Letters - August 28

Carefully assess plan

Here is how I see some of the major questions concerning the proposed newer, larger, Wal-Mart (NLWM).

Would a NLWM provide lower prices? Maybe yes, maybe no. The problem with answering that question is that Wal-Mart does not charge a single price for the same item at all stores. Prices vary according to local competition and where there is little or no competition, prices rise. Because it is uncertain how many of our current businesses might survive if there is a NLWM, it makes it difficult to forecast the prices that could be available to prospective Wal-Mart shoppers.

Would a NLWM provide shoppers savings? Maybe yes, maybe no. Generally, Wal-Mart prices are lower than competition by a few percentage points if, and it is a big if, you can find exactly the same product that is carried elsewhere. Often the products carried at Wal-Mart are made or purchased under special agreements that do not allow them to be carried elsewhere so direct comparison is difficult. Also Wal-Mart generally carries a selection of products at the lower end of the price/quality scale which can provide shoppers an initially lower price, but whether that is a saving depends on how you measure product life and satisfaction.

Would a NLWM provide more employment? Again, maybe yes, maybe no. In the short run there would probably be new construction jobs and more retail jobs than previously. In the long run, however, it depends on the fate of competition. Because Wal-Mart employs fewer personnel per unit of sales than almost any other retail business, if currently existing stores (grocery, auto-service, bakery, etc.) close up, there will be a net loss of jobs to the community rather than a gain.

Would a NLWM be too big? There is no argument that 185,000 square feet is big. But would it be too big? Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on what you think Hood River is. If it is just about the lowest possible cost of living, then Hood River should have accepted the garbage from New York City that was being carried hither and yon on an ocean-going barge some years back. The city of New York would have paid handsomely (and did) for its disposal and those funds would have dramatically lessened the cost of living here. But I doubt that many Hood Riverites would have voted for such a proposal. Why? Because they live here for reasons other than a low cost of living. One must examine and value these reasons to determine if a NLWM would be too big.

Ultimately, the residents of any city must make decisions about commercial activities — decisions that balance the quality of life they expect and desire vs. the cost of living there. How much traffic congestion are they willing to tolerate every day of the year? How much degradation of air quality (most of which come from automobiles) will they accept? How will commercial ventures affect the appearance of the place where they live?

Hood River today is remarkable in that it has escaped most of the problems that make life in today’s larger urban areas so troublesome. Routine cases of “road-rage” that trigger violent and sometimes fatal encounters; “dangerous air quality” warnings that keep residents indoors; and cityscapes of ever larger, more impersonal structures that isolate and de-personalize citizens rather than bringing them together, and so on. Would a NLWM add or detract from our quality of life?

There was a pop song of more than a decade ago that contains the lyric, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Makes you think.

Marc Cohn

Hood River

Here we go again

Here we go again; crooks in goverment take the heroic action to pass legislation to take effect after they are out of office and living on their humongous retirement paid for by the starving Social Security retirees.

Guess goverment works for goverment.

Paul Nevin

Hood River

Analyze spending

Patti Smith’s letter in the Opinion section of the Aug. 14 Hood River News was right on target. With school ready to begin in the next few weeks, a band-aid fix is what is needed as a temporary solution to keep schools operational. When that is accomplished our legislators can then sit down and do the hard work. That hard work is asking questions like, “Where can we eliminate duplicate services? How can we make the hard-earned tax dollar accomplish the goals we want for our kids? How can our schools produce results more efficiently and effectively?” It would appear that our governor’s only solution is to ask the taxpayer for more money; a kind of “let’s throw more money at the problem” approach. Legislators along with educators need to do what families and small business owners do all the time when faced with financial shortfalls; they need to sit down and analyze where to cut frivolous spending and then prioritize what they want to achieve on behalf of Oregon taxpayers. It’s easy to stick a hand out and demand more money but it takes leadership and ingenuity to think strategically.

Richard Lee

Hood River

Wrong Number One

The jewel eroded a decade ago!

If you think tourism is so great take a hard look at Aspen and Vale, Colorado. The cost of living is so high there because of tourism, people who want to work there have to live 20 to 50 miles away just so they can find affordable housing.

Agriculture is the only viable opportunity in the Hood River Valley at this time.

In my lifetime I have seen quite a few business people come and go. I for one have worked in the fruit industry for over forty years and this industry was here 60 years prior to my starting, and it will be here after I retire.

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture stated in the Oregonian newspaper this summer that Oregon was the nation’s hungriest state. We also had the highest unemployment in the nation.

Hood River County at that time had the highest unemployment in the state. This kind of leaves us number one in the nation.

With all of this in mind we need more jobs and a place that we can shop for LESS.

I for one support the new Wal-Mart Store.

Jerry Petricko

Hood River

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