Government run grocery store?

Chicago’s city government is infamously corrupt and unable to provide basic services like education and public safety consistently, but Mayor Brandon Johnson is pushing for the city to also try running a grocery store.

It wouldn’t be the first government-run grocery store—and not even the first one in the United States. For some context about what Chicago is planning, The Wall Street Journal dispatched a reporter to check out the municipal-owned grocery store in Erie, Kansas, which opened in 2021.

How’s it going there? Uh, not great.


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I wonder why they focused on Erie Kansas as a comparison and not Baldwin Florida.

Or the very first of this kind, the one in St Paul Kansas? How about the one in Conrad Iowa?


The small Florida town of Baldwin, population roughly 1,600, is not the kind of community you’d expect to incubate incipient socialism. Donald Trump won it by 68 percent in the 2016 presidential race. Yet, as the Washington Post notes, textbook socialism is what the town has practiced since 2018, when the city government chose to open and run a local grocery store.

The case of Baldwin demonstrates how, on the ground, ideological distinctions between “socialism” and “capitalism” lose their salience. More to the point, it’s a model for meeting economic needs that Americans would do well to expand.

Seems like these deep red areas have started a trend. Seems like Chicago might be trying to learn something from these Trump towns.

As a previous subscriber of Reason, they are anything but unbiased on this topic.


Just about any small town service with “municipal” in the name is a variation of that. People started municipal electric companies when the industrial companies wouldn’t serve them because “too small”. Likewise for water. Where I grew up we had a “municipal swimming pool” - and I was employed there as a lifeguard for 3 summers. Eventually there was a private club which opened, at double the price, but I never belonged.

Food deserts, swimming pool desserts, electricity deserts, water deserts, people will rise! Just don’t call it “socialism” or they’ll burn your house down.


You left off the biggest socialist program from your own backyard. The TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority).

If not for the TVA (which provides cheap power to six states), much of the mid south would be far worse off.

I always found it humorous for my Tennessee family to complain about socialism while having no awareness that they get all their electricity from a socialist entity.


It reminds me of those boomers decrying Obamacare and saying don’t touch my Medicare.


Not that simple. It is providing jobs and to very poor people food. The alternative for the very poor is to be a greater burden on society.

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