The Waltons of WalMart fame and not the ones of television fame, are among the richest Americans in the United States, if not the richest. They employ over 1.4 million Americans (that’s 1% of the American work force!) who work for them in their more than 4,100 stores nation wide. Their average employee earns $11.43 per hour and most employees earn less than $25,000 per year.
As a result of Walmarts low average employee wage many of their workers are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded programs through public assistance costs, including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing. These expenses cost the taxpayers an estimated 6 billion dollars each year even though Walmart earns a yearly profit upwards of 15 billion dollars. In fact a Walmart spokesperson even told analysts last year that Walmart has even captured 18 percent of the SNAP market (food stamps) and that the company accounted for $13.5 billion out of $76 billion in food stamp sales in 2013. That’s 18% of the subsidy that we the taxpayers pay because companies like Walmart under pay their workers. Walmart just can’t lose!
And to be fair to Walmart, many other large U.S. retailers have a similar percentage of their workers who receive Medicaid and Food stamps etc. at taxpayer expense…and at the same time these giant corporations and retailers are also taking billions and billions of dollars a year in tax breaks that also subsidize their low-wage businesses – and add to their profits…not to mention special trusts and tax loop holes that save them even more billions of dollars in taxes that they would otherwise have to pay to the U.S. government.
But can you blame these rich companies and their owners for the billions of dollars they pass on to the taxpayers? Everything they do is legal and in accordance with federal laws, rules and regulations as set forth by the United States Congress. Of course they could very simply raise their employee wages and help bring those employees out of poverty and pay more taxes on their billions of dollars of annual income… all in an effort to be more… Patriotic? American? Fair? Philanthropic? Christian?…but really, why should they?
Walmart’s motto is “Save money. Live Better.” And even though most Walmart workers probably shop there too, I’m willing to bet that in the long run they are not very successful at saving any money at all… or live better for that matter. Perhaps Walmart’s motto is a bit tongue in cheek as in: Walmart saves money and the Walton’s live better.
So now here is my question to you:
If a Walmart employee, (or any other employee of a similar retail or fast food chain) after a long hard day, or week, or month, or lifetime, of work, walks into a grocery store and purchases a T-Bone steak and large bottle of orange soda and uses their government issued food stamps to pay for it…Do you have a problem with that?
I don’t, because a steak and a nice sugary soda might just be all of the “better living” they’re going to get… but many people do have a problem with that. And when they cast their votes this November it will be for a politician who is promising to cut food stamps and limit the freedom of choice of those who need to spend them, while also promising to make it easier for companies like Walmart to increase their profits through new tax cuts and other new tax “freedoms”.
Is that really the way for America and Americans to Save money and live better?