The Widdershins


Posted on: June 11, 2013


Rich visiting the poor

It seems those everyday low prices are costing you and me.  So, thank you kindly Walmart.

There was a study done  recently by congressional Democrats that took a look at one Walmart in Wisconsin.  The study found that wages were so low at Walmart that “associates” there have to use food stamps and other government aid to just meet their basic needs.  And as this article in HuffPo states, that’s a “a reality that could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 at just one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin.”

The study makes an assumption that most workers who qualify for assistance will make use  of that fact and get that assistance.  As the piece says it injects a point into the discussion going on about the minimum wage  where some Walmart workers and fast food workers are going on strike for higher wages.

The study by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and Workforce obtained Medicaid information from Wisconsin to “piece together the annual cost to taxpayers for providing a host of social safety net programs, including food stamps and publicly subsidized health care, to workers at one Supercenter in the state.”

The report stated that:

Walmart had more workers enrolled in the state’s public health care program in the last quarter of last year than any other employer, with 3,216 people enrolled. When the dependents of those workers were factored in, the number of enrollees came to 9,207.

(and that)

“When low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab,” the report says.

The report and the Huffpo piece state further that:

After accounting for the total number of Walmart stores and employees across the state and the per-person costs of BadgerCare, as the state’s health care program is known, the report’s authors estimated that the cost of publicly funded health care comes to $251,706 per year for a 300-employee Supercenter.

The report goes further counting in possible reduced lunches for children, energy assistance for low-income folks and the earned income tax credit, section 8 housing so that if those employees used all of those services  the report extrapolates that the final tab would top $900,000.

Now Walmart got its turn to say a few words and one mouthpiece uh spokesperson had this to say.

Unfortunately there are some people who base their opinions on misconceptions rather than the facts, and that is why we recently launched a campaign to show people the unlimited opportunities that exist at Walmart,” Buchanan said, noting that 75 percent of Walmart managers started as hourly employees. “Every month more than 60 percent of Americans shop at Walmart and we are proud to help them save money on what they want and need to build better lives for themselves and their families. We provide a range of jobs — from people starting out stocking shelves to Ph.D.’s in engineering and finance. We provide education assistance and skill training and, most of all, a chance to move up in the ranks.” [note:  you can click on that link up there and launch a … well see the thing yourself]

As I stated above the report was produced by the Democrats on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and is an updated version of a similar report produced in 2004 with data based on a 200-employee store and the costs then were around $400,000 in public assistance for employees.  Said Miller in a statement when the report was released:

“The labor policies of Walmart, and those of companies that emulate its low-road approach, end up leaving taxpayers holding the bag,” .

The HuffPo piece notes that

Critics have long denounced Walmart for paying such low wages that many workers are forced to take advantage of public-assistance programs like food stamps or Medicaid. (Notably, many Democrats who lament this scenario are strong backers of such programs.)  [and I wonder what’s wrong with that?]

In the study previously done in 2004 at California Walmarts at that time they found that the California Walmart employees “availed themselves of 38 percent more non-health, public-assistance money than workers at competing stores.”  That report was done by U.C. Berkely and had similar results as the committee’s 2004 study.

This report was done not just to give some congressional staffers something to do, but rather because Congr. Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin have crafted legislation to increase the federal minimum wage.  They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to inflation.

Obama too has proposed increases in the minimum wage with his plan raising the minimum wage to $9.00 by 2015.

I have to admit that I do shop at Walmart on occasions.  Those occasions being mainly between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m.  In this little burg, the Walmart is the place to be on a Friday night presumably after the hordes have been to all of the local restaurants filling them up and then want to just walk off that meal strolling through the aisles.  The nonchalant postprandial stroll among the herd is not for me.  I have a list with things on it that I want to get, and then get out.  So my visits at the witching hour normally leave me encountering the employees who are stocking the shelves.  The employees I’ve seen are cordial and nice people.  And if you have a question about where an item is they are happy to tell you the aisle it’s on or even walk you over to it.  Maybe they are just making the best of a bad situation of where they work and what they earn.  However, I’m sure that if you were to offer them the chance to earn an additional $1.25/hr or such that they’d jump at it.

I have my doubts about whether Harkin and Miller are going to get anything done with an increase in the minimum wage.  Not with the House in the hands of the Republicans.  The House version of the bill will quietly get buried in some subcommittee or something and even if the Senate version passes, it will never get through the House.

Oh and on those employees at Walmart that I’ve seen, I’ve never seen this guy or his equivalent.

Perhaps he works on the day shift.

And I’ve never seen these people either:

Nah, the one’s I’ve seen have been more like these folks:  [NSFW]

NOTE:  The painting up top is called Visiting a poor people by Vladimir Makovsky and you can read about it here.

This is an open thread.



Those low, low standards might be an alternate title.

