By Manifesto Joe
I got a little hot under the collar reading a recent story that quoted Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon as saying that if Wal-Mart employees "can go to another company and another job and make more money and develop, they'll be better. It'll be better for the economy. It'll be better for us as a business, to be quite honest, because they'll continue to advance in their economic life."
This from the CEO of a company that pays its employees an average of $8.90 an hour, and forces many to go on food stamps and rent subsidies and low-income children's health programs such as CHIP. And you, the taxpayer, are subsidizing this company, to the tune of $86 million in California alone.
Here's a link to the article. And here's another link to a story about how much this company's predatory practices are costing the taxpayers.
Even more unfortunately, Wal-Mart isn't the only company that engages in low-wage exploitation of desperate workers. It's a prevalent practice in the fast-food industry. Not long ago McDonald's had to wipe egg (McMuffin?) off its face and alter a website where they had the gall to offer advice on how much its poverty-stricken employees should tip an au pair. It would appear that Ronald isn't the only clown who works for McDonald's.
This chipping away at the American middle class hasn't happened by accident. It is the widespread shortsightedness of Corporate America that is doing this.
Henry Ford, certainly no progressive, at least knew one thing about Economics 101: He paid his workers enough money for them to be able to actually buy the product they were making. This is a simple lesson that appears to be totally lost on 21st-century Corporate America.
Karl Marx was pretty clearly wrong about a lot of things, but I can spot one thing that he did see with great clarity. Amid many bids to reform capitalism, it has a nasty habit of reverting back to its original, primitive form.
Americans, in their stoicism and general acceptance of the so-called free market, will put up with this reversion for a very long time. I don't expect to see this New Gilded Age end while I'm alive, since I'm pushing 58 and have health issues.
But there comes a time, anywhere, when people get desperate enough to just start TAKING what they need. I don't see capitalism as likely to survive into the 22nd century, at least not in its current form. An economy has to be for the many, not just for the few. And that is a lesson that I think Corporate America has long forgotten, and will be forced to relearn just a bit too late.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.