Time to Be a Bad Liberal Again
I hate Wal-Mart. Shopping there is uncomfortable and awkward. One time I witnessed a family with young children walk the aisles at 3am, eating fried chicken, and dropping the bones on the ground. The Subway that is attached to our local store makes the urinal troughs at Wrigley Field look sanitary. Checking out makes me feel like a mouse trying to escape an endless maze, what with their 40+ checkout counters of which no more than 3 are ever staffed. So, yea, I hate Wal-Mart.
But you know what I hate more? What DC’s government is attempting to do to Wal-Mart.
The DC City Council is currently debating a “living wage” bill. Well, sort of. Not the “debating” part. The “living wage bill” part. Because the law would only apply to companies with corporate sales over $1 billion and operating spaces over 75,000 square feet. Oh, and a host of companies (Home Depot, Costco, Macys, etc.) will be grandfathered in while those that employ unionized workers will be exempted. Which basically means this bill applies to Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart only. And I really hate that.
I get that there is much opposition to Wal-Mart, almost all of it more principled than my own.
But as far as I know, Wal-Mart’s business model breaks no existing laws, DC or otherwise. If their business model breaks existing law, they should be prosecuted under those. Furthermore, if their practices were so objectionable to the residents of DC, surely the six stores they are building or proposing will go belly up. But that doesn’t seem to be enough. Government forces are aligning to essentially require that Wal-Mart meet standards of employment that no other employer must adhere to. And in doing so, this law offers a degree of protection to existing businesses, most of them of a similar scale to Wal-Mart. So a bill that is couched in supporting the little guy is really accomplishing nothing more than eliminating thousands of jobs, denying low-income people low-cost goods, and entrenching the privilege of other corporate behemoths, since its passage will likely result in Wal-Mart scaling back their DC footprint or pulling out entirely. Well done, fellow liberals.
[More at Memeorandum]