The high cost of low prices


Remember those articles I’ve linked to in the past detailing how quite a few people currently receiving welfare and government assistance were working poor?

Here’s another data point:

Walmart’s wages and benefits are so low that many of its employees are forced to turn to the government for aid, costing taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.75 million per store, according to a report released last week by congressional Democrats.

Walmart’s history of suppressing local wages and busting fledgling union efforts is common knowledge. But the Democrats’ new report used data from Wisconsin’s Medicaid program to quantify Walmart’s cost to taxpayers. The report cites a confluence of trends that have forced more workers to rely on safety-net programs: the depressed bargaining power of labor in a still struggling economy; a 97 year low in union enrollment; and the fact that the middle-wage jobs lost during the recession have been replaced by low-wage jobs. The problem of minimum-wage work isn’t confined to Walmart. But as the country’s largest low-wage employer, with about 1.4 million employees in the US—roughly 10 percent of the American retail workforce—Walmart’s policies are a driving force in keeping wages low. The company also happens to elegantly epitomize the divide between the top and bottom in America: the collective wealth of the six Waltons equals the combined wealth of 48.8 million families on the other end of the economic spectrum. The average Walmart worker making $8.81 per hour would have to work for 7 million years to acquire the Walton family’s current wealth.

We are effectively subsidizing a business model that is making 6 people very rich at our expense and at the expense of their employees.

But let’s not suggest taxing those 6 individuals a lot more to cover that cost, because then they might stop creating new jobs which will cost us more to subsidize.

There is a class warfare going on, and you and I have lost.

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