Gentle readers, back in the 1980s former Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell was asked if he would approve of the city government of the District of Columbia being approved to issue municipal bonds. Mitchell replied that he might, if only the District were not "run like the Amos 'n Andy Cab Company".
Of course charges flew that Mitchell was "racist". "Amos 'n Andy" was a 1950s-to-early 1960s television program about the members of Harlem's (fictional) "Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall". Amos 'n Andy were the owners of a cab company. George Stevens (married to Sapphire Stevens and constantly at war with his mother-in-law whom he called "the ol' barracuda") was the head of the club, and his title was "Kingfish". A sharpie lawyer named "Calhoun" and a slow-witted janitor nicknamed "Lightnin'" rounded out the main cast. In episode after episode, the Lodge members - usually at the urging of Kingfish - got involved in one get rich quick scheme after another, only to be thwarted and wind up in over their heads, and in the end getting rescued by Sapphire and/or her mother. It was basically "The Honeymooners" (or for all you kids out there, "The Flinstones") only with a cast of black folks.
What prompted Mitchell's remark is that the District was then led by Marion Shepilov Barry, who made Kingfish Stevens look like a paragon of wisdom and rectitude. We are rather surprised that Barry never proposed that the city - as Kingfish proposed (disastrously) to the Lodge - that D.C. invest in a chinchilla ranch.
Well, today D.C. is led by a City Council composed of a more diverse group of black, white, gay, and Asian members. Unfortunately, the Mystic Knights of the Sea would be a more competent body for the governance of the Nation's Capital. Today's post is about a case in point.
Time out of mind, the District leadership has bemoaned the fact that retail and grocery and dining options east of the Anacostia mostly amounted to little more than fried chicken joints and bodegas and liquor stores that kept their employees and merchandise behind bulletproof glass. Of course, the openness and convenience (and lower prices) of large groceries and other retailers were looked upon by the bad elements in the neghborhoods as opportunities, and no one in his right mind is about to open a business which could find itself robbed, pilfered and vandalized into bankruptcy in a matter of months.
Some time last year, WalMart decided to try and fill the gap. They lobbied the City Council to allow for not one but SIX Walmart stores in D.C.. These stores would be backed up by WalMart's ability to spend money to hire off-duty D.C. police officers as security to prevent criminal activity against either the store or its customers. WalMart could have brought jobs with a real chance of advancement to some of D.C.'s most benighted neighborhoods. Certainly most of the jobs would have started at D.C.'s overly generous minimum wage of more than eight dollars an hour. That's more than a burger-flipper gets over here in Virginia.
The Council gave its blessing, and Walmart started construction on three of the proposed six sites.
Then, yesterday, the D.C. City Council decided - as usual - to fuck everything up. They proposed to force "large retailers" - using a definition of "large retailer" that would apply to few entities other than WalMart - to pay out a special minimum "living wage" of over 12 dollars per hour. The attitude behind this move was expressed by a woman in a "man in the street" interview who said: "They can afford to pay it, so they need to pay it".
Wow. Just... wow.
Maybe I ought to be allowed to estimate how much money you have when you get into my cab. Dulles from Alexandria? Well, let's see... Okay, you live in a $720,000 house and have three Beemers in the driveway, so I'm gonna charge you five hundred dollars for the ride, since you can afford to pay it. What are you gonna do about it?
Of course you are going to tell me to go fuck myself and find another cab. And that's exactly what WalMart is doing. Pass that wage bill, they have told D.C., and the deal's off.
Well, maybe it's not so bad after all. See, D.C. is run by the same ilk of lefties who despise Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart sucks the life out of "small businesses". In this case, the "small businesses" are not some cluster of overpriced boutiques and bicycle shops that sell the stuff that lefties approve of, but rather overpriced stores with justifiably paranoid (justifiably paranoid? Well, we are talking about D.C.) security that sell booze and junk food. The lefties who run D.C. despise these little shops, but they despise WalMart even more. Why?
Because WalMart is successful and makes a large profit. By the lights of the D.C. government, if you drink yourself into the poorhouse and near-oblivion then you are the very image of God and deserving of everything the community can give. But if you manage to turn a profit, you owe it to the City, so that they can give it to the wastrel (after, of course, the wise salons of the metropolis have taken their cut). And in his gratitude, the wastrel will vote for those who extort for him his daily sustenance, wringing his bread for him from the sweat of the brows of his betters.
We started this post by comparing the antics of the D.C. city council to those of the chaaracters of the old Amos 'n Andy TV show. But we feel we must apologize to these fictional characters. In none of their schemes did the members of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall ever demonstrate the rapacity of this city council. These characters were lower-middle-class blacks who were groping for a way to get ahead. The D.C. city council is quite possibly the most predatory and venal local government in these United States. John Mitchell (if he were still alive) would owe an apology to Amos 'n Andy.