Government Subsidized Poverty

Michelle Jones asks: The real question is, why aren’t you supporting the Walmart strike?

Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world,  the largest private employer in the country, employing 1.2 million Americans, and has reported annual profits of $13 billion. So you’d think it would be save for the government to stop subsidizing it now, right?

Let me explain. It seems that some 80% of Walmart workers are on food stamps. So much for 20th century workers  rights. Since Wal-Mart,generally doesn’t pay its associates enough to live on the giant multi-national corporation is relying on the U.S. government to feed its employees, and we taxpayers pay for Wal-Mart’s cost-cutting tactics.

Furthermore, adding insult to injury, consider how many of its employees use their food stamp cards to buy groceries at the same Walmart in which they work. So why does a successful firm like Wal-Mart feel entitled to benefit from government handouts?

Why American Conservatives Support Corporate Socialism

Corporatist politicians not only approve, but would like to even cut wages further. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) testified in 2005 to the Minnesota Senate that if we eliminated the minimum wage, we could wipe out unemployment. What kind of logic is this? Tina DuPuy of the Cagle Post calls it “welfare check money laundering.” She explains:

Yes, instead of paying one person eight dollars an hour which makes him eligible for food stamps and (in some cases) Medicaid – let’s pay eight people one dollar an hour and they can be eligible for food stamps, Medicaid AND General Assistance. Basically, allow the government to take care of the work force so private industry can have the profit. This is corporate welfare. This is also corporate socialism. The government covers what Wal-Mart gets away with not covering.

The Real Welfare Queens

Tina goes on to skewer elitist conservative politicians like Bachmann who pretend to be anti government when they are in fact just working to redistribute wealth upward:

Bachmann, who hopped on the tea party bandwagon when it first rolled out on socialized roads, has decried the government even though her family farm and husband’s clinic have received government money. Bachmann denied this money has benefited her personally; her financial disclosure forms completelycontradict that statement. Bachmann and the tea party are like a 30-year-old who lives comfortably in the family home while railing against parental tyranny and bemoaning the mediocrity of the meals his mother cooks.

Why They’re Striking

Michelle Jones explains why Walmart workers are in revolt.

The reason workers at 1,000 Walmart stores across the country will go on strike on Black Friday has nothing to do with the retailer opening on Thanksgiving; it has everything to do with demanding a fair wage from a company earning $16 billion last year alone.

The company reported a 9 percent increase in earnings in 3Q 2012, to $3.6 billion.

One-third of Walmart workers work less than 28 hours per week and never qualify for those bright, shiny benefits touted on the company’s website. Walmart places heavy emphasis on keeping wages down, even for stellar employees. The average pay increase that a perfect Walmart employee can expect is around 40 cents per hour, according to leaked documents. The average Walmart worker earns just $8.81 per hour, which for a family of four amounts to 70 percent of the poverty line.

The United States Of Walmart

Further,Walmart wields enormous influence throughout the economy with its tremendous bargaining and lobbying power, as well as buying power and influence, which carries over to employment tactics used by other businesses to keep costs down and boost revenue. She cites a recent story posted by Huffingtonpost.com:

In order to deal with competition from Walmart, other retail outlets have been forced into a reduction in wages and benefits across the board,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

Other large retailers are watching the strike and will likely respond by stagnating wages as well just to compete with Walmart.

The Daily Kos‘ Laura Clawson brings it home:

If Walmart is such an amazing employer, with a majority of full-time workers, paid an average of $12.40 an hour (that’s $25,792 a year, by the way), why, in state after state, does Walmart lead the list of employers whose workers receive public assistance?

If Walmart is so good to its workers, what’s with all the gender discrimination lawsuits? Did the union put thousands of women up to falsely claiming discrimination? What about wage theft and safety violations all up and down Walmart’s supply chain? Did the union get a wide range of government agencies to fine Walmart and the contractors it tightly oversees for stuff that never happened? For that matter, at Walmart’s own stores? In recent years, Walmart has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle wage theft charges.

Stand with Walmart workers this Black Friday.

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