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The fourth of five parts of my expose on Walmart has no real theme.  Like the others, it is more an information dump.  The series concludes tomorrow.

“...Between 2007 and 2010, while median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent, the wealth of six members of the Walton family – heirs of the founder of the chain – of Wal-Mart rose from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion. These six individuals own as much wealth as the 48.8 million families at the bottom of the country’s wealth distribution (or 41.5 percent of all American families) combined….”

The worst part about Walmart is the fact that it is costing the US Taxpayer a fortune.

House DEMS Report

House DEMS Report

It is a drain on our economic well being.  But – the far right just doesn’t get it.  They worship at the Church of Walmart, the church of corporate profit, and the adoration of the billionaire.

“...In short, Walmart is no longer a good investment, no longer a functioning capitalism-driven corporation. It is now a government subsidized engine designed to take money out of taxpayers’ pockets, while using a variant of the three-card monty to make it appear to shareholders that they are getting a return on their investment. And this subsidizing is now in danger, as Republican politicians the company has been funding take aim to eliminate the subsidizing of the company’s poverty-wages, as well as regular conservative cries for strong tariffs which would decimate Walmart’s imports. When this happens, Walmart will either be forced to increase its wages while its price of goods climbs, or will have no employees nor goods to sell. The workers would realize they would only be able to survive if they had no job, or worked for a company which paid far more than Walmart. Customers would dry up, and stores would close. If combined with the flat wages, it is clear why the Arkansas-based corporation is in serious financial trouble. Adding to the problems is the fact that the firm has a severe debt to debt ratio issue, and an equity to debt ratio which is close to even, a bad sign when you recognize that the corporation holds a huge portion of its own stock. It is a house of cards, and as internal emails revealed earlier this year, Walmart may be close to collapse….”

Business Week

Business Week

“...“A decent wage is their demand—a livable wage, of all things,” said Representative George Miller (D-Calif.). The problem with companies like Wal-Mart is their “unwillingness, not their inability, to pay that wage,” he said. “They hand off the difference to taxpayers.” Miller was referring to a congressional report (PDF) released in May that calculated how much Walmart workers rely on public assistance. The study found that the 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required some $900,000 worth of public assistance a year. Catherine Ruetschlin, an analyst at Demos, the progressive policy center, noted during the press conference that raising wages can be good for the overall economy. “Putting money into workers’ wallets puts cash in the registers of retailers, and with it the need for new employees,” she said. “We estimate that a raise to $25,000 a year would lead to at least $11 billion of new GDP and generate 100,000 new jobs.”

“We have hundreds of thousands of associates who are making $25,000 a year or more,” says Kory Lundberg, a Wal-Mart spokesman. “And the opportunity exists for those who aren’t to grow into the career they want. We promote 160,000 people a year.” Lundberg also explained how to parse some of Wal-Mart’s figures. The company has 1.3 million hourly workers, which led OUR Walmart to claim at the press conference that 825,000 of them made less than $25,000 a year. Lundberg points out that Simon’s presentation was referring to the 1 million who work in the stores. (The rest work as truck drivers and at the Bentonville (Ark.) headquarters, among other places.) So about 52 percent of its associates make less than $25,000 a year—not 63 percent….”

National Memo

National Memo

According to a report by the Democratic Staff of the US Committee on Education and the Workforce, in May of 2013, one of the reasons for the economic collapse in 2018 was because of the growing problem of inequity in this country.

“...As will be seen in the next section, stagnant, low wages have serious implications for taxpayers. But they also allow the income gap to grow wider. And income inequality has implications beyond straining federal, state, and local government budgets. Economists have raised concerns that income inequality threatens economic growth and leads to crises. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in 2011 that “[t]he recent global economic crisis, with its roots in U.S. financial markets, may have resulted, in part at least, from the increase in inequality.” Another IMF report found that, “when income inequality grows for several decades, debt-to-income ratios increase sufficiently to raise the risk of a major crisis.” Moreover, the income gap appears to mirror a growing mobility gap, with several recent studies finding that Americans are less upwardly mobile than people in comparable countries.9 In other words, the growing income gap puts the American Dream itself at risk. Nowhere are the effects of income inequality, wage stagnation and workers’ declining bargaining power more evident than inside the Wal-Mart workforce….”

House Dems

House Dems

“...On Tuesday, Wal-Mart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan said the drive is held at various stores during the year for associates who are going through a rough patch. “That program was completely taken out of context.  We are offended.  This was an act of human kindness for our associates,” said Buchanan. The drive, to which Wal-Mart does not even contribute at the corporate level, is part of the Associates in Critical Need Trust.  Buchanan says that employees have given $80 million through the program since 2001.  The program also grants a generous “up to” $1,500 to associates who are facing “homelessness or illness.” …”

“…“That Wal-Mart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage,” Norma Mills, who lives near the Wal-Mart in Cleveland, told the Plain Dealer. Some workers at Ohio Wal-Marts went on strike today.

Wal-Mart has defended the food drive as way of helping their employees.  “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” said a company spokesperson.

Supporters of Wal-Mart workers who have been periodically striking say it’s proof of the need for their movement.  Some Wal-Mart workers have joined the growing low-wage worker movement for better wages and benefits.  The majority of workers at the corporation earn less than $25,000 a year.

While some workers said they appreciated the food drive, others had a different take. One employee named Scott Stringer said he plans to go on strike. He makes only $9.30 an hour.

The food drive “captures Walmart right there,” Cornell’s Kate Bronfenbrenner told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Walmart is setting up bins because its employees don’t make enough to feed themselves and their families.”…”

Alternet

Alternet

Part Five continues tomorrow.

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