Well as much as President Obama and #PajamaBoy wanted us to talk about Health Care over the holidays, GorT and his friends and family didn’t touch the subject (aside from the brief jokes about how bad the rollout is going and the ridiculousness of the ensuing PR efforts). Instead the topic of Christianity, Capitalism and “living wages” were the topic du jour.
Here in DC, the city council voted to enact a “living wage” that was essentially targeted at Walmart. The company was planning on opening multiple stores across the city but threatened to back out if the measure was put in place. Major Gray eventually vetoed the bill and Walmart is proceeding to open the stores. The holiday discussion stemmed from this and reports that Walmart netted $17B in 2012. Of that, $13B was distributed to shareholders and investors through dividends and other means which includes 401k and other pension and investment plans. The argument from one side is with that amount of profit why can’t Walmart (and ostensibly other companies like it, but apparently Walmart is the target of the season) pay its employees more – specifically the lower income ones. Furthermore, any pay increase shouldn’t affect the price of their products but rather should come directly from the profit margin. From there, a discussion branched to include that it would be the Christian thing to do.
A few observations:
1. I think this argument and ones like it bespeak of the short-sightedness of liberal policies. While things like this could be done, it likely will have consequences, some unintended and dangerous down the road. Far too often, democrats and liberals have supported and enacted policies that were intended to address a specific problem but have snowballed out of scope and created others – think of most major entitlement programs.
2. The Christian thing to do is an individual calling. We have free will and are challenged by God to exercise it and (hopefully) choose the right thing to do. Jesus never addressed any of the political systems or economic systems of his time on Earth in his preaching. Instead, his message was one of what the individual should do. I think this is very powerful when you think about it. Christianity can transcend any political or economic system put in place because there will always be individuals. In fact, Christianity flourishes when you have free systems such as capitalism and democracy – where the individual has more control over their abilities to act and affect the world around them.
3. It is interesting to note, especially at this time of year, that Amazon hasn’t made a profit. Bezos has intentionally put any profit from the various operating units of Amazon into efforts to strengthen, improve and innovate the offerings Amazon has at a global scale. Read this great analytical piece about their business model to gain better insight. It is short-sighted to just look at a net profits number on a statement and not consider the broader picture.
4. If the point of the arguments from the left side of the aisle is to enact some sort of regulation or legislation, including a “living wage”, then I truly will be worried about what this means for our country and society. Have we really become that dependent on government that we, as individuals, cannot act to improve or help others? Why not take individual action? Are they really imposing their religious (Christian) beliefs on our system of government? If so, why not impose all our Christian beliefs?