Peter Schiff went outside a Wal-Mart and engaged in some live, participatory, economics education.
He claimed to represent an organization called “15 for 15.” The idea was that Wal-Mart workers are underpaid, and that his organization had a plan to pay them fifteen dollars an hour. Instead of being known for “everyday low prices,” the retail giant should be known for “everyday high wages.” What it would require was for Wal-Mart to increase all their prices by fifteen percent. There would be no need to actually alter each price; fifteen percent would be added onto the final bill at the cash register, as if the customers are leaving the employees a tip.
Of course, as the representative of 15 For 15, standing under a sign reading, “Wal-Mart customers supporting workers,” Peter Schiff zealously introduces the concept and asks customers if they support it. Many say they do. But then Schiff asks them to show their support and the viability of the concept by donating fifteen percent of their receipt to help the workers now.
Suddenly, no one wants to help.
I suppose someone will claim that these shoppers are being “selfish.” The ones who claim to support the concept and then confess they can’t afford it are certainly being inconsistent. But there is nothing more evil about not wanting to pay a higher price than there is from trying to force people to pay a higher price to get a higher wage. And there is nothing more “unjust” about hiring more workers at eight dollars an hour than hiring fewer workers at a higher wage and leaving others jobless.
The fact is that voluntary prices and voluntary wages naturally balance out and produce a rising standard of living. This is precisely how the United States and the rest of the world has risen above the poverty of the past. The reason it is no longer working correctly is somewhat due to burdensome regulations but mainly due to the evil and parasitic Federal Reserve System. That central bank, by manipulating fiat currency, upsets the balance and basically siphons wealth away from the lower-, working-, and middle-classes and transfers it to the super wealthy.
The free market is not the villain; the villain is central banks with fiat currency.