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They Should Instead Be Singing Wal-Mart’s Praises

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

You report that “Hundreds protest against Wal-Mart in 15 cities, demanding higher wages” (Sept. 6).

Why protest only against Wal-Mart?  The fact that many people choose to work for that company at wages that protestors consider to be too low means that every other company in the world also refuses to offer these workers (with their current skills) higher-paying jobs.  Indeed, Wal-Mart clearly bests these other companies – and bests also non-profit employers such as government – at making attractive offers to its workers.

The fact that no other employers are willing to pay these workers higher wages reveals that the cause of these workers’ relatively low wages is their low skills.  The only truly effective protest against low wages, therefore, lies in actions that can be taken only by each individual worker – namely, gaining relevant experience and valuable skills.  It’s ironic and tragic that those who insist on raising the legislated minimum wage demand a policy that, by making entry-level jobs more scarce, denies many workers the opportunity to make themselves more prized to employers.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market
Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

One can reasonably ask: Why isn’t the government of Prince George’s County, or the Washington Post, or The Nation magazine, or the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton employing these workers at higher wages?