Thoughts on the WalMart Story …

Much has been made in recent days about the class-action discrimination suit against WalMart that was tossed out by the Supreme Court. If WalMart truly treats its employees as badly as some people claim, they are free to leave whenever they wish, or even to never take the jobs to begin with. It makes no sens that a person would stay in such an abusive situation if they had any better alternatives.

[The Ultimate pro-WalMart Article]

Here’s the rub. If people are working at WalMart (or Kodak, Target, IBM, HP, etc.) you can reasonably assume that of all the employment options available to them, they job that they took, and kept, is the best. So when you malign that opportunity, you are actually attacking the single best employment opportunity that person has.

[Why Wal-Mart Matters]

And on the argument that WalMart treats female employees unfairly. Logic again refutes this claim. If this was true, there would be a massive arbitrage opportunity for some greedy, heartless capitalist. He or she would quickly see the chance to hire these allegedly maligned people, paying them less than what they are worth, but still more than WalMart, and make a killing.

[Wal-Mart Gets the Gold Medal For Employee Safety]

We don’t necessarily love WalMart per se, we love the free-market system that (for the most part) brought about WalMart and allows it to thrive. If (when?) a competitor comes along that is more efficient and serves customers and employees better, I’ll be there instead.

Many extra links below on WalMart, enjoy.

Walmart and the Right to Discriminate – Rod Rojas: “Walmart is constantly depicted as the most heartless company in the world. People say that nothing matters to Walmart except profits. The company is accused of not having any loyalty, even to its own country. Now if this company is so ruthless, and they can hire women to do the same work for 75 cents on the dollar, why wouldn’t they jump on that golden opportunity?”

Walmart and Discrimination – Robert P. Murphy: “In the present article I won’t discuss the specific legalities of the case, as I’m not a lawyer. Rather, I will argue that standard libertarian theory says that there should be no such things as laws against ‘discrimination,’ because they are illegitimate infringements on property rights. Furthermore, in practice such laws are completely arbitrary, as it’s impossible to actually avoid discrimination. The free market provides the built-in penalties for practices that most people have in mind when they want the government to punish ‘discriminatory behavior.'”

Additional links:
Food Deserts in DC? No Problem, Let Walmart Handle It. Bonus: Thousands of New Jobs As Well
Worst anti-Walmart argument ever?
Good Economists, Bad Economists, and Walmart
Economics Prof Blasts Boston Walmart Haters, Fantastic Piece.
What Is Walmart’s Crime?

Older WalMart-Related Posts:
WalMart Update: Those B@stards Are At It Again!
Does Wal-Mart Spread Like A Virus?
BREAKING: Wal-Mart is a business!
Should The Feds Bailout WalMart or Target?
Big Labor hurts Chicagoans
Does Wal-Mart force Mexican teens to work for tips?
Can Wal-Mart Save the Economy?
An Inside Look At the Evil WalMart, and Wegmans

  • Michael E. Marotta

    The facts of the Wal-Mart case are not simply ones of market choice.  These are cultural issues.  Generally, people work where they shop and vice versa.  Wal-Mart is rural, small-town, conservative, and traditional.  The women who work there have necessarily fewer options in their lives; and that is an inheritance of culture, as well.    But the times they are a-changing.  Now, the women who work at Wal-Mart expect the same opportunities they would enjoy as fashion designers and merchandising consultants in New York City.  I find it sad that people who claim to believe in freedom defend discrimination as if it were a matter of butter over margarine.  People who discriminate on the basis of race, sex, and religion are idiots.  We need to call them that.  Ayn Rand’s famous essay on racism totally destroyed any moral standing for such discrimination.  You have the right to ruin yourself with debilitating carousing; but no rational person would defend such an act.  Does the state have a duty to intervene?  It is an interesting question – and a different consideration entirely. It is a fallacy to claim that whatever people “freely choose” must be their best outcome.  Austrian economists have been publishing their opinions for over 100 years and yet few seem convinced.  In fact, given a choice, people overwhelmingly choose options contrary to the Austrian prescriptions.  Therefore, it is clear that Austrians should stop wasting their time.  (At least, this is one view. And of course, you are free to do what you want with your own time.) People choose on the basis of their knowledge.  We advance by extending and expanding that body of information, fact, and theory.