Wal-Mart: Minimum Wage versus Fair Wage
Wal-Mart has employed millions of people over the past fifty years. The first Wal-Mart, employing just a handful of people, was opened by Sam Walton 1962. Now, Wal-Mart employs 2.2 million associates (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 4). Wal-Mart is under fire for paying entry-level employees market wage for their work. Market wage (minimum wage or slightly higher) is the price of labor determined by the labor market. Is Wal-Mart hindering employees from achieving the American dream or is the retail giant a victim of mud-slinging? The American dream is a citizen’s ability to amass wealth and prosper through hard work, determination and initiative. Social activist, Patrick Stall, explains his viewpoint on wages at a recent protest. Wal-Mart’s work force will be analyzed to determine if employees are paid fairly. Lastly, a critical perspective of high school educated Americans living expectations will be examined to help understand their ability to succeed. The interpretation of this evidence clearly supports the conclusion: Wal-Mart is not responsible for an individual’s failure to achieve the “American dream”. In order to live in this post-recession era, American consumers are tightening their budgets and fighting for higher pay; incidentally, many hunt for someone to blame for their lost American dream. Activist and working-class citizen Patrick Stall rallies consumers against Wal-Mart during a fair wage protest. "We want to raise awareness to Wal-Mart's customers, and also bring it to the forefront and attention of Wal-Mart's management, that Wal-Mart is systematically pushing down wages in the United States for American workers" (qtd. in Klingseis 1). In this statement, Stall acknowledges the issue of fair wage and attempts to gain supporters. Addressing both customers and management at once, Stall strengthens the divide between Wal-Mart’s managers and employees. Furthermore, he declares that the American people, as a whole, are at risk of lower wages due to Wal-Mart. As Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world, this seems like an understandable conclusion. Wal-Mart has incredible influence on its suppliers, it certainly may have an effect on wages in general. After police broke up the protest, Stall continued, "I think the fact that Wal-Mart has to have police come just to defend their property . . . it says that they don't respect free speech . . . they don't respect the right of working people to speak out in favor of worker rights" (qtd. Klingseis 1). Here, Stall asserts that a Civil Liberty violation has occurred. Stall’s statement vilifies the retailer, saying Wal-Mart needs to fight dirty. Stall has effectively indicted Wal-Mart as a threat to the American way of life. To completely understand Stall’s claims, critical analysis of his statements is required. Cutting through the clutter, his first statement claims that Wal-Mart is responsible for wage trends in the United States. When Stall’s statement is viewed in this light, it is easy to see the hazy generalization being made. Wal-Mart’s internal practices concerning their employees has no effect on American wages as a whole. They are not responsible for wage fluctuation, be it positive or negative, in the United States economy. Stall’s second statement concerns Freedom of Speech. He elicits all Americans to realize this issue is directly affecting them, violating their constitutional rights (Madison 1). This argument is also flawed. Stall’s assertion fails to recognize that an unauthorized protest on private property is not a violation of freedom of speech. Stall admits that the protesters were on private property; furthermore, they didn’t have permission to protest there. Wal-Mart requesting police supervision doesn’t show violation of constitutional rights, it shows a corporation’s desire to protect itself and its customers from liability that could possibly result from the protest. Reviewing the factual evidence shows...
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