Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mall And Republicans And Terrorism, Oh My!

I really don't want to pick on John Kasich. In a Republican field that resembles March Madness more than a presidential primary, he stands out rather positively. Unlike Donald Trump, he is not a bloviating rabble rouser appealing to the lesser angels of our nature.  He has a resume that qualifies him to be president; Ben Carson does not. He isn't running because his father and brother held the office and now it's his turn. He also pays attention to detail; therefore, he will not utter "Oops" in the middle of a debate even if he doesn't wear the Clark Kent glasses Rick Perry suddenly favors.

Further, any Republican could have said the following, but since Kasich said it, he will have to own it.
First, it's not clear if shopping has become a Republican sacrament or their cure for terrorism. After all, George W. Bush recommended Americans undertake it shortly after 9/11. What should be indisputable is the fact that the United States has more important reasons to respond to ISIS than allowing Americans to continue to buy overpriced items at Hot Topic and eat at mediocre food courts.

More importantly, the statement reflects a Republican disconnect with the American middle class. People don't go to the mall as as they used to, and terrorism doesn't seem to be a reason as this US News article reports, "More than two dozen malls have shuttered their doors since 2010, according to Green Street Advisors real estate research company, and another 60 are particularly at risk of closure." The article continues
“If you’re a middle-class mall, and those are your anchors, what are you going to do?” asks Davidowitz, noting that "dollar stores" and stand-alone discount retailers like Walmart and T.J. Maxx have attracted traditional mall-goers who are now looking for cheaper alternatives. “The combination of e-commerce, what’s happening to the middle class and everything else is really bad news for the malls. It’s a tough business.”
Evidence of a “permanent shift in consumer behavior” is also mounting, says Neely Tamminga, a managing director and research analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. investment bank and asset management firm.
“We talked to a thousand women on a panel every six months to gauge their spending behavior,” says Tamminga, who is involved in an ongoing research project through Piper Jaffray that began in the fall of 2013. “No matter how we ask the question, we are seeing an overall shift away from frequently going to the mall.”
Americans, in general, are not going to the mall because they are forced to look for cheaper alternatives or enjoy the convenience and affordability of e-commerce. Linking the mall to ISIS prevents any discussion about substantive ways to help the economy or contain terrorism.

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