During my freshmen year in college, I applied for a part-time job at Wal-Mart. Even part-time employee applicants had to take a 100-question test. One question went something like: "Do you believe that a large corporation cares about its employees?" Um, duh.
Back then I was too naive to lie. Of course I answered, No. I still would have worked hard. I didn't need love; I needed money. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart did not hire me. I suppose they needed to hire people who believed the lie. And, of course, it is a lie. Wal-Mart does not care about its employees.
In a recent memo to the Wal-Mart Board of Directors, a consultant wrote:
[T]he cost of an Associate with seven years of tenure is almost 55% more than the cost of an Associate with one year of tenure, yet there is no difference in his or her productivity. Moreover, because we pay an Associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases, we are pricing that Associate out of the labor market, increasing the likelihood that he or she will stay with Wal-Mart.
All of that is true. Nevertheless, MoneyCentral starts ranting that Wal-Mart's looking out for its self-interest is evil. Are the employees who do not add additional value but nonetheless demand raises, evil? If not, why not?
Corporations use humans as units of production. Or, as one law firm partner said of his associates, "billable units." Humans use corporations for a paycheck. Each is attempting to prostitute the other. Sometimes the corporation gets the best of you; sometimes you get the best of the corporation.
Neither the employee nor the employer is evil. It makes no sense to speak of "evil" when people are making voluntary transactions. A company can only be evil when it enslaves. Wal-Mart might not care about its employees, but it does not compel its employees to work.
The consensus, though, is that Wal-Mart is evil. What does that say of the United States Government? If you work, the government forces you to tithe. The government forces you to spend money supporting corrupt institutions like Goldman Sachs. I can quit Wal-Mart. I can't quit the government - at least if I don't want to end up in prison.
Why is it that people so willing to recognize the evil of corporations nevertheless want to grow the federal government? If Wal-Mart is evil, what is the U.S. Government?