It’s not exactly at the heart of my usual blogging subjects on this site, but I was intrigued by Wal-Mart’s recent announcement that it would cut costs by capping wages and increasing the number of its part-time employees. The New York Times has an article about it from two days ago and an editorial about it yesterday. Ezra Klein comments on both here and here. In a way you have to admire the company. They got to where they are by directly, efficiently, coldly, cutting costs at every opportunity so as to ensure that they delivered the lowest possible prices to the consumer. And those low prices do make a difference for a lot of people on tight budgets. Wal-Mart is a great example of a pure capitalist venture, with all the good and bad that comes with it. But Wal-Mart also strikes me as an excellent model of problems that arise when you consistently choose to have the ends justify the means in making every business decision. This latest news strikes me as a maneuver akin to a parent eating its young: the company becomes more aggressive about cannibalizing its own labor force. Well, I guess the rest of us can look forward to continued low prices, right?
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