Free Robert Reich: Don’t Blame Wall Mart – Blame The Consumer Essay Sample
In “Don’t Blame Wal-Mart”, Robert Reich examines the peculiar relationship Americans have with Wal-Mart. On one hand, Wal-Mart is often portrayed as an evil corporate behemoth that exploits its workers and destroys small businesses. On the other hand, Wal-Mart gives Americans exactly what they want using an efficient and economical business model, which lowers prices for consumers. Reich offers a practical argument that Americans are always looking for the best deal, so instead of criticizing and blaming Wal-Mart, Americans needs to focus on a government regulations and public policy that encourages companies like Wal-Mart to be more socially responsible. This may make products a little more expensive, he argues, but “the citizens in us must trump the consumers in us.”
Since this article was written in 2005, corporations like Wal-Mart and other companies, including banks and other financial institutes have continued to operate in a de-regulated atmosphere. The recession of 2008 is a good example of what happens when companies concentrate on the bottom line profits, and not operating in the best interests of the economy and society as a whole. Reich seems to be suggesting that the problem with companies like Wal-Mart is the consumers who support them. This is backwards. In fact, he opposes what he calls “re-regulation”, because it would “cost (him) as a consumer far too much” (Reich 2005). Instead of governmental regulation, due diligence, or corporate responsibility, Reich argues that consumers need to be less cost conscious, and pay the corporations like Wal-Mart more, so they can offer their employees health insurance. Likewise, he mentions outsourcing computer jobs to India as a sensible practice that saves consumers money instead of a dangerous trend that destroyed entire sectors of the American economy.
. Reich believes the reason corporations are not socially responsible is because consumers are unwilling to pay more to support normal business practices like giving employees health insurance. He talks about “deals” as if companies at Wal-Mart were deliberately slashing prices, instead of looking at simple market forces, like supply and demand. He goes on to assert that “today's economy offers us a Faustian bargain: it can give consumers deals largely because it hammers workers and communities” (Reich 2005). This was written at the height of the delusional housing bubble, and Reich seems to have believed the good times were going to last. The only“debates about economic change take place between two warring camps: those who want the best consumer deals, and those who want to preserve jobs and communities” (Reich 2005). However, the real debates needed to be about realistic economic growth, and the subprime mortgage market that was about to implode. Ultimately, if consumers spend a little more at Wal-Mart makes very little difference in how Wal-Mart will operate, and it is ridiculous to believe that corporations make these decisions out of economic necessity. They do not offer most of their employees insurance because they want to compensate them as little as possible to increase profits. It would be interesting to see if consumers were willing to pay more, if Wal-Mart would reinvest that money back into their employee compensation packages. However, corporations have proven over and over again, that even though they are technically considered “people,” they have conscience.