I see your point Chunky, but posts 2 and 3 are correct. It would be great to have a more equal society, but we cannot legislate it or tax it into existence. We have to educate, train and work our way toward it. Also, remember that no matter how unpopular the thought is, there are a certain number of people that are not qualified or capable of doing more to get paid more. For the most part, people are paid what there talents, capabilities and contributions are worth to the economy. WalMart pays what they do for two reasons; they can, and they don't have to do more. They and companies like them pay what the market will sustain. We are in a global economy, and no matter how good it might make us feel in the short term, or borders have to be open to trade. For every rule, regulation, standard or wage law we impose on ourselves, we only restrict our ability to compete in the global market. Apple is heralded as a great American success story, but it was cheaper for them to have their products manufactured overseas and shipped back here to sell in the US. If we tax, WalMart for instance, for not paying what some consider a living wage, what do we do with others, Apple for instance, that don't pay anything to American manufacturing workers?
The market governs itself for the most part. It's important for us to regulate and set minimum requirements, but too much unilateral regulation can be deadly to our economy.
How do we compete with products manufactured in countries without our strict environmental laws? In many product areas, we no longer can or do. Batteries for instance. Mexico's manufacturing of batteries has skyrocketed over the last decade. Almost all recycled batteries sold in the US are produced in Mexico now, due to environmental regulations. Similarly, US labor laws (safety, pay, etc.) are what helped China, Singapore and other Asian markets grow tremendously in international sales for the last 40+ years, reducing our ability to compete on a global basis.
I remember Sam Walton stating in TV commercials that WalMart only sold "Made in the USA" products. But they had to change to compete as the global market infiltrated our economy (also Sam died).
Look, I support and agree with the need for worker safety and protecting the environment. I also know that we cannot tell or make Mexico or China or any other country comply with our standards or regulations, or even to adopt their own.
One thing that isn't discussed much if at all when this topic comes up. And that's: Exactly what is a Living Wage? How do we determine what a minimum standard of living is, and what dollar amount is needed to achieve that? Do we all need a car for each person in the house, or just one per household, or just one per three families? Apply that to every other item in a persons life (housing, food, cloths, medicine, education, pets, recreation, drugs/alcohol/tobacco, and so on). My point is, that before we can determine a true Living Wage, we must make the determination as to what defines that wage. And who does the defining? The government? Would the next step required be that the government regulate what, where and how much each of us can or must have as a minimum? If we start setting minimums, what's next? Regulating what the maximum we can have will be? That's already occurring with the management level personnel of companies that took stimulus money from the government. Where does it start, and where does it end?
It is a good question you pose. Just be careful in where it may lead, and what the unintended consequences may be.