themselves. We could completely do away with big gov't, if we started creating big communities. Communities who know their values and adhere to them.

I don't support the CVO. The reason being the same as why I didn't support the NFZ. They are both nice, symbolic gestures that don't accomplish much at all. The city doesn't have the ability to fund it and neither do the community groups who are pushing it.

I do, however, support having strong values in our community. I support values that keep local business strong, local workers healthy and fed, and values that strengthen our city from top to bottom.

Again, I think the effect Wal

Again, I think the effect Wal-Mart has on the local market is determined by the community. In Tumwater there is an Albertson's and a Mega Foods on Trosper Road, in direct competition with each other (you could also include Costco but their purpose is different than the first two grocery stores mentioned). I have heard Mega Foods is in some financial trouble (nothing to back up such a claim, merely the word on the street) but, throwing this speculation aside, Mega Foods is surviving against a larger chain. Why? Because the community has supported Mega Foods. Personally speaking, I go to Mega Foods over Albertson's because of how much they have supported the Tumwater community over the years. I certainly don't need government to tell me where I should be shopping and would find it insulting if government were forcing companies to conform to certain standards merely because they intend to correct certain social wrongs. Please, don't take my belief that government should stay out of private affairs as my support for the consumer culture we live in. I just don't think it's the responsibility of government to tell a private business, "Well, there are these social wrongs so rather than allowing for people to correct themselves we're going to do it for them." BREAK I don't know how to create the spaces in these posts so I created this break to quote you: "Communities who know their values and adhere to them." Who is going to determine these values, though? Although the CVO is a symbolic measure, is it really the symbol the entire community is wanting to send? Is it the symbol the majority of the community is wanting to send? That's one problem I have with the CVO. It is a set of beliefs drawn up, in large part, by a small minority in the community. Democratically speaking, if the CVO were put to a vote and the voters ("community") determined this is what they wished to adopt, so be it. To pretend the CVO is a friend of the free market, though, is insulting. And yes, in an ideal world it would be nice to just close my eyes, pretend the business I am employed by cares for me and my community. In some cases this is the reality and in others it is not. Again, this is why your business should go toward companies which support the community. When you hit Big Business (and Small Business) in the pocketbook they will figure out a new way of doing business. I make no apologies for sounding "narrow minded and shallow" but that is what the free market is about. We can each make the grown-up decision regarding which businesses should be on the receiving end of our dollar.

I absolutely agree with you.

I absolutely agree with you. Passing laws that enforce beliefs is wrong, and should not be done. Unless it is the will of the majority, and then I stand aside. My statements about values were directed more at the population of Olympia than they were at City Hall.

Do you believe that right now, our free market economy serves the best interest of the majority of the people?

You're going to have to defin

You're going to have to define "the best interest." I assume this to mean "the common good." If that's the case no, I don't think the current system is established to serve the "common good" and neither would a true free market. I don't think the market should be designed to serve the "best interest" of the majority of the people. I don't even think the market should be necessarily fair. I think the true free market does serve the will of the people. For instance, if a company today were to be blatantly racist in their hiring practices the market is more than likely going to shy away from that company. Government doesn't need to step in and correct the problem because the market will do it for them, if they see a problem. If there is not a problem, though, then government doesn't need to step in either. For instance, Abercrombie had a suit against them alleging their hiring practices were discriminatory toward minorities. Abercrombie probably didn't take too much of a hit at the pocketbook, though, because their average consumer is probably a 15 - 30 year old Caucasian (male and female). It would be similar to a group of Caucasians filing suit against FUBU for discriminatory practices. The company wouldn't take a financial hit because the overwhelming majority of FUBU consumers are not likely to be Caucasian. In either of these scenarios there is no need for government to step in and say, "You need to change your hiring practices or else." If the people (because, after all, the government is supposed to be the people) have a problem they will let the company know by not purchasing from there again. If there is not a problem, though, they will continue to purchase. A long-winded answer and I'm really not sure if I answered your question but hopefully you see what I am saying. If not I would be more than happy to make an attempt at clarification.

If this was true, would Wal-M

If this was true, would Wal-Mart be as big and powerful as it is? It seems that due to systemic poverty, and Wal-Mart taking advantage of it, people are shopping for low prices not corporate accountability. If they had all of the facts, I am certain people would not agree with Wal-Mart's practices, however I am equally certain that they would still shop there because they couldn't afford to shop anywhere else.

This means that Wal-Mart is working directly against a free market by eliminating any other affordable options for shoppers.

I wasn't advocating the free

I wasn't advocating the free market being good for social responsibility. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I was simply saying that, if people want companies to be accountable for morality, they will utilize the free market to their advantage and spend their money at a company that does business in a manner they agree with. I think it's interesting you state that if the consumer had "all of the facts," they would not agree with their practices yet if even if they DID have the necessary information they couldn't afford to shop anywhere else. I tend to give the individual more credit than this and assume they are at least aware that Wal-Mart's businesses practices have come under scrutiny. Again, people have the free will to determine where their dollar is going to go. The prices at Wal-Mart, I am willing to bet, are not too different from, say, Fred Meyer or Target. The choice is there and the competition is there.

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