Chicago Mayor Johnson Moves Toward City-Run Grocery Stores

When Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson (D) ran for office, he was propelled to victory by a growing socialist movement allied with the Democratic Party.  The Socialist movement has elected a record number of socialists in Congress. However, Johnson now has one of the largest American cities to implement such policies with the support of the far left teacher’s union. Years ago, I wrote how a delegation of the union went to Venezuela and heaped praise on the murderous regime’s “progress.” Now Johnson appears to be moving toward a pilot program with great significance for socialist supporters: state-run grocery stores.

I am admittedly no fan of Johnson.  I love Chicago where I was born and raised. However, rising taxes and crime had led many to leave, particularly businesses.  This includes grocery chains. Walmart, Walgreens, Aldi are just some of the companies closing stores.

Johnson’s solution is telling. Rather than address the underlying conditions, he is suggesting a solution that has failed historically — government-run stores. Indeed, the failure in dealing with crime and hostile business environments has allowed socialist activists to realize a major new socialist agenda item.

The Chicago Tribune reported the start of the feasibility study to open government-run stores as part of Johnson’s pledge to advance “innovative, whole-of-government approaches to address … inequities.”

The mayor said in a statement: 

All Chicagoans deserve to live near convenient, affordable, healthy grocery options. We know access to grocery stores is already a challenge for many residents, especially on the South and West sides. A better, stronger, safer future is one where our youth and our communities have access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. My administration is committed to advancing innovative, whole-of-government approaches to address these inequities.

His Economic Security Project senior adviser Ameya Pawar said that government-run stores are no different from other government programs “the way a library or the postal service operates.” It is all part of “reimagining the role government can play in our lives by exploring a public option for grocery stores via a municipally owned grocery store and market.”

Yet, we have previously “imagined” this approach in various governments with uniformly awful results. The government is not going to run these stores at a profit when actual businesses could not do so. Instead, it is likely to supply food at a higher cost for taxpayers in the red.

What is striking is that Johnson’s office said the grocery stores would be funded with the help of the Biden Administration as well as state funds. The use of federal funds to take another stab at state-run stores was hardly embraced by Congress in prior appropriation debates. If true, it is yet another example of how Congress has allowed billions to be spent without meaningful limits, including the massive and largely unrestricted spending tied to pandemic measures. That funding has been used for everything from office upgrades to state lottery systems.

In the Soviet Union, state-run grocery stores were the subject of gallows humor. The “reimagining” of grocery stores left shelves bare with only imagined essential products. The most widely told joke spread just before the fall of the Soviet Union:

Two men are in line waiting to buy vodka. An hour goes by, then two, and the line barely moves. Everyone is in a terrible mood. Finally, one of the men can’t take it any longer. “This is it! I’m sick of this kind of life. Everywhere there are lines, you cannot buy anything, and the store shelves are empty. I’ve had enough. I’m going to the Kremlin right now to assassinate him”. The man returns after two hours, still angry, and says, “To hell with it! At the Kremlin the line to assassinate Gorbachev is longer than this one.”

As the Johnson and Biden Administration try to make state-run stores work where the Soviet Union failed, history and economics are hardly on their side. Of course, as University of Chicago’s Milton Friedman noted, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

164 thoughts on “Chicago Mayor Johnson Moves Toward City-Run Grocery Stores”

  1. Soviet joke, soon to be Chicago joke:

    A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?” The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”

  2. I have lived in a part of the world where there are state-run stores. Product choices are limited at best, but generally nonexistent. Prices are controlled, but that does not translate to “low” or even “affordable”. Availability is limited, so that leads to hoarding (trust me, even with limits, there is always a way). Quality suffers, because getting you to return for a replacement is an unspoken, but necessary, part of the business model. One more point of government control.
    Trust those who have witnessed this – it is not something you want.

  3. Just left Chicago in 2019 after Lightfoot was elected and I admitted that the city was a lost cause.

    Chicago cannot provide basic infrastructure, policing and services… so sure, open a grocery store that no one will pay to shop, and open it in the neighborhoods you’ve allowed to degrade into combat zones. What the hell could go wrong?

    Black Lives Matter… except for the 7500 a year that die at the hands of other black lives. It breaks my heart what Democrats and bad policies have done to the city.

  4. His Economic Security Project senior adviser Ameya Pawar said that government-run stores are no different from other government programs “the way a library or the postal service operates.” It is all part of “reimagining the role government can play in our lives by exploring a public option for grocery stores via a municipally owned grocery store and market.” One has to ask the question. If the Post Office is so good why do such businesses as FedEX, UPS and Amazon do so well? They call it snail mail for a reason. Oh please hive us more of that.

  5. It’s the same old story. Socialism is a good thing. The problem is that the right (righteous) people haven’t been allowed to implement it yet. How many times must socialism fail before the socialist say enough? When will they abandon a desire for a system that has proven to be a source of death and misery for millions of people? There is a political party today that knows if they can control what and how much you eat they can control you from the cradle to the grave. The leader of this party goes by the name of Joe.

  6. Aren’t Democrats always carping about how we should address “root causes”? Oh, right – except when they’re the “root cause”.

