I've always thought Joe Biden, Democrat Senator from Delaware, stood out as unusually pompous and full of himself, even in the U.S. Senate, and with less reason than almost anyone this side of Lindsey Graham. Apparently, Biden at it again. He attracted the attention of blogger Jeff Matthews:
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Weekend Edition: Say it Ainât So, Fighting Joe
Joe Bidenâs color picture jumped out at readers from the pages of this weekâs New York Times.
Wearing a starched, striped, open-necked shirt beneath a crisp grey suit, his longish graying hair catching the breeze, the Senior Senator from Delaware looked passionate, raw, and inflamed with rage and indignation.
Precisely what is it that had gotten the 34-year Senate veteran and ex-Presidential candidate so indignant?
The failure of the Bush administrationâs post-war policy in Iraq? No.
The state-sponsored holocaust cartoon exhibit now on display in a country (Iran) whose leader maintains the holocaust is a âmythâ? No.
Child pornography, perhaps? No, sadly.
Not even the price of gasoline was on the Senator-who-would-be Presidentâs mind.
What was on the Senatorâs mindâwhat had him really steamingâwas Wal-Mart.
Returning to Des Moines (the scene of his infamous âI started thinking as I was coming over hereâ¦â speech in which he went on to plagiarize the speech of a British politician; a speech which existed, unfortunately for Joe and his soon-to-be-abandoned Presidential campaign, on a video handily provided to the media by the Dukakis campaign) Biden took to a podium and ranted for a reported 15 minutes against one of the greatest economic success stories in American history:
Biden summed up his problem with the largest non-government employer in the nation as follows, and I am not making this up:
âMy problem with Wal-Mart is that I don't see any indication that they care about the fate of middle-class people. They talk about paying them $10 an hour. That's true. How can you live a middle-class life on that?â
Now, I donât know where in the Constitution it is written that retailers must provide a âmiddle-classâ life for their employees. I donât imagine the woman who vacuums Bidenâs nice Senate office every night is being paid a âmiddle-classâ wage. Nor, I would bet, is the guy who starched Bidenâs nice, striped, this-will-look-good-on-camera shirt at the dry cleaners getting a âmiddle-classâ wage.
But that vacuum lady and that dry-cleaning guy donât concern Biden precisely because they are not employed by a company that has thus far been unsuccessfully targeted for organizing by Big Labor.
And Big Labor wants to unionize Wal-Mart big-time, which isâletâs be honestâthe real agenda here.
Personally, I couldnât care less if Wal-Mart employees decide to unionize or donât decide to unionize. Having met Sam Walton and toured any number of Wal-Mart stores with senior Wal-Mart managers and junior Wal-Mart managers and just plain Wal-Mart associates made rich through "Mister Sam's" generous stock grants over the years, I have a hard time believing people with that kind of strong, proud culture will throw in its lot with the work-rules crowd. But anything is possible.
I just think when a guy whoâs claim to fame is that heâs been in the U.S. Senate for 34 years decides to pick on the most successful retailer ever created, it bears some looking into.
For starters, Biden is being cute when he says the folks at Wal-Mart âtalk aboutâ paying $10 an hour. They donât talk about itâWal-Mart actually does pay ten bucks an hour.
And ten bucks an hour is, for the record, double the minimum wage.
Second, Wal-Mart did not exactly act like the British Navy when it came to hiring the 1.8 million individuals who now work there worldwide. (The Brits, in the early decades of their naval history, used press gangs to ârecruitâ seamen for their ships by, among other techniques, getting poor sods unconscious-drunk onshore and carrying them offshore before they came to.)
In fact, a recently opened Wal-Mart superstore in one of the most anti-Wal-Mart locationsâNorthern Californiaâhad 11,000 applicants seeking 400 of those lousy, non-middle-class-enabling $10-an-hour jobs that Senator Joe finds so problematic.
Hereâs the story:
Wal-Mart has accepted more than 11,000 applications from Bay Area job seekers, marking the largest volume of interest it has received at any of its Northern California stores, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Lin.
âI needed a job ASAP, and they had their doors open,â said Virginia Ford, 19, of Oakland, who had applied for 25 jobs in three months before she landed one as a cashier at Wal-Mart in Oakland on Tuesday.
âSan Francisco Chronicle, August 2005
Doesnât sound like Ms. Ford was kidnapped and forced to work at gunpoint: sounds like she just wanted a job; and Wal-Mart provided it, as Wal-Mart has provided 1.799999 million other jobs around the world.
Now, for comparison's sake, letâs look at Joe Bidenâs record on creating middle-class jobs, since he's the one complaining about it.
This is what his web site says on the topic:
Recognizing that America's 25 million small businesses employ nearly half of the private work force, generate more than half of the nation's gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy, Sen. Biden helped secure an upgrade of Delaware's Small Business Administration branch office to full district office status. Prior to this announcement, Delaware was the only state in the nation without a district office.
So, there you have it: what Joe Biden did to create jobs was he got the Feds to shell out for an SBA âdistrict office,â the web site of which lists five individuals.
Thus by my math one could say Senator Joe has, in his 34 year career, created five jobs that might not otherwise have been created if he had not spent those 34 years in the U.S. Senate.
