Chris Powell: Low prices vs . high pay



Money manager, cable television commentator and former Connecticut U.S. Senate 
candidate Peter Schiff undertook a cute stunt the other day to counter the 
clamor for a higher minimum wage and the clamor against big, bad Walmart. 

With a video camera recording him, Schiff walked around the parking lot of a 
Walmart store purporting to represent a group he called “15 for 15” that seeks 
to persuade Walmart to put a 15 percent surcharge on its prices to pay for 
raising the minimum wage of its employees to $15 per hour. Instead of "Low 
Prices Every Day," Schiff said, Walmart could change its motto to "High Wages 
Every Day." 

But as he surely anticipated, Schiff found no shoppers interested in paying 
higher prices to underwrite higher wages for Walmart employees. The shoppers who 
talked with Schiff said they felt pressed financially themselves. 

That is, Walmart isn't Neiman Marcus or even Sears. Rather, Walmart is where 
people shop to save money, and Walmart stores are busiest in the hours after 
welfare and Food Stamp debit cards get recharged by government agencies. 

If many Walmart employees aren't earning much, many Walmart shoppers aren't 
earning much more, and many aren't making anything at all beyond what they get 
in government stipends. 

If Walmart is too profitable for some tastes, it's still subject to the same 
labor and tax rules covering all other companies, and of course nobody has to 
shop there. Indeed, complaints about the supposed greed of corporations, their 
cutting labor costs and moving from high- to low-tax jurisdictions, are only 
reflections of human nature and individual interest. 

Shoppers want low prices just as stock investors want high prices, and while 
most people are ready to tell others what to do with their money, they are not 
so ready to be told themselves. 

* * * 

Now the thought police are prosecuting thought crime in America. Because he 
remarked in a magazine interview that he considers homosexuality sinful and "not 
logical," the A&E television network has suspended an actor in the program "Duck 

So are people really once again to be disqualified from employment on account of 
their mere opinions and politics, as they were during the Red Scares of the 
1920s and 1950s? 

Homosexuals long were a persecuted minority, but now that society is becoming 
more libertarian, what entitles those who are gaining dominance in opinion to 
persecute those who disagree? 

Must the price of political incorrectness include even denial of a chance to 
work and make a living? Do the opinions of actors really matter that much? 

It's not as if this particular actor is oppressing anyone or advocating 
oppression. All he did was express his opinion -- an opinion shared more or less 
by the recent bishops of Rome, whom no one proposed to fire or suspend though 
many disagreed with them. 

Power corrupts and the political left has become just as totalitarian as the 
political right used to be. 

* * * 

But big media always get a pass from the political left. The other day 
Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, was trivializing his 
office again for a little publicity, stuck in his habit from 20 years as state 
attorney general, urging the manufacturers of the Red Bull and Rockstar 
caffeine-loaded beverages to remove their product emblems from children's toys. 

Meanwhile mass shootings by the deranged, like the one a year ago in Newtown, 
are proliferating, likely inspired in part by the prurient gunplay pervading 
television, movies, and video games. But political criticism of that stuff has 
faded to almost nothing. 

Instead, Republicans are defending the constitutional right of any psychopath to 
own military weapons, and Democrats are getting too much campaign money from 
Hollywood to notice its poisoning of the culture. No, what worries Blumenthal is 
the caffeine industry. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.