Stories like those of Walmart and Southwest Airlines never cease to amaze. What were smaller companies once, by focusing on execution, and culture, were able to overtake well-established and gigantic competitors of their times and transform themselves into undisputed market leaders. It takes a generation – about thirty or forty years – to get there, quite like the monarch butterflies that migrate from Mexico to Canada across multiple generations.
Of course, these successful organizations that were once underdogs themselves, start to face alternate reality of now being considered evil by the rest of the world. Even when they do something good, the action is scrutinized as a selfish move. A case in point is Walmart’s Feb 2015 decision to increase the pay rate of its workers to $10 / hour, 38% higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Given the retail behemoth employs more than a million US workers, the cost of this decision is north of $1 billion to the Walmart exchequer. Did Walmart shareholders suddenly become too kind to dole out that kind of money to its employees? Likely not. Decisions such as these are calculated moves to retain employees, reduce costs associated with labor turnover, and especially in the case of Walmart, even effect the industry and the US and in turn the world economy.
I for one am all for minimum wage increase, especially if you are a business above a certain threshold. The 1% debate is a sad situation indeed. The lower rung of the society can/must have a better standard of living while the society still embraces capitalism. The average US household income is less than $50,000 per annum. Most of us in the tech or financial industries make way above this average, and still we feel we have less. That is the catch 22 situation with money itself. Our lifestyles, and even definition of basic needs, are dictated by how much we earn. We are mostly on the brink, living on the edge.
It is definitely refreshing to note the possibility of minimum wage increases by the corporates, driven by the forces of the same economy which helps them thrive, even though the politicians, the people representatives, haven’t been able to do much about it yet. Everyone deserves to live better. Even the 1%, though in the opposite way.