Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Live From the Road: After 34 days on the bus...

I asked the WakeUp WalMart organizers what they thought of the tour so far, after thirty four days on the road visiting community after community. They told me it's "one of those rare experiences you have in life" - the kind where you really feel like you're reaching out and making a difference.

Almost everywhere they go, they said, they get a positive reaction - even in really conservative areas of the country. People show concern for many different issues - from the outsourcing of jobs to healthcare.

It's not a traditional partisan debate - WalMart has brought people from very diverse backgrounds together who are worried about the direction the company is taking.

Even the WalMart truck drivers they pass on the road in Smiley give a friendly thumbs up or honk to show their appreciation.

In fact, it seems the only people who have reacted negatively are critics like Robert Samuelson of Newsweek, who wrote:
On any list of major national concerns, the "Wal-Mart problem" would not rank in the first 50. Why, then, are some leading Democratic politicians spending so much time talking about it? People who ask that question may conclude that Wal-Mart, though a tempting target as a political symbol, is mostly a diversion from weightier issues where what politicians think and do really matters.
Obviously, critics like Robert Samuelson and Sebastian Mallaby are dead wrong in their analysis. They're completely out of touch. They don't know what real people are going through.

How Samuelson could possibly write that the "Wal-Mart problem would rank in the first 50...on any list of major national concerns" is certainly beyond me. WalMart is America's biggest retailer, with thousands of stores nationwide and 1.39 million employees. The company made $11.2 billion dollars in profit last year.

Every decision the company makes has a profound impact on our nation's economy, on state budgets, on the environment, on healthcare costs, and so on.

The opposite of what Samuelson wrote is the actual truth: WalMart is one of the biggest national concerns there is.

And here is the third intallment of WalMart Facts. I'll be posting a new factsheet with each post I write.

Wal Mart Costs Taxpayers

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

  • The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]
  • One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:
    • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
    • $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
    • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
    • $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
    • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
    • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
    [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

Health care subsidies compared to executive compensation

  • Excluding his salary of $1.2 million, in 2004 Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made around $22 million in bonuses, stock awards, and stock options in 2004.
  • This $22 million could reimburse taxpayers in 3 states where Wal-Mart topped the list of users of state-sponsored health care programs, covering more than 15,000 Wal-Mart employees and dependents. [Wal-Mart Proxy Statement and News Articles GA, CT, AL].

Your tax dollars subsidize Wal-Mart's growth

  • The first ever national report on Wal-Mart subsidies documented at least $1 billion in subsidies from state and local governments.
  • A Wal-Mart official stated that “it is common” for the company to request subsidies “in about one-third of all [retail] projects.” This would suggest that over a thousand Wal-Mart stores have been subsidized. [“Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth,” Good Job First, May 2004]
You can also download this in PDF.

<< Home