business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we had stories about lawsuits that Wal-Mart is facing from immigrant janitors who say the company cheated them out of overtime and vacation pay (Wal-Mart says they were the employees of outside contractors, and therefore it is not responsible), and from women who have filed a gender discrimination suit claiming that they weren’t paid as well as men.

To which MNB user David J. Livingston replied:

How could Wal-Mart possibly lose in court to those janitors who weren't even employees of Wal-Mart? And those women who claim they did not get equal pay? How absurd. Salary is negotiated between the person or union and their employer. This is a free country where everyone is free to pick and choose their compensation level based upon their own ambition and negotiation skills. It has nothing to do with being a man or a women but rather skill and ambition.

Not always, we’re afraid. We’re not taking a position on the Wal-Mart gender discrimination suit, but there certainly have been plenty of cases in this country where old boy networks serve to keep women underpaid and under-promoted. It happens less and less, but it still happens. And while a lawsuit ought to be the last resort, sometimes it is the only way to get justice. And we assume that whichever way the result of this case goes, the result will be justice.

(We also suspect that there may be a few women out there who will disagree with your assessment. It so happens that we had a mother, and still have a wife, daughter and four sisters…so we know which battles to take up and which to avoid.)

As for the janitors – well, just what company employed them and determined their pay schedules strikes us as the heart of the legal battle. And only time and a system will tell us what the facts are and where the responsibility lies.

We also had a story yesterday about the Texas father who got fed up with his three sons’ behavior in the days before Christmas. They were fighting and verbally abusive to each other, and so he warned them that the Nintendo system that he’d intended to give them for Christmas would instead be sold on eBay.

The oldest child double-dared the father to do it. So he did.

Our comment: If more parents had the courage to do stuff like this, we’d live in a better, more considerate world. Good for him.

And MNB user Jacqueline Vargas Donovan responded:

I agree with you wholeheartedly, the problem I believe is that the pendulum has swung too far away from discipline to "I wanna be your best friend". I concur with my parents’ model; we become friends when you become an adult, until then I'm the boss. I am tired of seeing parents negotiating with a three year old. While this doesn't mean that I condone physically or mentally abusing children in any way I do believe that bad behavior deserves consequences like the loss of a beloved item or activity.

Thank you for your outstanding column!

Every once in a while, we probably should all remind our kids that parenthood is not a popularity contest.
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