THE “P” WORD
JOHANN WAGENER 6-7-1
The recession has devastated the finances of many Americans, but it has been very good to the Walton family. Since 2007, Walmart stores have been flooded with millions of folks who’ve lost their shirts in the housing bust, stock market crash, and stalled job market—people who can no longer afford to buy anything that isn’t made in China and sold by someone making close to minimum wage. Using newly released data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances (listed as “SCF” below), labor economist Sylvia Allegretto has put together this chart on the diverging fortunes of the Waltons and their customers:
As Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Insitute points out, the six Walmart heirs now have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined, up from 30 percent in 2007. Between 2007 and 2010, the collective wealth of the six richest Waltons rose from $73 billion to $90 billion, while the wealth of the average American declined from $126,000 to $77,000 (13 million Americans have negative net worth). Here’s a chart of how many average Americans it has taken over time to equal the wealth of the Waltons:
The Waltons claim to be good for America because they deliver the lowest prices when it comes to shopping for junk. What they don’t tell you is that the junk they sell was produced by people that are literally enslaved and then sold to you by a Walmart employee who is paid so little they are forced to apply for government welfare programs which, guess what, is paid by you the tax payer. The truth is America is good for the Waltons.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wages are so low they force many of its employees onto the public doles, creating a drag on taxpayers and the economy, according to a new report from the staff of congressional Democrats.
The report analyzes data from Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, estimating that a single 300-person Wal-Mart Supercenter in that state likely costs taxpayers at least $904,542 per year and could cost up to $1,744,590 per year, or roughly $5,815 per employee.
The blow back has been severe because it threatens the very foundation of these corrupt corporations who claim to be free market capitalistic enterprises while at the same time forcing their employees to be subsidized by the taxpayer. A recent article in the pro-business rag Forbes attempts to make Walmart the victim of big bad government imposing fair wage laws. How dare they mess with Walmart’s profits by forcing them to pay their employees a liveable wage and getting them off welfare. In fact they call that “stupid”.
Walmart has eagerly been reviving desolate corners of the city.
In order to punish this good deed, though, the rebarbative chairman of the D.C. City Council, Phil Mendelson, has been pushing an extraordinary new law that would apply only to large national retailers, with more than $1 billion in sales, who open D.C. stores of greater than 75,000 square feet. Such firms would be required to pay a “living wage” of at least $11.75 an hour to all employees — a 62 percent premium over the federal minimum wage. D.C. already has its own super-minimum wage of $8.25 an hour (set by law at $1 above the federal minimum). So the LRAA is a super-duper minimum wage proposed mainly to punish a single company, which is why wags in the press are calling it the Walmart Living Wage Bill.