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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Want Social Justice? Shop Wal-Mart!

How does the social justice crowd live with itself? On one hand they want policies in the US that would cost workers jobs, and freeze a lot of folks at lower wages (indexing the minimum wage).

Oh, they claim it's to help the current 1.5% of the workforce that paid that amount, but the truth is, it will end up hurting 5-10% of them as they lose their jobs. More above them will end up with their pay frozen, and pegged to the minimum wage as companies try and keep expenses for labor in line.

But even worse, the same group gets weepy eyed on TV, and crys about starving kids in Africa, south Asia, etc; then works behind the scenes to keep them starving. How? Protectionist policies supposedly designed to protect the American worker, at the expense of others in the world.

Take for example the steel tariffs that George Bush put in place to "save" 30,000 steelworker jobs in the US. Their union is still screaming for more protection, even though those same tariffs costs 225,000 machinists, metalstampers and other tradesmen their jobs due to higher steel costs.

When Motorola opened a Chinese facility, and shuttered one in Illinois many of the workers here, comparing apples to chickens, claimed the company was paying "slave wages" of $3.00 hour in China.

They don't tell you the Chinese lined up for the jobs because it was paying more per day than they could typically make in a month of farming.

William H. Overholt of RAND points out in today's Washington Post that the middle class being created in China may well be saving GM from bankrupcy by purchasing cars as fast as they are. In 20 years China will have more cars on the road than the US, but the majority made by US companies doing business there.

Other US companies are likely in the same boat, as exports to China have tripled in the last decade; meaning US jobs are provided by the expanding base Chinese consumers.

The Wal-Mart haters, another group of social justice folks, only look at once side of that issue, Wal-Mart's wages (ignoring they are in line with other retailers). They ignore the fact that their prices, when looked at through economic, not emotional terms increase the standard of living of their target audience by 5-10%.

If Wal-Mart acquiesced, and raised wages and benefits where the John Edwards of the world would like (unless he needs a PS3 or items for campaign work) the effect would either be a bunch of workers losing jobs, and probably moving to even lower wage employment; or raising prices that would lower the standard of living of the poor who shop there. Neither sounds like good policy for the poor.

So, you want social justice, and a higher standard of living for the world's poor? It's an easy thing to do, just shop at Wal-Mart, buy chinese goods, that creates a middle class there that is buying our goods.


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5Comments:

Blogger Lone Pony said...

Every time I see one of those sickening commercials about WalMart and their employees, I think, "gee I wish Bob would write a post on this and let people know the truth!"

I'm one of those poor people that shops at WalMart. I'm a new teacher, so I have to.

Have you seen the bracelet the anti-WalMart people are making? It says WWJS? (Where would Jesus shop?) It's supposed to make people think Jesus wouldn't shop at WalMart because they treat their employees so badly.

GIVE ME A BREAK! And...Thank you for this post Bob!

7:33 AM  
Blogger rachel said...

On a barely related tangent, the same thing happened to one of the Motorola plants down here. The problem was, the quality of the product from China was so bad they wound up shutting it down and moving everything to Nogales, Mexico. At least the engineers could drive to Nogales when there were problems with the production line.

4:59 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Walmart does not treat its employees badly and has no trouble finding workers.

I must respectfully disagree about Chinese made goods though. Let's just say I don't trust the Chinese enough to give them my business. They intend mischief down the road so while I will buy at Walmart, I avoid the "Made in China" label as much as possible. I will buy from other countries but avoid China.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have written many articles on the minimum wage and how it effects business the economy and employment. No one wants to hear the truth. Hearing Pres.Bush talk about it needing to be raised got me pretty upset the other day.

If You want to get a full view of how the minimum wage effects us, use the link to My Business writings on my side bar.

9:10 AM  
Blogger asacan said...

I wrote something to Senator-elect Jim Webb the other day about how raising the minimum wage will hurt pretty much all of the middle class, and won't do a damn thing for the working poor. It doesn't matter...voting for an increase in minimum wage makes them look compassionate, as if they really cared about the people earning minimum wage. They have no idea of the young workers who have worked themselves above minimum, that are just going to have all what they've earned wiped clear. I guess Congress has got to keep those people down so they can depend on Congress to give them "meaningful" raises, not the people they work for, the ones they should be loyal to.

It doesn't matter what any thinking man or woman realizes, though, or what we say to anyone, especially Congress. I'm sad to say that this is a fruitless effort.

7:56 PM  

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