By Stephen C. Webster on December 17, 2013

Wall Street broker and radio host Peter Schiff took aim at Walmart workers this week, publishing a video on YouTube that features him mocking recent demonstrations that call for the mega-retailer to pay higher wages.

In the footage, Schiff confronts Walmart customers with a simple proposal: if you support workers getting higher wages, why not support them with your own pocketbook? He tells unwitting participants that he's running a new campaign called "15 for 15," which asks Walmart customers to pay 15 percent more so workers can earn $15 an hour.

Watch:

While numerous people tell Schiff they support paying workers more, nobody on his edited video actually hands over any cash. To these rejections, Schiff mimes outrage. "But [the unions] are counting on you to pay higher prices!" he shouts.

To be clear, Schiff used to work for Lehman Brothers, and founded the investment firm Euro Pacific Capital Inc, so he knows that the second-largest corporation in the world, which pulled down over $447 billion in revenues during 2011 alone, does not actually have to choose between paying living wages or raising prices by 15 percent.

Instead, the point he's trying to make -- that corporations always pass on the costs of doing business to their customers -- seems to get lost in the midst of his mockery, especially considering his relative status and wealth.

"You don't support higher wages?" he jeers at one woman. "You greedy capitalist! Romney voter! Where are some Obama voters? They're sure to want to spend more money."

The union-backed group OUR Walmart has been agitating in recent months for better pay, more reasonable hours and adequate health benefits for the mega-retailer's workers. The group says it wants to see Walmart pay workers $13 an hour and offer more full-time positions.

"Walmart makes billions of dollars in profit while paying workers so little that many cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner," Rev. Ed Middleton, a Dallas-based pastor and OUR Walmart supporter, said in one of the group's media advisories. "It shows a complete disregard for employees and their families. The scope of today's nationwide protests matches the outrage felt by Americans across the country. Walmart's business model is morally indefensible, and we won't stand for it."

For a company that claimed a net income of $3.7 billion in just the fiscal third quarter of 2013, paying a livable wage can't be too much of a stretch. Just don't tell that to Schiff.

Despite the Wall St. broker's antics, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of raising the national minimum wage. More than three-quarters of survey respondents told the polling firm Gallup in November that they would like to see a minimum wage of at least $9 an hour.

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After the voter ID ruling, progressives try to reclaim politics for ordinary people

His bombing campaign is legally weak, and his rhetoric weaker.

By Harvey Wasserman

 

The most hopeful, diverse, photogenic, energizing and often hilarious...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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