Friday, February 20, 2015

Walmart not raising minimum wage to be 'nice'

Walmart workers and supporters protest the company in Los Angeles. (photo: Marc Goumbri)
Walmart workers and supporters protest the company in Los Angeles. (photo: Marc Goumbri)

Walmart Raising the Minimum Wage Isn't a Triumph of Business. It's a Failure of Government

By Paul Constant, The Stranger
20 February 15
epublicans are big believers in letting business lead the way for America. That's exactly what happened today: Republicans in Congress have been so derelict in their duties that big business is effectively raising the minimum wage for them. Walmart has announced that they're raising their minimum wage to nine dollars an hour this year, and ten dollars an hour next year. Let's be clear: Walmart isn't doing this to be "nice." It's not because it's the "right thing to do." It is the bare minimum, the literal very least they could do. They're doing this because the minimum wage in America is so low that it's affecting the bottom line of their business. Workers are getting sick and going broke. Walmart employees are unable to feed their families, so they're working multiple jobs—to the point where their productivity is suffering. President Obama has called for a minimum wage increase on multiple occasions, but Republicans in Congress have done nothing. They're letting America fall apart, in the hopes that big business will put it back together again.

But the point of government is to force big business to do the right thing, not the other way around. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation and worker productivity, the minimum wage in America would right now be higher than Walmart will be paying next year. You can be sure that Walmart is not paying a penny more than they need to resolve their staffing crises; it's government's job to make sure that workers are being fairly compensated for their time. But government is willfully neglecting its duty, and so now we live in a country where Walmart is praised for making a gesture toward fairness.

The thing that bugs the hell out of me in all this is that slimy Ayn Rand-loving Republicans like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul are going to point to Walmart's "generosity" as a sign that business can regulate itself. That's not what this is. This is business cleaning up the mess left by an inattentive and uncaring government. The American worker doesn't even figure into this story, except as a blunt instrument. When I look at this story, all I see is the beginning of a dystopian novel. 


+8 # backwards_cinderella 2015-02-20 11:28
Believe me, $10 an hour is still not enough to live on. It's enough to lose all your benefits & be worse off than you were before.
0 # HowardMH 2015-02-20 13:30
For sure and Wonderful Save the World from economic disaster Walmart with more of the richest people in the world that own the company than any other company on the planet is giving their FULL TIME Employees a 15 cent raise. What a fucking joke Walmart is!
+5 # MEBrowning 2015-02-20 11:53
The current crop of do-nothing Republicans in Congress are not "government." If they were "government," they would be working together to "promote the general welfare," as it says in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Instead, these a$$es are continuing to "drag [government] into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," as Grover Norquist promised. Anyone who votes Republican these days is deluded, seditious or brain-dead. Voting Democratic shows a little more enlightenment, but as we've seen from Sen. Ron Wyden and others, they have to be closely watched as well.
+5 # angelfish 2015-02-20 11:57
The sheer greed of the Waltons and the Koch brother and others of their ilk have brought this country to it's knees. It amazes me that more voices have not been raised in outrage over their penury considering the fact that they are two of the Wealthiest families in the WORLD! I don't understand WHY they are so GREEDY and Self-serving. It, in my opinion, goes against human nature to be so oblivious or indifferent to the misery their tight-fistednes s is causing, not only their employees but the ENTIRE Country! They are loosening their purse-string now, ONLY because they realize it is unhealthy for their bottom line! It is cold comfort to realize that it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for ANY of them to enter the gates of Heaven. However, it IS comforting to envision the slow flames over which they ALL will roast, in Hell!

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