TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Saturday essay: Taxpayers as grocers? No thanks

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

There's talk of two new grocery stores locating in downtown Pittsburgh. Couple them with the grocery store being built in the Hill District and there could be three quite close together.

This is touted as good news for the growing number of residents — or those projected to move into what some call “grocery deserts,” places where grocery stores are few and far between. But it's not very good news for taxpayers who oftentimes foot part of the bill.

The Hill District store is heavily underwritten by the public. A proposed second grocer in the Market Square area might have half its development costs picked up by taxpayers. A third grocer is considering space near Market Square, too, in PPG Place. Development gurus are talking as if a taxpayer subsidy for this grocer is a given.

But why should anybody (other than private investors) grease anyone's ability to sell groceries? Why should taxpayers assume capital costs (and the risk) that should be borne solely by a developer? Simply put, they shouldn't.

Nonetheless, a cottage industry exists that pimps for this perversion. If it's not the argument that taxpayer-funded grocery stores improve the “nutritional choices” in poor neighborhoods, it's the argument that taxpayer-underwritten urban grocers boost the “synergies” of tony Downtown living.

But it's not up to taxpayers to finance “choices” or “synergies.” That's up to the marketplace. If there's a bona fide demand in those marketplaces, such stores will thrive and grocers and residents alike will benefit. If there's not, taxpayer subsidies only throw bad money after bad money.

— Colin McNickle

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Editorials

  1. Mon-Yough Tuesday takes
  2. Pittsburgh Tuesday takes
  3. Greensburg Tuesday takes
  4. Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
  5. Quake in Nepal: Send help now
  6. U.N. Watch: Insulting women
  7. Mon-Yough Tuesday takes
  8. Auberle continues to heal
  9. Armstrong County Laurels & Lances
  10. Saturday essay: Cruel civilities
  11. Myopic automakers should embrace today’s high-tech gearheads, not attempt to stifle their innovations