Facing South

Taxpayers Pay for Wal-Mart's "Low Road"

Of the many ways that Arkansas-based Wal-Mart endangers the public interest, one of the most insidious is how, by paying its workers low wages with almost no benefits, they force tens of thousands of employees to rely on state and federal public assistance programs to make ends meet.

In other words, Wal-Mart -- one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world -- is forcing taxpayers to underwrite the costs of their business to the tune of billions of dollars.

Good Jobs First, an excellent advocacy group for "high road" development, has released a survey about how many workers and their families are forced onto Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs in different states to make up for Wal-Mart's dead-end jobs. Some disturbing results from the South:

ALABAMA: The Montgomery Advertiser found in February 2005 that families of Wal-Mart workers are the top dependents on Medicaid. 3,864 children of Wal-Mart employees depend on Medicaid for health insurance. The next highest company, McDonald's, has 1,615 employee's children on the program.

FLORIDA: In December 2004, the Tallahassee Democrat revealed that 50,000 workers and their dependents rely on Medicaid for health insurance. McDonald's was the worst culprit in the Sunshine State, with 1,792 claims filed. Wal-Mart had 756.

GEORGIA: 10,261 children of Wal-Mart workers rely on PeachCare for Kids, the state's program for low-income families, according to a February 2004 report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

TENNESSEE: 25% of Wal-Mart workers in Tennesse are enrolled in TennCare, the state's health plan for the poor and uninsured, according to a January 2005 investigation by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. That's 9,617 employees.

WEST VIRGINIA: The Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail revealed last December that 452 Wal-Mart workers in the state have children dependent on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the most of any company.

(Note: this isn't just a Southern thing, of course. The survey also looks at reports out of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. And I notice a story out today showing that 845 Wal-Mart employees in Iowa rely on Medicaid for health insurance.)

Most disturbing of all is that Wal-Mart is driving up public assistance caseloads at the very time state lawmakers are demanding sharp cuts in these programs. For example, Tennessee's excellent TennCare program is under assault due to rising costs (in part caused by Wal-Mart and kindred companies), with proposed cuts that could strip thousands of health coverage.

And as if that isn't bad enough, an earlier report by GJF shows that state and local governments have given Wal-Mart subsidiaries over $1 billion in tax breaks and other "incentives" to set up their stores -- money the company clearly doesn't need.

So the public is paying twice -- in direct corporate welfare, and indirect costs from workers driven into poverty -- to subsidize a giant company that's swimming in profits, exploits workers, busts unions, drains community resources, exacerbates urban sprawl, violates human rights abroad, and otherwise violates the public trust.

Where's the "moral values" crowd when you need them?



People Referenced:


re: Taxpayers Pay for Wal-Mart's "Low Road"

on Wal*Mart's China web page!

"Wal-Mart China persists in local procurement which provides more job opportunities, supports local manufacture industry and promotes local economy. So far, 95% of merchandising sold at Wal-Mart China store are local products by which Wal-Mart has established business relations with nearly 20,000 suppliers. At Wal-Mart, we treat suppliers as partners and would like to develop with them. In 2008 Wal-Mart won the Supplier Satisfaction published by Business Information of Shanghai for five consecutive years."

That doesn't support American exports and American jobs.

Remember what Lance Winslow wrote in tat article "The Flow of Trade in a Global Economy"....dang! better yet...jus take the time and read tis ...."Now let us look at Wal-Mart again; you buy a product there, 6% goes to the employees, 10-18% is profit to the company, 25% goes to other costs and 50% goes to re-stock or the cost of goods sold. Of the 50% about 20-25% goes to China, a guess, but you get the point. Now then, how long will it take at 433 Billion dollars at year for China to have all of our money, leaving no money flow for us to circulate? At a 17 Trillion dollar economy less than 40-years minus the 1/6 they buy from us. Some say that if we keep putting money into our economy, it would take forever, but if we do not then eventually all the money flow will go. If China buys our debt then eventually they own us, no need to worry about a war, they are buying America, due in part to our own mismanaged trade, so whose fault is that? Not necessarily China, as they are doing what's in the best interests, and we should make sure that trade is not only free, but fair too."

Also, think for a moment about George Washington....yes the man tat is on the US dollar bill.... "Washington had been reelected unanimously in 1792. His decision not to seek a third term established a tradition that is now embedded in the 22d Amendment of the Constitution.

Take the time to read his farewell address after only eight years of serving his country and than ask yourself tis....How do you think George feels being sent overseas in return for all tat foreign so-call cheap items and being left in a foreign bank because the American worker doesn't make anythig for the foreigners to buy. Cheap items didn't make tis great union of 57...oops! 50 states the greatest place on the face of tis Earth.....the American worker (union and non-union) did.

You can't have a strong country without having a strong currency and you can't have a strong currency unless you keep it floating around within your 50 states. Tis is why the store with the star in the name puts 95% China made items in their stores in China....to keep their "yuan" in their country helping the nice people there. And with only 5% left for all the other 182 country's tat make stuff including the United States of America....tat doesn't produce very many jobs outside of China.

Being an old person myself and knowing how it wus back in the 40's, 50's and 60's in tis union of 50 states....I look at George each time I pull him out of my billfold and make a promise to send him out for items made in America so after floating around helping each hand he touches jus maybe one day he will shake mine again.


and don't forget about those 15 cargo ships that pollute as much as 760 million automobiles.....yes.......760 million.

and the $9 billion in hidden taxes that all Americans pay to clean fish from ballast tanks of ships.

Cheap items ain't chic and they cost American jobs.