While most Americans spent the last few days peacefully celebrating the holidays with their families, hundreds if not thousands of people I’ve never met threatened me with bodily harm, attacked members of my family, issued death threats, described various diseases they hope I would fall victim to, and attacked me based on my Jewish religion.
“I really dislike you and am ashamed that you breath the same air as me,” came a Facebook note from one Karen Jordan.
After expressing his wish to see my wife and I murdered, Clayton Fletcher says, “Humanity would be much better off without these two gigantic wastes of human flesh and bone breathing in part of its air supply.”
“You are an evil person and you are part of what is wrong with this country,” Jeff Kernen of Eugene, Oreg., wrote me.
From Portland, Oreg., Lydia Andy Bendorf wrote, “I hope you get cancer, aids, gang green, the plauge, and suffer a slow miserable lonely fate [sic].”
Allen Bates opined, “I hope you develop psoriasis on your [expletive].”
The blogger Truth Militia wrote to me, “[Expletive] you old [expletive], shut your mouth and die like a good gentile slave! These Jews make me so [explicative] sick.”
So how did I unleash such unhinged rage?
I simply posted a video that comically debunked a popular left-wing policy prescription — the demand that profitable companies like Walmart pay higher wages.
Posing as a representative of a nation-wide worker advocacy group, I asked Walmart shoppers if they would agree to a 15 percent price increase if this surcharge translated directly into a $15 per hour wage for allWalmart employees. While the higher wage part of my appeal found wide supported, unsurprisingly very few were prepared to pay more themselves.
Yet this is precisely what would be required for employees to earn more.
Despite its size and ubiquity in the American landscape, Walmart’s gross margins are notoriously thin (around 3 percent). This figure matches a similarly modest 13-year return on shareholder equity (factoring the share price rise and dividends over that time period). Such modest returns hardly qualify as windfall profits. But the left sees a family of billionaires, and their blood runs hot. In fact, Walmart has grown to be the world’s largest retailer not because its owners make so much, but because its customers pay so little. Part of that formula requires keeping costs low. Other than the cost of goods, labor is its largest expense.
But this doesn’t mean Walmart pays slave wages. In fact, Walmart receives 50 applications for every job offered. The average pay for Walmart’s hourly workers is $10.10 per hour. A raise to a $15 hourly would increase its $26 billion annual hourly payroll by 50 percent, or $13 billion per year. This is approximately 80 percent of the company’s total operating profit of $16 billion. Taking those increases from profits would devastate the company’s finances and would place it in a competitive disadvantage.
My experiment showed the self-annihilation Walmart would face if the demands of its workers were placed ahead of the needs of its customers and shareholders. Despite liberals claiming monopolies on fairness and generosity, their reaction to my basic thought experiment reveals them as only willing to give away that which can be stolen from others.
Forced to question the foundation upon which their worldview is constructed, these ideologues instead lashed out, openly stating their desire to eliminate the people and ideas at odds with their closely held assumptions.
In effect, they expressed every bad character trait liberals typically attribute to tea-party conservatives. They claim to have been disgusted by my video, yet find nothing repugnant with their own conduct. (Check out what people are writing on my Facebook wall if you don’t believe me; I’ve been in the punditry business a long time, yet never encountered anything similar.)
Keep in mind that the comments come from people who could be your neighbors. They are the teachers “educating our children” and the citizens voting in our elections. It makes one wonder if the battle for the minds of our nation has already been lost, and that her fate has already been sealed.
Economically speaking there are many reasons why forcing companies like Walmart to pay above market wages for low-skilled, entry-level jobs is a bad idea. Such a move would make it harder for low-skilled workers to get their first job, to acquire the experience and skills necessary to earn higher wages in the future, and destroy the concepts of private property and free markets, but good luck trying to make these more nuanced points to the people who prefer ideology above all else.
Watch the video that spawned countless death threats against Peter Schiff!