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Editorial: No central planning

No less than three politicians representing federal, state and city government joined a rally last week to protest the planned closing of a Foodtown supermarket on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside. The store has lost its lease and will most likely be replaced by a drugstore that can generate a larger profit in the limited space.

The elected officials claimed that the elderly will suffer. They will need transportation to buy even a small amount of groceries.

The property is owned by the Grace Presbyterian Korean Church in Bayside, whose attorney said it can make more money by leasing the property to a drugstore. According to City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Woodside), “escalating real estate prices are pricing neighborhood supermarkets out of the business.”

This is nothing new. In virtually every city and town in America, small local groceries have given way to large chain-store supermarkets. The progress has been a double-edged sword. The supermarkets were less personal and oftentimes harder to get to. They also offered shoppers a much greater variety and lower prices.

In an economic democracy there is no central planning. Market forces determine whether a store will stay open. The politicians cannot stop this process, anymore than they could stop the tide from coming in.

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