By: Christine Morabito – July, 2014
After years of harassment by special interest groups, Walmart is fighting back. As with most bullies, the claims they make have less to do with reality than with bolstering the tormentor’s self-esteem.
This was evident in Timothy Egan’s New York Times op-ed, June 19, 2014, entitled “The Corporate Daddy,” where Egan accused the company of paying “humiliating wages.” He claimed, “Working at Walmart may not make you poor, but it certainly keeps you poor.”
Responding to the NYT hit piece, Walmart’s David Tovar, Director of Corporate Communications, reposted Egan’s article, complete with snarky, red-inked edits in the margins. He began, “Thanks for sharing your first draft.” Tovar proceeded to dispute claim after baseless claim. It reminded me of the triumphant scene in “Napoleon Dynamite,” where the relentlessly mistreated protagonist earns a standing ovation for his dance moves.
With 2.2 million employees worldwide, Walmart is also the largest U.S. employer. The average full-time associate earns around $12 an hour, well above minimum wage. In 2013, the corporation was praised by First Lady Michelle Obama for announcing plans to hire 100,000 veterans. Last year they donated more than $1 billion to charity globally. They also offer education assistance and help associates who have been affected by catastrophic life events such as fire, divorce, death, etc. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the retailer sent truckloads of goods to help victims. Yet, their reputation is under constant attack.
The Washington Examiner reported that Walmart’s health insurance is not only more affordable than Obamacare, but it also offers better coverage, minus the income, age or gender restrictions. The retailer revolutionized the pharmacy industry by offering inexpensive prescription drugs with little to no co-pays for their employees. Still, nothing satisfies the bullies, intent on pushing Walmart down and taking their lunch money.
Walmart is known for their entry level positions. But starting wages are rarely static. According to their website, “About 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates, and they earn between $50,000 and $170,000 a year … Last year, Walmart promoted about 170,000 people to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.” This is a key point lost on the Walmart bashers — as people gain knowledge and experience they climb the economic ladder.
It is clear the Walmart smear campaign is a pastime mostly enjoyed by far left activists, unions, angered by the superstore’s refusal to unionize, and the politicians beholden to such groups. To protest the opening of Walmart stores in cities, like Brooklyn, New York and Boston, is to deprive consumers of a wide variety of quality goods at low prices. A 2011 NYT poll showed 62 percent of New Yorkers wanted a store in their neighborhood. In her blog, “Ghetto Economics & the Politics of Poverty,” Stephanie Davis writes: “In essence, Boston’s political class has turned its city limits into a type of food dessert or island in which the cost of goods is higher because of limited supply or lack of competition.”
Today’s trend is to be obsessed with the gap between the highest paid worker and the lowest. Of course there’s an income gap! But, we must also take into account the gap in initiative, experience and in some cases, education (all of which can be rectified). These things being equal, we could legitimately criticize the income disparity. If career politicians and intellectual elites had even a smidgen of experience in the private sector, they might understand how this works. Until then, they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near economic policy.
Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when we valued hard work and success in this country. Young people today are encouraged to vilify those who have more. It seems to me a childish and selfish way to view the world.
In my youth, I had many low paying jobs. When I got tired of being broke, I applied for student loans, studied hard and became a nurse. If I wanted more money, I could go back to school and become a nurse manager or even a surgeon. Here’s the thing: I don’t want to. I’d rather not put forth the effort or incur the associated expense. Do I resent doctors because they make more than me? Not at all. Do I march in the streets and demand the same salary as a physician? That would be absurd.
Instead of browbeating Walmart and coveting thy neighbor’s paycheck, maybe we should be inspiring people to educate and market themselves so they have skills employers need. I learned early in life that no one is going to pay me to sit around looking pretty.