October 28, 2004

Tit for Tat

Jim Hightower takes on the subsidies given to WM:

The average payout to a Wal-mart store was $2.8 million. Imagine being an independent pharmacy, hardware store, grocery or other shop and having to compete with a multibillion-dollar giant that is then handed an extra $2.8 million taxpaid advantage over you.

The actual subsidy is much larger, for the center was able to look at only a portion of the 2,900 Wal-Mart stores. Also, the report covers only the direct development subsidies, not counting the huge, wage subsidy it gets. Wal-Mart pays at a poverty level and provides no health coverage for a majority of its workers, instead, counting on food stamps, emergency rooms, and other publicly-financed services to underwrite its workforce.

Sarah Clark, Director of Corporate Communications at WM, responds:

Finally, on health care and jobs, Wal-Mart will spend more than $4.3 billion for our associates´┐Ż benefits in 2004, including health coverage. That money will go to cover more than 500,000 associates and their families. In addition, Wal-Mart pays wages that are highly competitive in the retail industry, with an average hourly wage of $9.98 nationally and $10.38 in metro areas.

Wal-Mart always pays above the federal minimum wage, and provides a profit sharing/401(k) plan, company-paid life insurance, discounts on company stock and discounts on merchandise for associates. Thousands of people line up for jobs at Wal-Mart. Our turnover rate is one-third below the average for the retail industry. Clearly, associates find value in working here.

Folks, here's the truth. WM gets a lot in subsidies; so does everyone else. Does WM get more or less? We don't know. Does WM pay "poverty wages"? Yes, if you're an unskilled worthless drunkard with 12 children who can't keep any other position. And it will be your fault. Working as a stock boy or cashier at WM, it will be difficult to support your entire family. You should have thought of that a long time ago.

But, if you plan ahead, work hard and consisently, and show what you're worth, you will rise up in the ranks, and will not be earning "poverty wages".

Posted by Kevin on October, 28 2004 at 12:56 PM