Walmart: Capitalism Gone Wrong

Community+and+labor+groups+demonstrate+outside+a+Walmart+store+in+Lakeside+on+Black+Friday%2C+Nov.+29%2C+2013.+They+were+protesting+the+nation%27s+largest+retailer+on+the+busiest+shopping+day+of+the+year.+%0D%0A

RJ Sangosti. Denver Post

Community and labor groups demonstrate outside a Walmart store in Lakeside on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. They were protesting the nation’s largest retailer on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Oliver Ullman, Staff Reporter

Walmart, well-known for being one of the worst employers in the nation, has been berated from every demographic for it’s near-criminal treatment of it’s employees. Known for providing abysmal pay for its employees, taking out life-insurance policies on its workers, and then keeping it the payouts, and having a record number of its employees on welfare, Walmart is thought of as one of the most evil corporations in the country. Finally after years of record profits, monstrous sales, and cutting costs in every possible situation, Walmart finally decided to do something to help out it’s employees who live in poverty. What might it be? Increased wages? More benefits? Nope. It was a Thanksgiving food drive. For their own employees. That customers donate to. Seriously?

Walmart’s horrendous actions have rendered scathing insults and have caused them to be a focal point of income inequality criticisms. Contrary to popular belief, not all press is good press, and Walmart has been boycotted by citizens all across the nation. So, why wouldn’t they cave into pressure and help life their OWN employees out of poverty? Prices.

Critics, including myself, say Walmart’s wages are scandalously low, with the average Walmart employee needing to work 16 hours a day 365 days a year to make the median household income. Wal-Mart claims that if they raised their employees wages, prices would have to go up, losing them business. This has been repeated throughout the corporate world, justifying low wages and sub-par living conditions; causing those deeply discounted pants that Walmart sells to burst into flames. A new study titled “A Higher Wage is Possible”, shows Walmart could afford to raise the average pay for employees to a sizeable $14.89 an hour, almost twice the minimum wage, if they stopped the $7.6 billion a year they pay buying back their own stock. All that means is that instead of having more money going to the stupidly rich Walton family, who own more than 50 percent of the company, they would go to the more than one million Wal-Mart employees, without raising ANY of their prices.

It’s clear that almost all of Walmart’s effects including their low pay have a negative impact on society. This is not just a hunch, this opinion is supported by facts. In 2005, a study found that in metropolitan areas, Walmart eliminated similar jobs that paid about 18% more. In those areas, the average earnings of ALL retail workers fell by 0.5 to 0.8%, which in turn hurts the economy. If Wal-Mart really wanted to, it could reverse these effects by increasing worker pay, but that would require a company that takes out secret life insurance policies on its employees and then keeps all the money for themselves (not the employees family) if he/she dies to actually care about its workers.

Walmart is a big corporation with an even bigger effect on this country. If it wanted to, it could dramatically improve the pay for its employees without raising prices, but still the company allows its own employees to live below the poverty line while the owners get richer. If you took all the money from the bottom 40 percent of Americans, it still would be less than the six members of the Walton family of Wal-mart, who live in blatant hedonism. Think of the millions who are affected by the actions of those six people, whose apathy towards their customers and employees have handicapped communities.  Walmart is a plague upon the free market, a worst-case scenario of capitalism and the greed that comes from it, but hey, it’s all worth it for deep discounts on hiking boots, right?