Tampa You’ve said it before, I know you have, and so have I. When it snows on the 4th of July, then so and so will happen, whatever might fit the most outrageous description imaginable. The Red Sox will win the Series. The White Sox will make it to the World Series. New Orleans will be flooded and destroyed. You know — things out of the ordinary that will just never, never happen.
Well, Wal-Mart and its CEO Lee Scott have now come out and publicly asked the government to raise the minimum wage which has been stuck now for most 10 years at $5.15 per hour. The New York Times buried the announcement, clearly dismissing the call as cynical. The Wall Street Journal which monitors revolutionary activity and pronouncements more closely ran the announcement as a separate article all by itself. They were not confused about whether the “green” stuff was the lead. They knew the tide was changing if the poster child for 21st Century globalism and capitalism, Wal-Mart, was breaking ranks and calling for a minimum wage increase.
Scott and the smiley face gang were smart, too. They claimed they were saying this because they could see that their customers were hurting for certain. Some cynical wags — once again in the Journal — claimed that Wal-Mart might have been trying to gig its competitors because it felt an increase in the minimum wage would hurt them more than Wal-Mart. This is actually not really true. It is based on the wholesale toadying of the corporate press in believing, hook, line and sinker every Wal-Mart press release about what it says it pays its workers. I was in meetings in Florida today with WARN and the Wal-Mart Workers Association, which are going to bust that story to kingdom come in coming weeks, but that will be another story…
What surprised me is that I can’t figure out exactly when the company actually looked up from the cash register long enough to see the hurting faces of its customers? What did they look at for the first 10 years it the minimum wage has been frozen?
If I were in Congress though I would think twice though at this point, because if Wal-Mart can figure out the minimum wage needs to be raised, then what’s their excuse for total blindness to the impact of frozen wages on low income workers in America?
October 26, 2005