Walmart would harm Ballston Spa
I love where I live. Ballston Spa has been a great place to raise a family, and it has the unique distinction of being a walking village. But part of this quaint and historic village falls in the northern reaches of the town of Ballston.
Ten years ago, we fought hard to keep Walmart from our town. But Big Box found a loophole in the Ballston Comprehensive Plan, and now they are back -- this time with a very good chance of forever changing the character of our town. Studies indicate the 135,000-square-foot store would increase traffic by 5,300 to 7,000 cars a day.
The residents who live along the narrow, two-lane roads through Ballston Spa would be significantly affected by increased noise, congestion, pollution and crime.
The list of Walmart character flaws is long -- their top executives make over a million dollars a year, while the average full-time hourly employee makes about $27,000. Forbes reports that Walmart's low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance.
Other criticisms include foreign-product sourcing, misleading environmental practices (see Walmart's Greenwash), and serious security issues. One Capital Region community watched the number of calls to police rise from 50 to 475 a year after a Walmart was built. Open 24/7, what kind of nefarious activities can we expect in the parking lot in a town without a police force?
New retail creates little new demand and steals a large portion of jobs from other local retailers. A cost/benefit analysis of a proposed Walmart store in St. Albans, Vt., found that for every dollar in tax benefit created by the store, there would be $2.50 in tax losses and public costs -- police, emergency and fire protection.
I understand the draw. Shopping at Walmart is thrifty. It's convenient. But, farmers markets, urban gardeners, consumer co-ops, CSAs and the promotion of organics may well yield to Wal-Mart's industrialized corporate food model.
The American Journal of Agriculture and Economy states that "the presence of a Walmart store reduces a community's level of social capital (the economic and cultural benefit derived from the cooperation between individuals and groups)." They measured variables like educational attainment, numbers of nonprofit groups, churches, political organizations and business groups.
Communities similar to ours throughout the country agree that allowing a big-box like Walmart would be tragically wrong. But soon, big-box development may seriously diminish the quality and character of life we take for granted.
Politicians, stores exploit Memorial Day
Memorial Day used to be a day to remember and honor those who have given their lives in defense of our country. Unfortunately, it has become an opportunity to plaster the community with sales and bargains to be found at any store.
If that degradation wasn't enough, it seems that some local political wannabees view any public gathering, regardless of origin, as a political opportunity.
For years the American Legion and the VFW in Ballston Spa have organized and sponsored the Memorial Day parade, inviting local dignitaries and community organizations like the Lions Club to participate. Matt Doheny used the parade as a political rally, not a solemn remembrance, but at least he marched along the parade route.
Even ruder was the performance of Madelyn Thorne, who actively campaigned to the crowds lining the street to view the marchers, oblivious of her insult to the purpose of the Memorial Day parade. One almost expects her to show up at funerals, as long as a good crowd is there.
Memorial Day is for honoring the fallen, for pausing once a year to remember. It is not a holiday for getting 20 percent off all picnic supplies and certainly not for blatant political campaigning.
Climate change still allows for debate
In reading his "Climate change opponents have no credibility" May 23 letter, I was struck by the condescending tone of professor Jeffrey Corbin concerning this issue. It seems he thinks he and most other scientists are 100 percent sure that climate change exists and the U.S. public cannot discuss the issue.
So I went online to research the issue and, lo and behold, the very first item I came across is that a professor Lennart Bengtsson, renowned meteorologist with more than 200 published papers and winner of 20 prestigious awards in his field, claims that "there is no 97 percent consensus" as to the effects of greenhouse gases, and there is "even less (consensus) concerning how weather and climate will turn out."
Furthermore, Bengtsson wrote, "it is practically impossible to make climate forecasts" and "climate calculations are uncertain even if all model equations would be perfect." Also, he expressed concern over the "increased tendency of pseudo-science in climate research" and a widespread "bias in publication records."
Finally, Bengtsson accused alarmists of using "McCarthy" tactics against him because of his skeptical stance. This is from a guy who is the former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. His bona fides seem pretty credible to me. Also, a quick search shows several articles/claims that the 97 percent consensus claims have been doctored. That type of "cooking the books" is very much a tactic used by "Tail gunner" Joe McCarthy.
I think The Gazette should pat itself on the back for enhancing the debate and I hope you continue to do so.
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