BY PAUL JACOB – Whether to let a business open up should not hinge on opinion polls. But a recent survey of New Yorkers does underscore the absurdity of banning Wal-Mart from the Big Apple.

If you’re used to seeing a Wal-Mart every 30 miles, you may be surprised to learn that there’s not a single Wal-Mart in New York’s five boroughs. Unions have marshaled political clout to keep the company out. Now, with the store again trying to gain a foothold in the area, “community” activist Pat Boone complains that “We need good paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs.” Wal-Mart pays more than minimum wage. But ask yourself: Is no pay for no work really better than a reasonable entry-level wage that sustains some folks’ homes and hearths?

And who is the “we” that this “community” activist speaks of? The unemployed workers who would flock to the job-application lines if Wal-Mart came to town? The 71 percent of New Yorkers who, according to Douglas Schoen’s survey of 1000 New Yorkers, would cram the store’s aisles?

Too often, political power caters to interest groups eager to force others to conform to their own way of thinking. Markets, by contrast, are all about offering a value and then letting people decide for themselves whether they want to pay for it.

So let Wal-Mart open up, New York. Let honest, hard-working people get the best deals for food and supplies.

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge and Citizens in Charge Foundation, which sponsors both Common Sense and Paul’s weekly Townhall Column. The opinions expressed in Common Sense are Paul Jacob’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Citizens in Charge or Citizens in Charge Foundation.

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