Giant Eagle’s closing hurts Kent residents

Chris Kok

There is good news all across the board – corporate board that is.

Giant Eagle has closed its Kent store, saying that it was unprofitable. The owners of the company can now walk away from Kent and focus on more profitable actions. They can now concentrate on raising their sales above their current $5.5 billion per year.

In the meantime, the citizens of Kent who relied on Giant Eagle for food are left without a local grocery store. These citizens include senior citizens living just up the street at Tower 43. Many of these people are handicapped or do not drive. I’m sure many of them chose their place of residence due to the location of Giant Eagle. And what about anyone else in the area without a car?

Sure there is PARTA, but between the extra time it requires in this busy world and the hassle of carrying a week’s worth of groceries on the bus, this closing will be excessively difficult for many people.

Though Giant Eagle could afford to keep its store open, it is not completely to blame for this situation. Fierce competition from other companies such as Wal-Mart is forcing stores like Giant Eagle to cut every penny and invest in more profitable areas. If Giant Eagle doesn’t, it will be undercut by its competitors and driven out of business. Firms must constantly squeeze as much profit as possible out of their sales and then reinvest, or else they face extinction.

In doing this, people are hurt. They are hurt when they are forced to work long hours for low pay or when they are only allowed to work enough hours for the company to consider them a part-time employee: a position that does not require benefits. People are hurt when their source of food leaves, and when their jobs disappear from under their feet, leaving them with bills to pay and no income. People are hurt when companies focus solely on profits while ignoring social costs.

Giant Eagle is not leaving because the store is enviable in itself, but rather under the capitalist system, it is unprofitable. The resources exist to keep the store open, and there is a need for it to remain open. The problem is that capitalism dictates that these resources should be used somewhere else.

Human society has created the economy, but under capitalism, humanity has become enslaved to the economy. It is time for the economy to serve the dictates of society rather than the other way around. Rather than judging economic health with GDP, we should judge it based on how many people are fed, clothed, housed, educated and given health care. Rather than working to make the most profit, the economy should work to solve people’s needs. It is time for socialism.

In my last few words, I would like to give my belated respects to Alice Coltrane. Coltrane passed away on Jan. 12 of this year. She played jazz harp and piano with a trance-like fluidity and collaborated with greats such as Pharoah Sanders and her husband John Coltrane. Fortunately her music has been recorded and will be around for generations to come.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].