in defense of… Wal-Mart?
Okay, okay. So Wal-Mart doesn’t really need my defense. And to be honest, defending Wal-Mart doesn’t exactly give me butterflies. However, so often we are reminded of the evils of big corporations, and many times Wal-Mart is used as a prime example. Here’s why you’re wrong, Wal-Mart haters.
1. Wal-Mart uses foreign slave labor
We’ve all heard the horrible stories of people in foreign countries, including children, slaving away for peanuts. But on this issue, we must ask the question: is Wal-Mart forcing its workers to labor – be it long hours, or poor conditions, or low wages – at the point of a gun? Or are its workers choosing to continue their employment, whatever the terms may be, voluntarily? The truth is, these workers are voluntarily choosing to work these jobs because they are better than the alternative. The alternative may be even lower-paying jobs, even poorer conditions, even longer hours, or maybe even lack of employment altogether, leading to starvation.
2. Wal-Mart kills small business
When Wal-Mart infiltrates a new area, the trend seems to be that smaller “mom and pop” stores offering the same products are slowly run out of town because they can’t compete. There is a key phrase in that sentence: they can’t compete. Wal-Mart has found ways to offer its products cheaper, more efficiently, and more extensively. But if the people of that area truly care about small business, they always retain the strongest economic weapon: they can vote with their dollar. Many times communities will attempt to legislate against construction of a new Wal-Mart. Besides being blatantly un-Constitutional, this is among the highest forms of elitism, as it is a blatant snub against the voice of the people; that is, it is an attempt to say that a small group of people should overrule the voice (or the dollar) of the many.
3. Wal-Mart treats their employees badly
Okay, so, there is a laundry list of accusations against Wal-Mart and its treatment of employees. This includes:
- Low Wages
- Lack of Healthcare Benefit
- The Dead Peasant Policy
- Gender Discrimination
As you can see, Wal-Mart is no Mother Teresa. So what is the resolution? See #1 and #2. The employees have willingly agreed to work there, and the patrons have willingly agreed to shop there. If you Google “anti-walmart legislation“, you will find millions of hits, covering numerous attempts to legislate against this thing or that thing that the evil Wal-Mart has (or has not) done. The fact is, corporations like Wal-Mart should not be dealt with by legislation; they should be dealt with by the market.
Again, all of these points can be applied to [pick your corporation]. One interesting/popular qualm is that Wal-Mart seems to be “above the law” sometimes. However, this is not so much a failure of Wal-Mart as it is a case of government nepotism (or at least government incompetence), curable by a heavy dose of voter enlightenment/understanding/responsibility, which in turn forces accountability.