Walmart shrugs in D.C.
Thus spoke D.C. city council member Vincent Orange as he rationalized passing a recent bill that makes it illegal for big-box retailers like Walmart to pay employees anything under $12.50 per hour. This in turn caused Walmart to abandon its plans to build three stores in the District of Columbia and may cause it to abandon its three others.
The relevant question here is: Who the hell is Vincent Orange to decide whether D.C. residents “need” to shop or work at Walmart?
Millions choose to shop at Walmart because it offers a wide selection of goods at prices they are willing to pay. Hundreds choose to work at any particular Walmart store because they are willing to do the specified work for the wage Walmart offers. Anyone who dislikes Walmart’s products is free to shop elsewhere, and anyone who thinks Walmart’s wages are too low is free to search for work elsewhere. All of these dealings are voluntary.
What is not voluntary are laws that ban Walmarts from certain geographic regions or make it illegal for Walmart to hire employees at wages that make sense for their business model. Judging from the large number of people who shop and work at Walmart, these laws derail millions and millions of win-win transactions that would otherwise occur if the Walmarts were built. In effect, this means that one of the most productive companies can be held back by local politicians.