Recently, a French friend of mine was describing his astonishment at the sheer number of restaurants where he lives in the US. He said that where he lived in France there are far fewer restaurants than in the US. Eating out was generally reserved to celebrate special occasions with friends and family, whereas it seems people in the US go out to eat much more frequently. He posited that this difference in how we consume has given rise to the number of restaurants that compete based on lower prices. Perhaps if we ate out less frequently and for the purpose of celebrating a special occasion we would likely be willing to spend more on a quality meal than if we are just eating out due to habit or convenience. If we valued the quality of the experience, the service, the goods that we purchase over the accumulation of stuff, perhaps we would be willing to pay more. If we valued the work and worth of our fellow humans perhaps we would stop looking for the lowest price.
If we change how we consume so that price isn’t the determining factor in our purchasing decisions then perhaps the business model that drives down prices would become obsolete. Could Walmart, notorious for their low wages and poor working conditions, thrive in a society that values human dignity over accumulation? In our current economic system, one can hardly blame employers for not wanting to pay higher wages. However, if we as consumers adopt a different set of values, businesses would follow suit and the argument about minimum wage would likely disappear.