  7. Johnson cannot be in government in the United State. The Constitution’s Article 6 makes it crystal clear that Johnson has a legally binding contract to support our Constitution, A socialist cannot meet the contract. The federal government is required in Article 4; “ The United States, you’re guaranteed to every state in the union, a republican form of government,” and on application of legislature or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convenient) against domestic violence.

    The Biden administration is in violation of our constitution by furthering with taxpayers dollars socialists agendas. It doesn’t even bring into account that they are in violation of article 6 also, as well as article 4.

  8. My Russian ex-pat neighbor in Berkeley told me many tales of the corrupt nature of their system. And it was true you could get sent to the Gulag for LAUGHING at a joke. The liberals dream of this…

    1. A relative’s neighbor (condos) was from Russia and he went back there when there was a birth in the family.
      He related to me he paid the equivalent of 25.00 USD for a cup of coffee in the Moscow area, that didn’t include any free refills.
      He said he’s pretty sure he made the right decision moving to the USA.

      1. Almost certainly false, unless he bought it in one of the fancy downtown hotels. In 2018 at least (last time I was there), food and drink prices were comparable to any European city.

  9. Aldi’s is having supply chain issues, they mention in a recent article one Aldi’s shut down on the south side.
    Well, a lot of stores are still having supply chain issues but the media is keeping it real quiet.
    When stores shut down the screams of crime can cover the deeper issues – one way to cover supply is to shut down some store locations and divert what you have left to the staying open places.

  10. The demoncrats created the dives and trashy crime ridden areas and exploited them for decades now it’s so bad “day cant not be gettin da food” even though 80% are overweight and the majority obese.

    The filthy rich demoncrat elite are so guilty sucking down Whole Foods and whatever foreign cuisine they desire every day – so the grubbimment store will try to be a “whole foods” and all the aisles will have gub posters and minder sayings and scoldings to eat properly, watch your EBT budget and “plan” for the month then list grubbermint websites to surf to for “help”, help …. shopping… since adults need “help” – shopping….

  11. City run government grocery stores will work out really well because everybody knows that criminals will not rob or shoplift from them. All Power To The People!

    1. You are not reading the plan—theft is expected and to the degree it is not prosecuted, it will increase. In government, that is a cause for a bigger budget, not for a correction to stop the theft. Ultimately, they will decide that collecting money is an inconvenience slowing down hungry people and all will be free. More will come, budgets will get bigger and the dream will be achieved. No one who can escape will be left and Chicago will be the first exclusively SNAP city. Ah, America.

    2. The stores in the old USSR did not have shoplifting because they would beat people to a bloody pulp on the spot. There was however massive pilferage and corruption with stuff going out the backdoor. So pervasive was this that the Russians had a colloquialism “the second economy” which really meant parallel, the one right next to the other one that everyone knew was there but could get you in the Gulag just for speaking of it.

  12. the mayor is a fool, he doesn’t know that the issue is thievery? A store is a store, why should the taxpayers bankroll the shoplifters?

    1. Not long ago it was illegal for government workers to be unionized.
      It still should be.
      That was a very big mistake.

    1. Wow, it’s just another blame the wrong people, meaning not yourself (Trudeau).
      ” Trudeau has been warned about inflation on things like food for two years now and hasn’t acted.

      He could consider cutting or pausing his carbon tax which adds costs for farmers, costs for truckers and costs for retailers which ultimately gets passed on to consumers, but he has refused to do so. Since inflation started to rise in 2021, Trudeau has increased the carbon tax three times and added on the clean fuel regulations, otherwise known as his second carbon tax, all of this increasing the cost of Canadian grown and produced foods.

      Now, his only solution is to order Canadian grocers to collude to fix prices lower or he will impose more taxes. “

      1. Yes the so-called “carbon tax” is a problem but its only one of many. Expansion of the money supply (inflation) since 2020 has been obscene. And government spending (which these days depends on monetary inflation — I hate to use the modifier, but almost no one gets that, but for rare occurrences, all inflation is a monetary expansion phenomena) continues to be beyond the comprehension of most people. Furthermore, there isn’t a single policy wonk advising the “young prince” who understands, supply and demand, the market process and price formation. To them, consumer prices emerge at the whim of the retailer’s avarice and nothing else. Hence the tax threat. He and his minions are all colossal fools. Sadly the alternatives aren’t much better. Only one federal party leader has been courageous enough to point out the inflationist folly of the government & BoC and he is universally portrayed by the talking heads as the farthest “right” any politician in Canada can be without being a Nazi. But hey, there’s the National health care. Harrumph!

  13. Let the residents of Chicago continue to vote socialist. If this policy is implemented, no one who doesn’t agree with the gummint will be allowed to buy food. When socialism takes over (I don’t mean free-market liberalism, as in Europe) poverty and fascism results.

      1. Yup. The final death rattle of capitalism is finance capitalism, where the gummint is leaching so much of the productive capacity of the private sector all that is left is money printing.

  14. Just give them 5lb blocks of gubbamint cheese, big jars of peanut butter, a box of raisins and orange drink mix and 5 loaves of bread just like the old days when you were po and call it good.

  15. So you take your taxpayer funded EBT card to your taxpayer funded gob’ment grocery story. Sounds about right.

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