Congressional Democrats released a study on Thursday that suggests Walmart likely costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year because their wages are so low, many of their workers must rely on food stamps and other government safety net programs.
The study was based on one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin, assumes most workers take advantage of the public assistance for which they qualify, and estimated a maximum cost of $900,000 in total public assistance.
Realistically speaking, the total amount likely comes for below this figure. However, once you figure in the total number of Walmarts in the country, and other stores that rely on many low-wage employees, it adds up to tens of thousands of families affected, and likely millions of dollars in government aid, with taxpayers picking up the tab.
This is not to knock the government safety nets themselves; this is what they are designed to do and workers have every right to apply for the programs for which they qualify. However, it does not change the fact that ideally, we want as few people on these programs as possible, and at the very worst, while low wage workers are just scraping by, Walmart executives are still reaping tons of money out of the business.
The government should be helping out people cover the basic necessities to live, but not padding the Waltons' wallets in the process.
Just like the Democrat's study says, Walmart's low-wage policies are a drag on our economy.
If the minimum wage were raised, less Walmart employees would be relying on less public assistance.
One of the major arguments against raising minimum wages is that it results in high prices for the consumers. Walmart would raise its prices to offset the additional wages it has to pay it's employees, right? And the higher prices is bad for the economy, goes the argument.
There's far more analysis that goes into this debate, and I would be in over my head if I tried to break it all down. But there's one aspect that I think often gets lost by both sides of the debate.
What they tend to ignore is that Walmart's prices are already so low that smaller stores are unable to compete. It's true that the cost of wages is a factor on prices, but so is competition, or the lack thereof. If anything is found to be the stronger factor on prices, in the real world, it always comes down to competition.
If Walmart is forced to raise its prices, other stores will be able to compete better. As the competition to Walmart increases, so will the pressure to keep prices low. If people loved a free market as much as they claim to, they would be in favor of the policies that would keep competition strong, not stifle it.
The minimum wage needs to be raised to levels that allow families to cover their basic necessities of life, maybe even afford to sleep soundly. In the real world, the perceived costs that people argue go with raising the minimum wage rarely live up to the actual costs that go with keeping an unliveably low minimum wage.
To the employees, to the customers, and to us, the average taxpayer.
Help change Walmart, and you help our entire country.
Aubretia Edick, a Massachusetts woman who earns $11.70 an hour and receives public assistance, food stamps, Section 8 housing, and state-funded health care, said her reliance on the safety net is one reason she plans to join the strikes. “Walmart doesn't pay my salary,” she said. “You pay my salary.”
5:42 PM PT: Holy smokes, thanks for the Rescue and Repubs, all.