Wednesday, December 04, 2013

My Take on the Walmart Situation

Yup, I'm a socialist at heart. I don't think anyone's work is very different than anyone else's work in terms of value. Yes, a heart surgeon is vital and should be compensated for the schooling costs and so forth. But then a dishwasher in a New York restaurant keeps a couple of hundred people a night from getting ill by keeping that water really hot and standing in place for hours. Seems important to me.
    And no, I don't think everyone should make the same money. But I do think there ought to be limits. How to do that? I don't know. But the current example is the Walton family, six of whom own 49 percent of the Walmart chain and whose combined wealth of about $100 billion (give or take, depending on who you talk with) is equal to the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent or so of all the families in the U.S.
    Fairly obscene to me. Particularly when you realize they pay their workers an average of $8.81 per hour nationwide. Those workers, doing fairly menial stuff that's done in stores may not seem to be worth more than that to some people. But what the heck, the stores are open 24 hours a day, most stocking is done at night, so a lot of those people are not with their families at night. That means something to me. And then a lot of those people are unloading those big trucks of heavy material; others are working in near freezing conditions in the refrigerator rooms and so forth. And all the check out people are standing on their feet all day. All of that makes those jobs pretty hard, and so, given that there is a good profit from the business, you'd think they might share in it. At least I would. (My team of 12 who work with me on my trips to the jungle get triple the basic Peruvian wage, plus food and walking around money--even on trips where paying that will mean I will go home having lost two or three thousand dollars.)
      Okay, but here are the figures: Walmart has 1 million hourly workers in the US. Those workers cost an average of $2,100 per person in government services, which comes to $2.1 billion dollars annually. That's a lot of cheese you and I are picking up to keep the Walton's wealthy, don't you think?
      What if the Waltons, starting on January 1, gave every one of those million hourly workers a $100 per week raise? That would come to $100 million a week. Or $5.2 billion a year. Whoa! That's a lot of dough!!! Where would that come from?
      Well, it would come from the better than $16 billion profit the company makes. Which would still leave the Waltons and the other Walmart owners a $10.8 billion pie to cut. Remember that the Waltons get half of that so each of the six of them would still earn close to a billion a year.
      But you and I wouldn't have to foot nearly the bill for government services for those million hourly workers if they were each making $5,200 per year more. And those workers would probably love getting off food stamps and such--because nobody likes to be on food stamps and such.
      So yeah, I'm sort of a socialist that way. I definitely think the Waltons make too much given how their workers are paid.

No comments: