Walmart Raising the Minimum Wage Is Not a Triumph of Business. It's a Failure of Government.


Forgive me for being highly skeptical about this Walmartian announcement!

I believe this is proof positive that a giant asteroid is inbound to Earth, due to strike shortly before this so-called wage hike goes into effect, thus ensuring greater employee relations and publicity for Walmart right up until the bitter end.
Or Walmart want to increase the purchasing power of its associates and retain good workers.
Every time someone has to work two jobs because of the low minimum wage, that's another person who is unemployed who maybe could have been working.

It should be unacceptable for people to have to be working themselves to death like this. But if the choice is between eventual death through exhaustion, and the immediate starvation of their family, well, we all know what's going to win out.

Something major needs to be done.
A crossdresser recommended to me once that Walmart was a good place to go and get heels in large sizes.
@4 I've always thought of you as a Walmart kind of gal.
Fewer words, Paulie, would have been more accurate. 'The market works, and minimal government interference is all that's needed.'

See. Brief, accurate and unemotional. A journalist would understand the appeal of that, but not you.
Paul, this statement, "But the point of government is to force big business to do the right thing..." is, well, just about everything I think is scary about your vision for government and economics.

The point of government is to force us all to do the LEGAL thing, and if you think the RIGHT thing should be the LEGAL thing, then we're going to have to decide who is RIGHT about everything, and then we're going to be left with a very limited range of available possible actions.

What's the "right thing?" I'm sure you and I can agree on a list of "wrong things" that would fill reams of paper, but what is this "right thing" government is supposed to, in your worldview, force big business, and, I'm extrapolating here, all of us, to do?

Take this far enough and we'll lose the big wide open field for experimentation in commerce, technology, social behavior, etc, that distinguishes the United States and keeps us out ahead of the rest of the world in terms of tolerance, prosperity and resiliency. Start forcing people to do what you think is RIGHT and you will erode our leading competitive advantage: the relative freedom of the individual.

As someone who was forced to read Ayn Rand in high school and hated it ('Anthem') and as someone who is a moderate who's never been able to vote for a republican in his life, as someone who was FOR $15 an hour, in the phased in model, I'm more worried about the dystopian novel that starts with your post than the one that starts with this story.

So, just what is this "the right thing" you think the government is supposed to force big businesses to do?
@6: It would be easier to say that Walmart works because government interference allows it to work. Welfare benefits prop up their workers so they can underpay them. In effect, Walmart is government subsidized. If there were no social safety net (I'm not arguing for this point, just pointing it out), Walmart would have to pay its workers far higher wages because nobody is going to work a job that can't support even poverty. They'd go out in the forest and hunt, emigrate, rob the rich, etc. In my opinion, Walmart needs to pay, at the bare minimum, a wage that compensates for all the social benefits their workers receive. Right now Walmart gets the best of both worlds--socialism that feeds the families of their workers and capitalism that keeps the wages low. They need to pick one or have it forced on them.
The minimum wage is the government acting as the collective bargainer for all workers who aren't empowered by a union.

The bargaining comes in because the wealthy business owners pay for the lobbyists.
@7: Agreed, even as a believer in the power of intelligently-focused socialist policies to temper the amorality of the Almighty Market and the outright evil of some of its participants, this kind of rhetoric is not just off-putting but terrifying. Paul, we love you, you're too smart to let your righteousness get in the way of thoughtful analysis.

@9: "The minimum wage is the government acting as the collective bargainer for all workers who aren't empowered by a union." This is a terrific sound bite, and one that I would hope to hear from national politicians were it not for the terrible opinion of unions that Americans seem to have stupidly developed.

That said, when a company gets big enough, there are ways to bring pressure on them other than union representation or the heavy hand of law. Here, it seems Walmart is reacting both to the economic realities of having to attract minimally talented/motivated workers, and in part to the grass roots campaigns that have eroded their position as a Great American Company in the eyes of both their customers and their workforce. Bravo to the activists and economists and, yes, even the politicians who have made the minimum wage a national issue. This isn't a victory on the same level as successful unionization, but it's a victory nonetheless, and one that will put pressure on other businesses to raise their wages as well.
Belief in the benevolence of business is more foolish than belief in the Easter Bunny, SB. You're living proof of that.
@10 I disagree that it is a victory. The fact that the minimum wage in real dollars has fallen below the market rate just shows how ineffective current government policies are. From this point on, not raising the minimum wage is equivalent to repealing it. And it's another example of how effective the republicans are at enacting their preferred policies while engaging in political discourse in such a way as to give the impression that their opponents are winning. How many times have you heard that illegals are invading us from Mexico and taking all our jobs? Does that claim seem consistent with the fact that Walmart has to offer above min. wage to get good checkers?
I don't understand why Paul so readily concludes that Wall-Mart isn't acting because it is under pressure from its workers who are trying to unionize or because all the bad employer PR is affecting the bottom line more than it costs to make a gesture.

Or, the more logical explanation (the one that most economists are coming to), is that the labor market is getting tighter and thus employers have to pay higher wages to keep employees. There is no other reason that any corporation ever deigns to pay higher wages -- not PR, not the goodness of their hearts. They will pay as little as they can, until they can't.
@14: from the 8th dimension?
@15 - There are other reasons: Employee thefts, customer theft due to low-morale staff, lost worker-days due to contagious illness & workers coming to work sick, fatigue from working two jobs to raise a family, absenteeism, turnover, etc So basically, it costs them less to raise wages a titchy amount than it does in lost profits, lost inventory, & constant training of new staff. It's a basic cost/benefit analysis.

When profit is your only morality, as Seattleblues can attest, your employees become only calculations, not humans. Fleshy robots.
@15, 17 -- There's also the factor of spending money: If their own workers aren't even purchasing things at Walmart because they don't make enough to spend on anything but rent, food, bills & gas... then the economy winds down. As The Economist magazine put it (on their cover no less) a few years ago, the Global Economy is basically riding on the backs of the American "Consumer"(barf). If we patriotic people don't spend money, then there are fewer profits to be made. So when workers are paid too little, it's a negative drag on the economy.

Well, you'd know evil. It's what you admire, what you aspire to. And God knows you're clearly simple, so personsal experience should inform you about what that looks like. But pure? Yeah, I doubt pure is a word you've done anything but sneer at since before you hit puberty a couple years ago.

On balance if it's all the same to you I'm not worrying too much about your opinions.
@19: You care enough to log in and post a two paragraph comment about how little you care. I love how easily you show your hand when you get annoyed.

The lady doth protest too much.
@19: And yet no word from you about your alleged massive conspiracy to make sure straight white people never get protected by hate crime laws. You offered a wager; I formalized the terms. Are you going to take me up on the bet (YOUR bet, after all), or are you to much of a wuss to put your money where your mouth is?
*too much
Yeah, SB pay up or shut up.