Wednesday, April 10, 2024

San Francisco Bay Role Reversal: Capitalism Works First, Socialism Destroys Later

Click here to read the original Cautious Optimism Facebook post with comments

The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff recently witnessed a novel example of left progressivism canceling out capitalism even when the latter is allowed to work (at first).

Money down the drain: A Walmart self-checkout kiosk
Normally socialism destroys markets by seizing the means of production, draining individuals of incentive to work, invest, and innovate, and/or debasing the currency so that economic calculation becomes unreliable or even impossible.

In other words, the capitalist means of production doesn’t even function properly from the start.

Well last week I visited the Mountainview, CA Walmart, the closest any Bay Area government will “allow” Walmart to open a store near San Francisco (36 miles), and saw an example of capitalism working up front, just to be canceled out by socialism later.

I stood in a short line to use one of the self-checkout kiosks, and when one opened I walked over only to be welcomed by a Walmart employee manning the machine. She started picking items from my cart and checking them out with a handheld scanner.

I told her “Oh don’t worry, I can scan” and she replied “Customers aren’t allowed to scan their own items.”

This being the San Francisco Bay Area I instantly asked “Does this have something to do with theft? Or shrinkage?”

”Yes, that’s one way to describe it.”

”I get it, I live in San Francisco.”

“Oh, I hear it’s really bad over there. But yes, we’re supposed to scan all the items. The customers can’t do it anymore.”

I looked to my left and my right and all six self-checkout kiosks had a Walmart employee standing there scanning items by hand while the customers stood and watched them. It was a crowded scene.

Being Economics Correspondent and always thinking about how capital accumulation enables firms to achieve the same or greater output with fewer workers, I asked the cashier “Doesn’t it defeat the purpose to have a worker scan for customers at a self-scan register? The kiosks are supposed to save money.”

She said “I suppose so. But at least we’re all busy.”

So here we have a company doing what companies do in a capitalist economy: investing in technology… or “capital” (labor-saving tools and machines) only to about-face and pay the very workers the machines were meant to replace anyway—all because local Bay Area governments allow shoplifters to run wild in the name of social justice, wealth redistribution, and/or reparations.

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