Henry Ford paid his automobile factory workers a living wage because he wanted his employees to be able afford to buy his cars. Demand leads to supply leads to demand. Wal-Mart, unlike Ford a century ago, doesn’t have to worry about paying a living wage or even making a corporate profit based on the fickle free market principle of supply and demand. Thanks to a strong government-provided social safety net (which is a good thing!), the late Sam Walton’s children get to pay Wal-Mart employees just enough to still fall below the poverty line and give Wal-Mart employees just too few hours to miss qualifying for employer-provided health insurance. Luckily for Wal-Mart, the government will step in and provide food stamps to the many Wal-Mart workers making below poverty wages and offer Medicaid to the company associates working 30 to 35 hours a week with fluctuating schedules that don’t even allow these workers to take a second part time job. Those food stamps work in the Wal-Mart grocery section, that Medicaid is accepted at the Wal-Mart pharmacy, and employees are paid so little, the only affordable shopping place is Wal-Mart. Perfect! It’s just like Henry Ford’s workers buying his cars!
One would think this level of control, power, and profit would make the Walton family plutocrats happy. But, no, it’s not enough that Wal-Mart pays low wages and suppresses even the hint of organized labor by terminating any employee yelling “union” or even whispering that word anywhere near the Yellow Smiley Face. Wal-Mart makes its potential employees give up their right to privacy and pee in a cup just for the privilege of reduced wages. Such employee drug testing, by Wal-Mart and many others, is a class issue, and much easier to force upon employees who lack collective bargaining rights. As we all know, not everyone is drug tested. If you have to wear a uniform at work, congratulations! You get to pee in a cup. If you wear a pantsuit or shirt and tie, you’re good to go, we trust you! Some union jobs (mine included) have acquiesced to drug testing, but for the most part, it’s blue collar workers, not white collar, that have to fill a Dixie cup and make it warm and yellow.
I’m sure Wal-Mart officials would probably say drug testing is an image issue, because they want employees reflecting the values of the company. If that were true, Wal-Mart would pass out matches and gasoline canisters and send its employees off to burn down nearby mom ‘n pop stores, thereby rendering literal what Wal-Mart does economically to local small businesses. Wal-Mart’s drug testing is really all about control. The Walton family thinks it owns its workers and has a right to control their private lives. Let’s not kid ourselves; these are the same people who would’ve been running southern plantations in 1850. The rich businessmen who run companies like Wal-Mart are awful people colluding and conniving with their bought-and-sold politicians to destroy organized labor and control the lives of common workers, from the safety of their Montgomery Burns Dracula castles and Scrooge McDuck money vaults.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating drug use. I realize that substance abuse causes serious social problems and ruins many people’s lives. And, in my personal opinion, anyone still regularly smoking weed after college is a little pathetic. (Plus there’s nothing more annoying than a stoner that looks down his nose at cigarette smokers. Pot, meet kettle. Pun definitely intended!) However. Cannabis users, no matter how smelly and annoying they may be, are otherwise good law abiding citizens and no threat to you or me. They should not be arrested and do not belong in jail. It is disastrous social policy to axiomatically exclude pot smokers from the job market, especially in a nation that already has high unemployment, especially in a country that is slowly legalizing marijuana anyway state by state, and especially when we can be damn certain a lot of those rich businessmen and Wall Street frat boys who really run the world are doing enough recreational drugs to put hundreds more poor black men in jail. I’m against this nation’s War on (Some) Drugs (Used by Some Classes of People) being used as another way for America’s rich plutocrats to oppress and control the common worker.