Libertarians will often protest taxes, claiming that you can’t “force charity.” Charity, they say, isn’t the domain of the government; it’s the domain of the private sector. Well, an Oklahoma City Walmart has taken that to heart, and is showing how the Free Market© does charity — by asking its employees to donate food to help their coworkers make ends meet during the holiday season.
The sign on their collection bin reads, “Let’s succeed by donating to associates in need!!!”
The photo, which was posted by the labor-backed coalition Making Change At Walmart, was released by an anonymous employee Thursday who works at the Walmart. They remain anonymous to avoid retaliation from the company, according to representatives of Making Change. This isn’t the first time that the company’s drawn fire for their questionable practices towards their employees, either; the company held a similar food drive for their employees a year ago, and characterized the efforts as “part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships.”
What we’re seeing here is the beginning of Soviet-style collectivism, and I am darkly amused that the Free Market® — that is, the Dungeons and Dragons-style economics of the Austrian and Chicago schools — produced this.
Walmart, after all, gets away with this by shoving the burden off on the taxpayer. They subsidize their low wages using public assistance programs; by some estimates, a single superstore can incur up to $1.7 million in public assistance spending every year, and the chain as a whole nets $6.2 billion.
There are two real kickers here: first, Walmart could probably support its employees with a “living” wage without raising prices by more than a few cents. That they don’t is proof alone that market forces aren’t the only things impacting wages. If there were no taxpayers, the company probably wouldn’t change a thing about how it does business, which means that 1.4 million Americans — a total of 1% of the American work force — would be forced into an existence that’s substandard even by the standards of American poverty. Walmart would probably implode as a result, and so would a number of other businesses that depend on people shopping there, and at least 1.4 million Americans would suddenly find themselves without a job, freezing and starving to death in an attempt to recreate the Holodomor.
That’s called a “success” in Libertopia.
The second kicker is that Walmart uses charity as a pretense for political donations. Their corporate charity, called Associates in Critical Need Fund, made headlines recently because the company was used it to lure corporate employees to chip into the company political action committee, or PAC. Any time a white-collar Walmart worker made a voluntary PAC contribution, the Walmart Treasury gave twice that to the struggling workers.
Because, you know, cutting all that out and raising wages would force the company to raise their costs.
If you believe that, I know of a particular government-sponsored lich who occupies a dungeon with a horde of gold that needs slaying, Paladin of the Free Market.