Forget Santa and elves and reindeer. It wouldn’t be Christmas season in the 21st century without protests and boycotts around all of the Walmart Supercenters in the United States. This year is no different, with concerned liberals hounding the retail chain without mercy. The size of the demonstrations has been somewhat of a bone of contention, though. Some cheerleaders of the movement described it as “thousands of Walmart employees … at 1,000 stores” around the country. If we go strictly by the math (since “thousands” could be two or three thousand, which would average two or three per store) that may well be true. At the protest in DC, observers were only able to identify one protester who actually was an employee of the store. So who are the rest of the still rather small crowds chanting and talking about the evil of discount retail stores?
Well, they are largely Left wing activists or astroturf workers employed by the unions. They do get plenty of celebrity spokesmodels to take up their cause, though. But isn’t there something just a bit off tone when the Hollywood elite talk about this subject? Kevin Williamson explains.
I want to turn on the radio and hear Jay-Z boasting about his new Timex.
It is remarkable that Wal-Mart, a company that makes a modest profit margin (typically between 3 percent and 3.5 percent) selling ordinary people ordinary goods at low prices, is the great hate totem for the well-heeled Left, whose best-known celebrity spokesclowns would not be caught so much as downwind from a Supercenter, while at the same time, nobody is out with placards and illiterate slogans and generally risible moral posturing in front of boutiques dealing in Rolex, Prada, Hermès, et al. It’s almost as if there is a motive at work here other than that which is stated by our big-box-bashing friends on the left and their A-list human bullhorns.
This dovetails nicely with a question I was asking on Twitter last week, as liberals were calling for the defeat of stores such as Walmart or Target who needed employees to work on Thanksgiving. Were these same people demanding that gas stations and liquor stores be closed on Thanksgiving as well? No, they were not. But those stores are also full of people who are largely earning minimum wage or just a bit more. They weren’t home with their families on Thanksgiving. Where’s the love for them?
That doesn’t matter because the people doing the protesting may actually need to gas up their cars or pick up a bottle of Crown Royal on the way to their parents’ house, so the little people working behind the counter don’t really count. And very little of this has anything to do with the plight of the workers anyway. Walmart is big business. They produce a healthy, though not unusual profit margin and deliver income to the largely conservative family that owns and operates the business. For this sin they must be destroyed. And as Williamson explains, the fact that the poorest families out there rely on Walmart’s ability to deliver food and other merchandise at affordable prices matters not one bit either. If you somehow manage to drive up Walmart’s labor costs through social aggravation and that results in the prices going up, that’s not going to affect the lives of the elite spokesmodels who attack them. They don’t shop at Walmart anyway.
And for the little people who are hurt by it? Well, sometimes when you’re making an omelet you have to break a few eggs.