Putting America back to work

long-linesI went to Walmart the other day to get some new sunglasses. If my name was Warren Buffet, I’d probably do all of my shopping at Neiman-Marcus. Actually, I’d probably hire people to do my shopping for me. Since I need to make my paycheck stretch until it screams for mercy, it’s Walmart for me.

I don’t much like the Walmart shopping experience, though. My Walmart is the size of the DFW Airport, but it doesn’t have the cute little train to whisk you from Home Furnishings to Health and Beauty. You can cross time zones pushing your cart from Dairy Products to Automotive.

So the Walmart experience saves money but takes a lot of time. And you’ll spend as much time waiting in line at the checkout as you spent hiking around the store in the first place.

Every Walmart is apparently required to have 77 checkout lines, but they never have more than 3 cashiers, since human beings are more expensive than machines. So I inevitably walk five miles for a gallon of anti-freeze only to wait another 40 minutes behind a long line of people with full shopping carts.

As I’ve studied the situation, I’ve realized that I am not being productive for American industry when I am waiting in line. If you extend my experience to everyone who waits in line every day at one of our nation’s half-million Walmarts, K-Marts, Targets, IKEAs, Costcos, etc., you can quickly see why the American economy is deader than a conch — we’re all standing around trying to get through the checkout line.

And don’t even get me started on the Department of Motor Vehicles!

But I have a plan to put America back to work and increase our productivity. It’s called FLAWD: Faster Lines At Walmart, Dagnabbit! (This is a family-friendly blog.)

Under FLAWD, everyone who currently receives an unemployment check will be required to put in 25 hours a week doing checkout duty at the local Walmart or big box equivalent. Our generous federal government would provide these workers free of charge. All the bigboxes would have to do is train them and set them loose on those checkout lines. With 14 million out of work and climbing, we could put every able-bodied American behind a cash register today!

It’s win-win: the unemployed get the pride of working, and American workers get out of the checkout lines and back to the factory floor to make more widgets. And when all these new cashiers aren’t busy checking people out, they can sweep up around their station and maybe read the latest news on Jennifer Aniston’s new boyfriend.

I can hear the nay-sayers now. With free cashiers, what would keep Walmart from firing their existing checkout employees? There’s a simple solution to that. To receive these government-paid cashiers, store managers would have to swear on their mother’s grave not to get rid of current employees.

Either that, or we could create a tiny little subsidiary of the Labor Department called the Department of Checkout Lane Inspections, give it a few billion dollars and a large supply of paper for forms and regulations, and do what Washington does best: micro-manage everything.

I think we should try the promise thing.

Anyway, that’s just one of my excellent plans to get the American economy moving again. Once I get a few more ideas worked out, I plan to call a joint session of Congress to explain my program. Keep watching this space for more details!

Photo credit: Macro/micro Brooklyn

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