As the heirs of many successful entrepreneurs are wont to do, Sam Walton’s make generous donations with their family’s fortune.
For example, Wal-Mart (WMT) announced last week that it would distribute $3 million to charities in the Big Apple, including $1 million to the New York Women’s Foundation for job training and $30,000 to Bailey House, a program that distributes groceries to low-income New Yorkers.
Yet rather than saying “Thank you,” the liberals of New York City decided to say “No” to the money.
You may be wondering what could possibly be wrong with free money. Well, Wal-Mart has been under assault by a group of union thugs recently…
And now, their campaign against the ubiquitous retailer has officially taken a turn toward the bizarre. Twenty-six of the 51 members of the New York City Council signed a letter claiming that the charitable gifts were actually a cynical attempt to influence the city.
According to the New York Post, the letter – which was addressed to Wal-Mart and The Walton Family Foundation – says: “We know how desperate you are to find a foothold in New York City to buy influence and support here… Stop spending your dangerous dollars in our city.” The testy letter even specified, “That’s right: This is a cease-and-desist letter.”
Fighting for Control
The Post also reported that Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the donations “toxic money” and accused Wal-Mart of waging a “cynical public relations campaign that disguises Wal-Mart’s backwards anti-job agenda.”
You see, Wal-Mart has tried repeatedly to open stores in New York City, but has so far been blocked. Unions want you to get the mistaken impression that they’re about protecting union retail jobs. But don’t believe it.
The most powerful union inside New York is the teachers union, and it counts The Walton Family Foundation as public enemy No. 1 because of the amount of money that the Foundation gives to New York City charter schools.
Since 2004, the Walton clan has given $16 million to Village Academies, DREAM Charter School, and Success Academy. They’re doing their best to transform the face of public education nationwide, and they’ve been particularly successful in NYC because the city’s schools have been a disaster for decades. It embarrasses the teachers union that, given a chance, students flee the public school system.
Yet the significance of this story goes beyond education.
You see, liberals want to control the money doled out to the poor. That way, they can collect votes in exchange for the transfer payments. Needless to say, this is a disastrous idea in practice.
Studies have shown for decades that private charity does more for the poor than government welfare payments. And companies (such as Wal-Mart) do more for the poor than nearly any other single agency. But giving back to the community through charity only inflames the control-minded leftists even more.
So expect to see demonstrators outside of the New York City Hall protesting against Wal-Mart this week. Heck, these same protests might even make it to a Wal-Mart near you. Unions across America are likely to join in the fun if the New Yorkers get the publicity that they’re seeking.
Ironically, if you followed the anti-Wal-Mart protesters around America long enough, you’d find many circling the block and grabbing a cart when their progressive friends aren’t watching.
Even liberals want the benefits of shopping with the low-price leader.
This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.