The Pope Shops at CostCo

…or at least he would if he could–because its a company that treats people right.

With all the comment on Pope Francis’ comments on economics we do well to remember the Catholic principle of subsidiarity–that the solution is at the lowest level–not the highest. Because he is for the poor and condemns the rich, and because he comments harshly on mega economic institutions does not mean that he is in favor of mega institution solutions.

The problem is big, and big institutions like governments and banks need to assist with the solution, but the solution is small. Small is beautiful.

This article makes the point. The writer winds up by saying that the solutions are with individual companies or government agencies which are driven by individual people who make individual choices which affect thousands and millions of others. He gives the example of working on Thanksgiving or being closed on Thanksgiving.

The moral failure is a system that makes it so that people must work on holidays in order to survive. [like WalMart]

To compare to one of its competitors, Costco pays its cashiers an average of $15.06/hour vs Walmart’s $8.51/hour. That’s about $31,000 per year vs. just under $18,000 per year. Both companies are doing exceedingly well for annual profits. Both are clearly Capitalistic. But Costco functions in a model where the executives don’t need to make eight-hundred times the salary of their cashiers, only fifty times. According to CNN Money, Walmart CEO Michael Duke’s compensation is the same as what 796 of his employees combined make in a year, compared to Costco CEO James Sinegal’s 48 employees. Though Walmart is open on Thanksgiving, Costco remains closed. I can’t think of a clearer articulation of the differences between unfettered Capitalism and one with regulation or moral regard for its impact on communities and families. We can choose a Capitalism that serves all of us, or we can celebrate a tyranny this holiday season.

Oh, by the way, Jim Sinegal–the founder of Cost Co is a Catholic. Who says religion doesn’t make a difference?


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