Shame on Wal-Mart?

Forget that Wal-Mart employs 1.3 million people in the U.S. alone. Forget that it saves consumers billions of dollars each year on retail purchases. Forget that its employees, on average, earn about double the minimum wage. The word from some disgruntled employees is that Wal-Mart doesn’t treat its employees “fairly” – whatever that’s supposed to mean.

But, guess what? If you think Wal-Mart is “unfair”… you don’t have to shop there.

Wow! What a novel idea! If you don’t like the fact that Wal-Mart carries too many products made in third-world countries, shop with your feet. If you believe Wal-Mart puts smaller retailers out of business and you’re unhappy with that, shop with your feet.

That said, let’s get back to Wal-Mart’s employees.

Just to make it easy on the witch hunters, let’s assume that there is such a thing as absolute fairness. (There isn’t.) And let’s further assume that Wal-Mart does, indeed, treat its employees unfairly. Keep in mind that if someone chooses to work at Wal-Mart, he’s doing so because he believes, for whatever reason, that it affords him the best opportunity to be adequately compensated for his skills, experience, and efforts.

An employer doesn’t ask a job applicant to present a list of his job requirements when he submits his application. On the contrary, the employer lets the applicant know, in advance, what the company’s conditions of employment are.

If those conditions include 15-hour workdays, minimum-wage pay, no air-conditioning in the summer, and no paid sick leave, so be it. How can I say such a dastardly thing? Because an employee not only does not have to take such a job, he also has the right to quit that job at any time. He is free to choose!

Yep, it really is that easy. And since the unhappy employee is free, he can apply for another job anywhere he likes. No permission needed. On the other hand, if he chooses to stay in his present job, he is making a clear statement that he believes it’s the best job he can hope to get. If that’s not true, he would be insane, or perhaps masochistic, to stay put.

In a truly free society, everything works smoothly because both employers and employees are free to make their own choices. Unfair treatment of employees would never be an issue, because workers would be free to sell their services for the highest possible wages on the open market. It’s only when government bureaucrats or labor thugs – a.k.a. “labor unions” – enter the picture that freedoms are violated.

All government intervention between employers and employees results in infringements on the rights of one or the other – or both. The same goes with labor unions. The so-called “union shop” is a violation of the natural rights of every employee who is forced to join a union against his will. And, worse, it is a violation of the rights of an employer to hire who he wants, when he wants, for whatever reasons are important to him.

Unfortunately, that’s not reality in today’s America. After decades of artificially high wages and benefits, job-protection schemes, and government-mandated safety standards, spoiled American workers demand still more.

An excellent investment for Wal-Mart would be to spend mega-millions to educate its employees about the morality and efficacy of liberty and laissez-faire economics. And a good place to start would be to put the following quote from Rose Wilder Lane in their pay envelopes:

“Anyone who says that economic security is a human right has been too much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting diseases and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god – Society, The State, The Government, The Commune – must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.”

Educating muddled minds, however, does not begin with the worker; it begins with big business. If corporate America does not truly believe in laissez-faire capitalism, all is lost. And if it does believe but is unwilling to suffer “mortification of the flesh” in presenting the truth to the public, the case for free enterprise is still all but hopeless.

Corporate leaders must be bold and unwavering when it comes to educating their own employees, as well as the public at large, about the mechanics of the marketplace. History has clearly taught us what to expect if good men do nothing.

In the meantime, don’t wait for corporate America to come to your rescue. Take every opportunity you can get to extol the virtues of freedom – including free enterprise. It’s true that you are but one person in a sea of millions, but it is completely within your power to be part of the solution to the world’s ills rather than part of the problem.

The millions you hope to make in the coming years won’t be of much good to you if the titanic battle for liberty is lost. Think about it.

[Ed. Note: You can exercise your freedom right now – just by starting your own business. ETR’s business-building experts have put together an “Internet Success Library” that will walk you through each and every step of creating a successful business on the Internet. Learn how to get your own income stream up and running right here.]

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. He has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, The Lars Larson Show, ABC Nightline, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.