By comparison, when Joe Biden was sworn in back in 1973, Wal-Mart had just over 3,500 âassociatesââthe term Sam Walton used for âemployeesââand generated $167 million in sales. (If you get a chance, look up one of the old annual reports on the Wal-Mart web site: they are straightforward, earnest and touchingly old-timey.)
Today, Wal-Mart employs 1.3 million associates in the U.S.âand another 500,000 outside the U.S.âwhich together amount to a very large a number of people whoâve willingly accepted one of those non-middle-class-enabling jobs. For the record, Wal-Mart's U.S. job growth compounds at an astonishing 19% over the 34 years that Fighting Joe Biden has been on Capital Hill.
A little back-of-the-envelope math makes the numbers even larger: assuming turnover (people who leave) at Wal-Mart runs about one-third of total employment each year (and thatâs a guess: most low-end retailers run far higher than that) then Wal-Mart has employed, over the last 34 years, an additional 2.5 million Americans on top of the 1.3 million currently working in dead-end, unattractive, non-middle-class jobs at what is now double the minimum wage.
So that means as many as 3.8 million Americans have found employment thanks to Sam Waltonâs low-cost retailing modelâcompared to the five bureaucrats wangled out of the U.S. budget by Fighting Joe Biden.
Clearly Wal-Mart knows a thing or too more about creating jobs than the Senator running for President.
But is $10 an hour a âlivable wage,â as Biden and the other Democrats-who-think-they-can-become-President-but-donât-realize-Hillary-already-has-the-nomination-locked-up clique would argue it is not?
For many Americans, including the reportersâand I count two of them as friendsâwho despise Wal-Mart, it is not. But for many Americans, it clearly isâotherwise, nobody would work for Wal-Mart.
Theyâd go to 7-11 or McDonalds or Circle K, or somebody offering a job at minimum wage. But they donât. Almost 4 million of themâby my calculationsâhave gone to Wal-Mart for work.
And I havenât even gotten to the economic benefit accruing to the 100 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart each week in the form of lower prices than they would otherwise pay if Sam Walton hadnât revolutionized discount retailing.
Assuming consumers save ten bucks each visit over the pre-Walton era of every-day-low-pricing, that amounts to a $1 billion-a-week benefit to American consumers, or $52 billion a year. Not bad.
How much has Joe Biden or any of his anti-Wal-Mart peers done for the average American? Letâs look at Joe's own self-promoting web site for clues.
Hereâs Senator Joe fighting drugs:
As Co-Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Sen. Biden has a long record of accomplishment in passing bills to combat drug use and help drug addicts kick their habit. He wrote the 1988 law creating the nationâs âDrug Czar,â who oversees and coordinates national drug control policy. Today, Senator Biden continues to work to stop the spread of new drugs such as Ecstacy, Rohypnol, and Methamphetamines.
Given the current meth epidemic sweeping the American middle-class, Iâd say not much has changed since Joe âwrote the lawâ creating a âDrug Czar.â
As for the environmentâ¦
Sen. Biden believes we should strengthen the Clean Air Act to cut cancer-causing emissions. He also helped lead the effort to make polluters pay for the clean up of toxic waste sites. When polluters don't pay, taxpayers do. That's why Sen. Biden wants to restore the Superfund Trust Fund and force corporations to take responsibility for their actions.
âWhen polluters donât pay, taxpayers do.â Tough talk from Delawareâs Senior Senator! However, I see no record of how Joe has ever applied that tough talk to two of the largest employers in his state, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors, whose main product happens to pollute the atmosphere.
Perhaps itâs because heâs been spending so much effort âfighting forââto use a favorite phrase of the Senator Forehead-types of all parties and persuasionsâeducation. Hereâs what his web site says about that:
Investing in education is one of Sen. Biden's top priorities. To better prepare today's students to meet the technology challenges of tomorrow, he has undertaken bold initiatives in the Senate to close the "digital divide" and ensure that all students have access to the on-ramp of the information super highway.
Talk about your controversial stance! Itâs like my own Attorney General, Dick Blumenthal, bragging about âtaking on the tobacco companies,â as if that was somehow a risky thing to do.
And hereâs how Joe spins his vote to go to war in Iraq:
As a longtime member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden knows that no foreign policy may be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And of all the mistakes the Bush Administration made in Iraq, perhaps the biggest was they never leveled with the American people.
If Senator Joe honestly believes Bushâs âbiggestâ mistake of the war in Iraq was that Bush ânever leveled with the American people,â rather than, for example, âthey never planned for how they'd run Iraq after the war,â then he is even less insightful than I imagined from his Wal-Mart diatribe.
But with Biden, as with most Senators, whatever their party, the issue is not intellectual honesty. The issue is âWhat can I do to get elected to something bigger?â And since Biden is one of those poor soulsâwhose ranks include Chris Dodd, Mark Warner, John Kerry and John Edwardsâwho believes he stands an actual chance to become the Democratic Presidential nominee over Hillary, then he is going to do stupid, short-sighted stuff like castigate the countryâs largest private employer.
Or plagiarize speeches from British politicians.
I Am Not Making This Up