Hmmm…I tried to tweet this but I’m not seeing that it tweeted.

And i see that those low, low standards might just apply to this post too! LOL!! I notice that Prolix was not around yesterday. it could be he’s on assignment to go get the NSA leaker! 😯

Hope he packed his corks.

You know chat, I think I did better when I did the “caption this pic” post. Maybe I should go back to that. 😉

@3, I am not now nor have I ever been a cork smuggler. I am required by Ernest and Julio Gallo to post that disclaimer every so often.

Sorry I wasn’t around yesterday — I was otherwise occupied, but not on Wall Street.

Fredster, this is an excellent pickup. I would love it if all these communities where the government grants TIF credits for these megastores also were required to take into consideration the government assistance to which the blue vest wearers were entitled because of the pitiful salaries and their recalcitrant employment practices — like stealing hours from their female register workers. That is why they fought all the way to the Supreme Court to eliminate the disincentive for employees to band together in class action suits.

Where else but Bentonville would you have an office hallway dedicated to marketing to women with families and around the corner another hallway dedicated to stealing payroll from women with families? And around the corner from that a hallway of attorneys dedicated to legal maneuvering in order to make sure other Heritage Foundation Koch suckling businesses could make it nigh impossible for women with families to seek legal redress for workplace wrongs?

Nerve successfully hit!

Fredster, love this post. I remember that earlier study, and laker had to watch documentaries about Walmart and do a report on them when he was in High School (the private school he was homeschooling through was very liberal), so I don’t shop at Walmart, which is easy since there aren’t any near me. It seems pretty unfair that the rest of us to have to contribute to the subsidizing of their poor employees, while the owners are the richest people in the country. Funny how the repubs seem to forget about that when they’re bitching about “entitlements”.

There is a big warehouse store near us called Costco. You have to pay 50 bux per year membership or something and the stuff they sell is large containers or shrink wrapped multiple items, so great for savings if you have a large family and lots of storage space (which I do not). Anyway, they pay their employees a decent wage and provide health insurance, so Walmart could do it if they weren’t so freaking greedy.

That bathing suit vid is hilarious/gross! Reminds me of Uppitys Black Friday at Walmart special posts!

Prolix, LOL re your comment at end of thread thread yesterday!

@prolix and socal: As i said in the post, I do go to the local “wallyworld” but really, no more than I have to. The have to stuff is my morning/breakfast pastry things. Most of the other types of stuff that Walmart offers, I can also get at the local kmart. Kmart may not have as big a selection but at least I’m not contributing to the net worth of the Walton family. And as i said, the employees I’ve dealt with at the local Walmart store have always been extremely nice and polite.

Socal, I had second thoughts about putting that youtube up with the “people of walmart” stuff, but I’m far more likely to run into those folks than I am the engineer, accountant etc. that’s in the Walmart commercial.

Prolix said: Koch suckling businesses

Luv it! 😆

And also, as I said in my post, I have no realistic optimism that either Obama’s minimum wage increase or Harkin/Miller’s have a chance in hell of passing. The repubs will bury the House bill.

Oops,forgot this for socal. Costco is building a new store in Nola which I think opens later this year. I’ve seen some tv pieces and some articles about how much better they pay their employees. I look forward to going there. So I’ll have a case each of peas, green beans and corn. it won’t go bad. 😉

great post Chat so true I shop at walmart as little as I can. I don’t want to contribute to our nations race to the bottom!

Sorry I men Fredster great post Chat great comment I agree 100%

fuzzy@11: No problem. Good to see you! How’s it coming with your stove?

We got a new stove I am having trouble getting used to a stove that works have burnt a few thing in the overn

Fuzzy@13: LOL! You’ll get used to it.

Fredster I got home late tonight but wanted to let you know I loved the post.

Yay for Warren Buffet!

Thanks Mary Luke, I appreciate that. 🙂

Fred – obama’s walmart appointment:

Hillary’s time on the board has a long and solid explanation – btw.

(Arkansas roots, back then Made in America was the focus, she promoted women and fair pay and worker rights, she was respected by but pissed off the walmart execs…. etc)


karen@18: I liked Leo Hindery’s comments in that alternet article;

Yes, Walmart has lowered prices for American customers, though not as much as Furman claims, but it has also helped to kill the American labor movement which ensures workers a fair shake, it has helped to send jobs overseas, and it has instilled practices, like relying on part-time employees whose wages are so low they can’t sustain themselves without relying on government assistance, that spread misery everywhere. In the maniacal quest to lower prices, it has pioneered the use of ever-cheaper materials and lowered the quality of consumer goods.

Hillary’s time on the board? Eh…she was the wife of the governor and it was an Arkansas company, just like Tyson so I see it more as politics than anything else and that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

Hey! Good to see you here. Come around more often!

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