Saturday, May 14, 2005

Wal-Mart To Apologize--Is the Point Being Overlooked?

Maybe Wal-Mart needs better public relations. Or maybe the retailing giant needs to fight back. I'll let you decide.

OK, so the ad was a little over the top. A Nazi book burning was presented as analogous to a proposed ordinance that would have forbidden the company from expanding its store in Flagstaff, Arizona. Now we learn that Wal-Mart has caved to its critics and will run another ad apologizing for the first ad.

The point that the company was trying to make has apparently been lost. Private property means just that. It's private, not public. My opinion is that ordinances that change the rules after the fact violate Wal-Mart's freedom to use its property as it sees fit. If the ordinance had already been on the books when Wal-Mart bought the property, maybe that's a different story. I think I see a coalition of Wal-Mart haters and competitors using the government to accomplish what they can't achieve through persuasion, which is to get people to stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

Perhaps the ad was tasteless, as critics charge, but the nerve of those who would impose their will through government instead of the market is beyond tasteless. Let's hope the voters reject on principle the ordinance and let shoppers decide whether that store expansion was a good idea.

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