Wal-Mart, "Sweat Shops," and the American Dream

Strategy teaches you how to improve your position. Knowing more about strategy than your immediate rivals improves your own chances of success, but spreading the knowledge of strategy improves everyone chances of success. As taught by Sun Tzu, competition is not a zero-sum game. It is about everyone moving themselves into positions where they can produce and receive the most value. This leads us to a discussion about how, in opposing the American dream, the elites hurt us all and make the world a poorer place. Following up on my last post about the destruction of the American dream by portraying success as evil, I refer you to this recent article by George Will about Wal-Mart.  In the opinion of the vociferous elites, Wal-mart must pay its employees more. Representing those elites, the Chicago city council passed an ordinance to force Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits.  Meanwhile, back among us lesser mortals in the real world, more than 25,000 people applied for the 325 openings at a new suburban Chicago Wal-Mart. In the opinion of regular people like you and me, Wal-mart's pay package is better than good. In the not-so-celebrated opinion of 25,000 Chicago area residents, Wal-marts pay package was the best available to them. However, according to the elites, these people should NOT have the opportunity to work at Wal-mart under those terms. Wal-mart is evil for offering it to them and Wal-mart's evil opportunities must be stopped by the force of law. While the elites claim that they are championing these poor, potential Wal-mart employees, the opposite is true. If Wal-mart raises their wages, they must also have to raise their standards. The 325 people who won those Chicago Wal-mart jobs would be replaced by other people, people with more training, education and experience, who currently hold good jobs. And there wouldn't be 325 jobs. The number would be closer to 250 because each person would be more capable and expected to do more. The indviduals who ended up with the 250 jobs wouldn't be those from the bottom of the economic pile who apply at Wal-mart now. Instead, Wal-mart would employ people who already hold a good paying job elsewhere in the economy. How productive is that? The elites forget there are people out there who are starting at the bottom of the economic pile and need to get a foot on the first rung of the ladder toward a better future. Elites judge everyone else's position by an elite standard. By raising the minimum wage, elites raise the height of that first step for regular people. They force employers not to use people who need more guidance and training in a job. They force employers to eliminate jobs, through automation like self-checkout system, or reorganization depending on less management. When elites make it harder for people to get that first foot on the ladder up, eleites make it impossible for these low-skilled workers to move up that ladder on their merits. Elites make it impossible for low-skilled workers to learn better work habits and get trained for better jobs. Elites make it impossible for low-skilled workers to change and improve. Elites make it impossible for employers to invent new, low-skilled, entry level jobs. In the process, elites make the entire world poorer. And, because they export this thinking, I do mean the whole world. Wal-Mart creates about 100 jobs in their stores for every 50 retail jobs they destroy among their competitors. Like McDonald's, it serves as a vast training ground for people getting started in the labor force. These people know who they are and know what their options are. These low-skilled workers don't need the elites disparaging their choices and taking away their opportunities in an effor to "help" them. What is true in America, where choices would still be good, though much poorer, without  Wal-mart or McDonald's, is even truer outside of the United States where choices are much rarer. Elites don't understand the American dream and how the world wants to participate in it. In the mind of the elites, success is evil and wealth is evil. Elites hate the way success is created indescriminately in a free economy. They had that one person's success, in the case, the success of a little nobody from the backward state of Arkansas named John Walton, creates more potential success for a whole group of people who couldn't care less about the opinions of elites.  Wal-Mart accounted for 13 percent of the nation's productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s. The productivity benefited everyone in America, but it most benefited those who work and shop at Wal-mart. By portraying people like Walton as evil, the elites can portray the opportunities that these people create as evil as well. How can organizations who do as much objective good as Wal-mart be made to appear evil? These good people who create real success in the real world providing real value to real customers are compared to the imaginary perfect people who spring from articulate fantasies of the elites. These imaginary people can pay the highest wages to the poorest, least trained people and still stay in business. These imaginarhy people can produce energy and raw materials like magic from the ether itself, without affecting the natural environment in any way, and produce that energy and materials at prices that everyone can afford, so cheaply in fact, that most product can be provided free of charge. These imaginary people have a mystical control over their customers, forcing them to make only those buying decisions that are good for them. Of course, to the elites, these imaginary perfect people are not imaginary at all. They are the elites themselves if given control of the government. The only majic they need is the magic power of the law. After all, the government can pay great wages to poorly trained people because taxes give it infinite resources. The government can pass laws that at one time protect the environment, control prices, provide the necessities of life to everyone, and force everyone to make buying decisions that are good for them. Having enacted so many parts of their plan, they know it is possible if evil individuals would just stop persuing personal success and turn over all control to them. Elites seek to use their control of the government to trump the opinions of common people who want to work and shop at Wal-mart. The elites do not care about the real options of real people in the real world. They do not care about the process by which better options are created. They do not care about giving people the freedom to make their own judgment about what jobs are in their best interest. The elites only care about their own opinions and how those opinions enhance their image and their sense of moral superiority. As the American dream js spread throughout the world, the elites must attack the "sweat shops" that are giving regular people the world over more and more opportunities. As these people flock to these "sweat shops" to escape generations of grinding poverty in agriculture, the elites raise the alarm that people in these factories work "long" hours for "low" wages, but the yardstick they use is an elitist one. For the people who are attracted by the tens of millions to these opportunities, the hours are great and the wages tremendous. Of course, these people are making the comparison to the real options availabe to them in the real world. These real conditions are beneath the consideration of the idealistic elites. Like the opportunities for regular American created by Wal-Mart, the elites must attack the opportunities created by Nike and Intel and thousand of other American manufacturers in places like Indonesia or China or Latin America. In giving the forgotten people of the world more opportunities, more training, and more earning potential, these companies are transforming the world at a tremendous rate. They are putting more and more people on the ladder where they can imagine their own success. These sweat shop jobs are transforming ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. In increasing the personal productivity and wealth of individuals, these organizations are increasing the productivity and wealth of the world.