Noted investor Peter Schiff staged a fake protest recently to show what would happen if Walmart agreed to pay its employees as much as $15 an hour, with hilarious results.
Walmart has in recent months become the topic of a heated debate regarding low-wage, entry-level jobs, with organized labor and liberal pundits leading the charge against the non-union mega-retailer.
Some have even managed to convince a large number of people that Walmart should offer as much as $15 per hour to its thousands of employees.
But here’s the thing: Some financial experts say an exponential increase in the cost of labor will only lead to an increase in the cost of goods and services. At $15 an hour, the going price for items such as sweaters and groceries would undoubtedly surge.
Schiff decided to find out what would happen if random Walmart shoppers were asked to donate 15 percent of the total amount they spent that day to an organization called “15 for 15.” The organization, which is totally fictitious, advocates increasing the retailer's wage rate by 15 percent.
Unsurprisingly, many of the shoppers declined his request.
"Would you contribute 15 percent of the price of that TV for the Walmart workers?" Schiff asked one shopper, later adding that all money would go to the retailer’s employees.
"But they are counting on you to pay higher prices!" Schiff shouted at another Walmart patron.
No one accepted the challenge, according to the video.
“Even those who felt Walmart workers should be paid more did not want to pay higher prices themselves to make it possible,” reads the video’s description. “Those demanding higher wages for Walmart's workers should consider the importance of low prices to Walmart's customers.”
A few things should be noted about the video.
First, as in all “man on the street” videos, it’s important to remember that we’re only seeing what the video’s producers want us to see.
A few shoppers may have actually tried to donate to Schiff’s fake organization. Perhaps shoppers declined Schiff’s challenge because, well, they recognized him, as Business Insider noted. Maybe they turned him down because they thought he was a hustler.
Schiff’s lack of success doesn’t necessarily mean those Walmart shoppers are against an increase in Walmart's wages. It could just mean that the shoppers didn’t want to donate to Schiff.
Still, regardless of the prank and of the fact that Schiff had to use a falsehood to make his point, the video is probably an accurate representation of how most consumers would react if Walmart increased its wages, thereby leading to an increase in the cost of goods and services.
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This post has been updated.