Washington, D.C.'s 'Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule'
The engineers of social justice are at it again. In our nation's capital, the mayor recently vetoed a bill, passed by the City Council, targeting Walmart for the audacity to hope that it could quietly provide jobs, earn a profit, and serve the communities to which it made voluntary civic commitments. In a teachable moment, D.C.'s leftist legislature exposed the left's hatred of the free market in general, its allegiance to unions, and a willingness to practice blatant extortion dressed up as "justice" for the citizens of the District of Columbia. It is a liberal trifecta. Meanwhile, the D.C. City Council ramps up to try again.
Some history is in order. Back in November 2010, Walmart announced plans to open four stores in the District of Columbia. Anyone familiar with the problems besetting the District, or any liberal-controlled city, understands what a Godsend this was. A year later, the company enlarged its plans to six stores, providing as many as 1,800 retail employment positions in a city with serious unemployment problems, not to mention a dearth of stores providing copious amounts of merchandise at reasonable prices to its low-income populace. The package of stores would generate at least 600 construction jobs and $15 million in tax revenues.
The legislated minimum wage in the District is and was $8.25. Though it did not need to do so by law, Walmart entered into something called the Community Partnership Initiative in November of 2011, in which it agreed to a number of significant commitments to the District. Among those, Walmart agreed to contribute $21 million to local charities, it agreed to create a workforce development program focusing on low-income and at-risk residents, it agreed to the use of local small and minority-owned businesses for store construction, and it agreed to $2 million in transportation improvements.
It was not until after Walmart had already commenced and nearly finished construction of several stores, thereby substantially solidifying its commitment to the plan, that the City Council of the District of Columbia sprang its trap. It introduced the Large Retailer Accountability Act, under which non-unionized retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion and more than 75,000 square feet of space will be singled out to pay a minimum wage of $12.50, which the D.C. thought police call "a living wage." Walmart was the only target in sight. They suspended plans to continue with construction of stores not yet started while the mayor pondered whether to veto the bill. He did so, to his credit, but that doesn't come close to addressing the fraud that permeates everything about this Socialist ambush.
First, consider the title of D.C.'s bill: The Large Retailer Accountability Act. Accountability? For what does Walmart owe accountability to the District of Columbia? you might ask. It has no history with the city and can be blamed for nothing that has already occurred there. It did not form or implement the liberal policies that have led to vast corruption, poverty, and crime. Those achievements are entirely to the credit of the District of Columbia and its elected liberal politicians, who for decades have done all in their power to ensure that the city is a stunning reflection of their moral and ethical standards. It is the one thing at which the left is successful.
No, it is not accountability to D.C. that motivated this bill. It is accountability to the entire left for Walmart's non-union-driven success in the free market. The left has always hated Walmart, and stores like it, though none is really like Walmart. They are the largest, the most successful, and they are non-unionized. Indeed, the D.C. bill is so blatant in its social targeting that it exempts unionized businesses from the penalties of the "Accountability Act." As they throw their members under the bus with ObamaCare and unfunded pensions, they are deemed "accountable."
Why should non-unionized businesses that are otherwise equally situated to Walmart be singled out for prejudicial treatment? Because they put the lie to unionism and Socialism. For decades, unions in the free market have existed largely as a Socialist mechanism to gradually wrest control of corporations and their profits from their owners and investors. To the extent that unions claim to pursue fair treatment and a safe workplace, they succeeded long ago. Much of that function now resides in the federal and state governments, which enforce workplace safety and employment equality zealously.
Nevertheless, from the outset, the left has used unions as a tool to curb capitalism and the ability of those who risked their own assets and reputations to achieve unencumbered success. Once others had done the hard work, the risks had been incurred, and a business was successful and growing, the unions swooped in on behalf of "the workers." Whether out of self-interest or by force, workers would join the union, and the blackmailing would begin. Nice business you have here. It would be a shame if something happened to it because you didn't give us what we want.
Those on the left love to accuse corporations of abandoning the United States and "outsourcing" their production, while ignoring that for generations they have so burdened businesses with union demands, entitlements, and benefits that those businesses could no longer earn a profit here. The unions proved so successful in redistributing the property of owners and shareholders to their own members, and the Democratic Party, that they killed those jobs, and often entire communities.
Unions now are nothing more than a legalized form of the Mafia. Similarly, so are liberal legislatures. Legislating a minimum wage unmoored from economics, rather than implementing successful economic policies in which the minimum wage would be a product of success and growth, is nothing more than charity at the point of a gun. Rather than honestly discuss what unions and liberal public servants have done to this country for decades, and what they are still trying to do, we have more recently adopted the euphemism of "social justice." That is, the left has always believed that it is socially just and appropriate to use the coercive power of the mob -- sometimes as unions, sometimes as government -- to enable wealth redistribution and severely punish or destroy those who resist.
And what of the "living wage" the left trumpets? There is no such thing. Entry-level jobs are starting points, not career objectives. Walmart has no social duty to provide what the left considers a "living wage," which is a moving target anyway. If the District believed that $12.50 as a "living wage" is a moral imperative, why hadn't they imposed it by law before Walmart came along? Furthermore, why hadn't they imposed it on all employers? Indeed, with the Community Partnership Initiative, Walmart created whatever social duty it might have owed, and pledged to meet it voluntarily. Other than that, Walmart owed nothing to the social engineers who conspired to rob them.
The eternal leftist myth is that it is not "fair" that those who risked all, and who continue to incur cost and risk to keep their business successful, should keep what they earn for doing so. The left's version of fairness is no different from what bank robbers and muggers have told themselves for ages. Social justice is merely what happens when leftists hold the gun. Similarly, though we used to value hard work and initiative in an employee, which was rewarded with advancement and higher pay, the left now thinks that its membership deserves that just for showing up on the first day, as long as someone else can be forced to surrender the money. In fact, our friendly local Socialists believe so strongly in their entitlement to the property of others that they are willing to torpedo thousands of jobs, scarce grocery and retail stores for their residents, irreplaceable tax revenues, and anything that remained of their supposed honor to extort Walmart into forking over what amounts to protection money for their existing commitment.
If the leftist politicians really cared about their constituents, they would facilitate the success of those rotten capitalists, who provide jobs, benefits, stability, social mobility, economic advancement, disposable incomes, and self-respect. We all know they can't afford to let that genie out of the bottle.