Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” The Founding Fathers alleged many times that liberty would not work unless they had a morally righteous citizens, and well-informed intelligent citizens. Part of economic liberty and the free market, and the way to ensure it works, runs by unwritten rules. It assumes that people will take responsibility for their own negative actions.
According to studies done by the Huffington Post and other sources, it can be estimated that almost one half of Wal-Mart employees live off of public assistance because their wages are too low to function in today’s society (food costs, rent costs, etc.). As a result, the petite bourgeoisie, middle-middle class, and blue-collar working-class fund the public assistance through tax dollars for employees of a one-percenter, the Walton family. The Waltons are number six on Forbes list of American billionaires, and yet the middle classes have to fund the survival of their proletariat abyss.
The behavior of the Walton family is inherently no different than a man who impregnates a woman, and abandons her and the child, causing the child and its mother (in many situations) to require a subsidized income from the taxpayers. The father’s behavior is now at the expense of everyone else. The child’s father cannot just walk away and say “oh, don’t infringe on my liberty,” and neither should the Waltons (and other shareholders) be able to.
In the United States, the Founding Fathers intended for a particular code of ethics to be followed. Keep in mind that ethics is not synonymous with morality. It should be assumed that a free market capitalist will practice ethics by taking responsibility for his actions, cleaning up after himself, and taking care of his workers as needed. This has nothing to do with either social justice or human rights, but is simply a civic responsibility to prevent a burden on society. Here is the economic libertarian argument in favor of self-regulation, and eventually raising of the minimum wage.
No matter how many times an Ayn Rand libertarian simply screams, “economic liberty, economic liberty,” or “the Walton family owes nobody higher wages in a free market,” we are still living in the cynical real world that exists as of now. And in this world, the reality is that the middle classes are paying for the public assistance of Wal-Mart employees because the shareholders and executives do not want to raise their wage. Forbes list billionaires are embezzling money from the working US taxpayer. That means that the Waltons are objectively a parasite on the economy.
Of course there are many other things that must be taken into account for the bigger picture. Raising wages always inevitably means raising prices, no matter what. Wage-raising means nothing, because the product purchased will take the same percent from the wage as it did when the wage was low. It causes inflation. Many Ayn Rand fanboys and Austrian economists would also make the argument that, “the Waltons pay so much in taxes for people’s food stamps that they can’t afford to pay workers any more. If food stamps were cut, they would pay more.” This is an issue involving serious mathematical analysis of markets and economics and cannot be fixed with a simple world view, whether it is blind faith in Atlas Shrugged or the bleeding heart of a social justice activist.
Well Atlas has not shrugged as of yet, and public assistance is not going away anytime soon. Until it does go away, then all capitalist bosses who underpay their workers causing them to get on public assistance, must be viewed as economic parasites, and the enemy of economic liberty and the middle classes. This is not small mom-and-pop business, but big, heavily regulated corporations, especially Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.
Just because a capitalist SHOULD do something does not mean that the Federal government should MAKE him do something. Here is an example of the civic responsibility of a successful capitalist. If a worker breaks his leg on the job, that capitalist employer should pay to fix his leg, so the worker he can get back to work, and provide for himself. A.S.A.P. If the capitalist just says “oh sorry… it’s economic liberty,” then the worker will get let go, will get on public assistance, and will objectively become a burden on the taxpayer. But that capitalist who caused that situation is the far greater parasite.
Costco is known to pay their workers a fairly high wage. They also sell more expensive, high quality products wholesale. That is simply called a high standard of living. A well-paid worker buying a well-made product. This is also known as a first world economy. You can be an economic capitalist and still a social collectivist. McDonalds and Wal-Mart produce a third world product. As a result, they pay a third world wage, they sell to third world markets, and create a third world society. They deteriorate American society and make it rot. In order to make a little extra profit, Wal-Mart and McDonalds are literally willing to let the US devolve into a cesspool.
There are many different ideologies on the left and the right who support this idea. Just because a market is free does not mean the market is free to take a dump everywhere and turn society into a cesspool for the sake of “economic liberty”. For example, Dr. Ron Paul, as would be expected of someone his age, believes in American-made, and an end to outsourcing. That does not mean he believes in federal regulations enforcing that scenario, but it is still the world he WANTS to see. Pat Buchanan, who identifies as paleoconservative instead of libertarian, believes in US non-intervention, closed borders, and economic nationalism. He ran for president unsuccessfully on the Reform Party ticket in 2000, like Ross Perot did in 1996, who also cannot be called a libertarian. On what is known as the “far right fringe,” or ultra-nationalism, there is great hatred towards free markets, libertarianism, Ayn Rand, and borderless capitalism, mostly due to illegal immigration, outsourcing, and backroom corporate deals with China.
One such capitalist from the 20th century was Mr. Henry Ford, a right-wing extremist with voluntarily progressive economic practices. Henry Ford is well-known for his paranoid rants about “the Jews” infiltrating labor unions to bring the communist revolution to the US, as was a typical canard from the era. The way he dealt with his Red Scare paranoia, however, was peculiar, yet constructive. He began paying his workers at the motor plants higher wages, so he could build a product that his workers could afford. He wanted to give the communist-infiltrated unions no excuse to organize and agitate on his plant grounds. As a result, he could not be the evil, greedy capitalist they wanted to paint him as. With happy, well-paid workers, professional labor leaders from communist or socialist organizations had no audience at Ford’s motor plant.
The libertarian in me knows all too well that Wal-Mart and McDonalds are ALREADY meeting the tax bracket and red tape that federal regulations are throwing up, which kill mom-and-pop businesses in record numbers. Progressives must understand that just “raising the minimum wage”, because their hearts bleed for human rights will not be a long-term solution. The populist in me however, realizes that corporate shareholders evading a living wage is not a long-term solution either. Any Atlas Shrugged disciple who puts the “economic liberty” of the Waltons above the well-being of the working-middle classes who have to pay taxes for Wal-Mart employees’ public assistance is just as delusional and ignorant as liberal activists who support policy based on emotion.