An op-ed in the New York Times advances the possibilitythat by protesting the opening of new Wal-mart stores we are really punishing them for our own sins as consumers:
To claim that people shouldn’t have access to Wal-Mart or to cut-rate airfares or services from India or to Internet shopping, because these somehow reduce their quality of life, is paternalistic tripe. No one is a better judge of what people want than they themselves.
The problem is, the choices we make in the market don’t fully reflect our values as workers or as citizens. I didn’t want our community bookstore in Cambridge, Mass., to close (as it did last fall) yet I still bought lots of books from Amazon.com. In addition, we may not see the larger bargain when our own job or community isn’t directly at stake. I don’t like what’s happening to airline workers, but I still try for the cheapest fare I can get.
Bingo! All the bleeding-heart pro-worker angst in the world goes right out the window when we get the urge to buy a cheap TV at 3AM. Sadly, the column goes straight down the tubes in the very next paragraph:
The only way for the workers or citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and regulations that make our purchases a social choice as well as a personal one. A requirement that companies with more than 50 employees offer their workers affordable health insurance, for example, might increase slightly the price of their goods and services. My inner consumer won’t like that very much, but the worker in me thinks it a fair price to pay. Same with an increase in the minimum wage or a change in labor laws making it easier for employees to organize and negotiate better terms.
(Emphasis mine) Again we find the inexplicable assertion that the only way to encourage highminded behaviour in people is through the coercion of law. This is the excuse of the spineless, of a man who refuses to take responsiblity for his own decisions and instead fancies himself helplessly tossed about at the mercy of his baser urges.
Agnostic though I am, I am tempted to say this is what happens when you deprecate religion and have nothing to replace it with. What else can explain a man contemplating acts which are, by his own admission, immoral within his personal ethical framework, and instead of expressing contrition and a resolve to do better, calling for government regulation to reign in his own selfish impulses? It’s like combatting rape by regulating the cut of women’s clothing. The possibility of self-control is not even given consideration.
EDIT: The article doesn’t just suggest an author lacking moral backbone, but one deprived of basic logical faculties as well. He claims that adding laws and regulations will “make our purchases a social choice as well as a personal one”. But that’s just the opposite of what it would do. By forcing companies to treat their employees in certain ways, the guilt the author feels for shopping at Wal-Mart would be assuaged, and the prices would be closer to those at other stores. The social aspect would become a lesser factor in the decision of where to shop.