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Again, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:


Michael Corkery describes the 2018 closing of a Target store in inner-city Baltimore as “a sobering reminder of the realities of capitalism” (“Target Store Closings Show Limits of Pledge to Black Communities,” June 30). The text of the story suggests that, by this charge, Mr. Corkery doesn’t mean that the operation of a large retail outlet in such a neighborhood is unprofitable. Instead, the insinuation is that capitalism is either naively or evilly biased against inner-city communities of people of color.

Such an insinuation is odd given the widespread belief – especially in Progressive circles – that capitalists are incurably greedy for ever-greater profits. One wonders why Target’s profiteers intentionally abandoned profits by closing that store. Surely, among the “realities of capitalism” is not the refusal to seize opportunities for profit.

Here, though, is a genuine – and decidedly not sobering – reality of capitalism: entrepreneurial opportunity. If a large retail store in that location can indeed be run profitably, then Mr. Corkery or some of the people he interviewed for his report should themselves open up such a store in that location. If they’re correct that Target abandoned a profitable opportunity, they’ll earn with their store handsome profits while simultaneously improving the lives of many Baltimoreans.

But they’d better hurry up and do so! Now that word is out that Target is leaving profit on ground in parts of Baltimore, experienced retailers such as Walmart are sure to rush in to take advantage of this golden opportunity.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030