Left wing groups are ramping up for “street theater” protests at retail stores this Black Friday. If prior years are any indication of the group’s projected success this year, we can expect a handful of union thugs showing up at a handful of Walmart stores, with a few mass-printed signs. As reported by the Free Beacon:
“The fight against income inequality in this country starts at Walmart,” said Brooke Anderson of Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. “we are proud to stand with Walmart workers this Black Friday to speak out for the fair pay and the respect workers deserve.”
Before diving into the lunacy of union-sponsored protests (at non-union stores such as Walmart), let me say upfront that I am no fan of America’s busiest shopping day.
In fact, I hate Black Friday. Under normal circumstances, I would rather grind sand paper against my forehead than stand in a line with thousands of people for a “50 percent off” flat screen television. Being forced to interact with the lunacy, hostility, and rabid bargain-grabbing shoppers would only serve to erase the feelings of thanks and goodwill built up by the prior day’s over-indulgence in turkey and cranberry relish.
And yet, not an ounce of my angst for Black Friday is rooted in an objection to corporatism or profiteering. I love making money. I love it when other people make money. Heck, I even like spending money. . . I just don’t like crowds. But then I hear about people who hate Black Friday just as much as I do, because they feel sorry for the retail workers. Apparently, I am supposed to hate Black Friday for the same reason that OUR Walmart hates corporate America: “Businesses put profits before people.”
Yeah . . . It’s not a whole lot of fun working the day after Thanksgiving. But there is nothing intrinsically evil about a corporation’s desire to make money on socially “inconvenient” days. After all, there is a reason businesses are opening at 3:00 AM on Black Friday (or 6:00 PM Thanksgiving Day). . . It’s because there is, apparently, a demand for manic shopping sprees. Consumer demand always wins the day because, in the end, they keep the rest of the world employed.
Which brings us to the issue of retailers, and their union-sympathizing opponents. While the Union activists like to berate Walmart executives, and decry their “corporatist” greed, they overlook the two most important contributing factors to low wages: Consumers, and employees.
As the insanity of Black Friday clearly demonstrates: Americans love low prices. No, seriously. They trample each other after camping out on the side walk most of Thanksgiving Day to get their hands on the latest “door buster” sales. Heck, last year some stores turned into America’s version of Pamplona Spain’s running of the bulls when several people were injured at big box stores across the country.
Of course, such low prices can only be guaranteed by relatively low overhead (read: wages). Even the most benevolent CEOs still want to make profits. I mean, profits are kinda the reason for opening a business in the first place. And as retailers increase their profits, they are able to expand operations (employing more people) and potentially increase wages for their best employees.
But employees are not exactly free of responsibility for their low wages either. (I hate to place all the blame on those nuts who love money-saving deals and everyday-value.) After all, I know of zero Walmart employees who are classified on their HR worksheet as a “slave”. Employment is merely the free exchange of money for someone’s labor and time. By accepting employment, the employee is agreeing that their wage is more valuable than the time they would otherwise have available to them. And, in the event that an employee feels their labor is being under-compensated by management, they can get another job. (Easier than it sounds if you are currently employed as unskilled labor at a major retail chain.) After all, it’s not as if Walmart employees are the lead acrobat in a Cirque De Solei event. Their “skill” set is not exactly a “niche” ability.
But this free exchange of wages for labor is what our union “protestors” don’t get. A Walmart job, like a minimum wage job at McDonalds or Burger King, is not supposed to be a peak-employment opportunity for the average American. The job is supposed to be a stepping stone to other opportunities. That’s why we call it a job, and not a career. Certainly, you can move up within the company’s ranks and create a career if your heart desires. . . But no one should be pushing carts, flipping burgers, or greeting Black Friday shoppers for the rest of their lives.
Unions, however, often feel that all employees are entitled to live a career-level lifestyle without the hassle of first building a career. They don’t seem to understand that the only reason a wage is paid, is because there is a qualified and competent person willing to accept that wage.
So, for those of you who have to work on the busiest shopping day of the year, my sincerest condolences. I pray that your sanity is not stripped from you by the mad mobs of bargain hunters expected to be prowling the malls. Such craziness, however, is merely a cost of your employment.
As for you loony folks who engage in the insanity of camping out at Best Buy for discounted electronics: God bless you in your foolish endeavor. I will never understand you, but I admire your zealous grasp of the consumer-spirit on America’s busiest shopping day.
And as for you handful of misguided souls who feel the need to picket a busy retail establishment in protest of market-driven wages: Remember that you will actually be doing more to increase the potential wages of Walmart employees by contributing to Walmart’s profits. . . So put down the picket sign and go buy that discounted gaming console.