Friday, December 6, 2013

Sauce for the Goose

An old expression, "What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," conveys the idea that what’s good for one person is good for another.  If the behavior of one person or group is acceptable it must be acceptable for the rest.

This concept is often misapplied in politics.  If Politician A does something shady or immoral, pointing out that (otherwise) respected Politician B acted the same way years ago and it did not affect his (or her) job performance, does not excuse the behavior.  Telling lies or having extra-marital affairs is not made moral by the comparison to some great predecessor’s moral shortcomings.  Poor judgments are not excusable on the basis that my opponent or predecessor made equally poor judgments.  These excuses are as bad as saying that it’s right for any president to own slaves, because George Washington did.  No, using the idea for political excuses is clearly a misapplication.  Wrong behavior is not excusable by invoking some supposedly noble precedent.

I think a different application of “sauce for the goose” is more accurate, although I don’t expect many to agree.  That comparison is between the Black Friday shoppers and the top management of Wal-Mart.

Thanksgiving protesters held rallies at over 1500 stores to demand higher wages and better working conditions.  They argue that the company is rich enough and can afford to pay workers more.  Although most of the attention is on Wal-Mart, low-wage workers at fast food and other businesses join in the cry for a higher minimum wage and more benefits for their work.  The implication is that the company management is greedy and taking advantage of their employees.  They are paying as little as they must to purchase the labor to run their business.

Meanwhile, shoppers fight to get bargains inside the same stores, and the protesters expect these shoppers to agree with and back their cause.  People who have gone out of their way to pay as little as they can get away with for Christmas gifts and personal gadgets are expected to find at fault executives who want to pay as little as they can get away with, and to label them as greedy.  Good luck!

What gives anyone the idea that all prices should be low, while everyone’s wage is high?  Is there some kind of magic money tree that makes up the difference?  Aren’t the shoppers being greedy in the same way when they search for bargains as the executives when they want to keep their labor costs down?  Everyone wants the best deal, even, I suspect, those same protesters when they make purchases.  The irony raises an eyebrow among those of us who are lucky enough to be able to step back and look at it with cold objectivity.

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