A couple months ago, Amazon declared that it would pay all its employees at least $15 a hour. It cannot be coincidence that Amazon picked the very wage that progressives are demanding be set as a national minimum via legislation, so the Amazon move reeks of virtue-signal and image marketing.

That’s all fine and dandy. A private company can pay whatever it wishes to, and play whatever marketing games it wishes to, in the hopes of improving its bottom line. Amazon, being as large and visible as it is, and being routinely accused of disrupting mom-and-pop businesses, predatory trade, worker exploitation, and so forth, is a prime candidate for some image polishing.

If the unilateral decision to set a company-wide minimum wage was all Amazon did, there’d be no quibble from these quarters. Alas, that’s not what’s really going on.

Simultaneously with its move, Amazon indicated it’s going to lobby Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. If its lobbying efforts are successful, Amazon will have succeeded in a major public relations coup: A virtue-signal move that strongly suggested corporate responsibility and ethics, “woke-ness,” and “giving back” to the community, that didn’t cost it any competitive advantage.

Normally, if you, as an employer pay above-market for something, whether it be labor or goods/materials/inventory, you adversely impact your bottom line and give your competitors an advantage. If, however, you force everyone else to pay what you’re paying, your disadvantage goes away. You can raise prices to offset the increased cost without worrying about losing market share.

Force via government coercion has no place in a free market. It’s not capitalistic in any way, shape, or form, no matter that it’s being done by a private-sector company. Amazon’s action is merely the latest in a long list of examples that reminds us how businesses and businessmen should not be assumed to be capitalists or free-marketers. Many call this sort of thing crony capitalism, but, to repeat, there’s nothing capitalistic about getting the government to force others to behave as you want them to.

If you’re applauding Amazon’s $15 wage declaration, you’re falling for the misdirection that every successful magician is adept at. Realize, instead, that this isn’t altruism, but merely a stunt to get you to buy more from Amazon.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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