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Yet another calculation finds that Walmart could pay its workers a living wage without having to raise prices significantly. Last fall, the progressive think tank Demos concluded that Walmart could pay workers $14.89 an hour without raising prices, just by ending stock buybacks. Now, a Marketplace and Slate report finds that Walmart could pay workers a living wage of $13.63 and only raise the price on a box of mac and cheese by a penny:
This calculation of Walmart's wages and pricing comes as part of a report on food stamps—the original question was, basically, how much would Walmart have to pay its workers to raise them out of eligibility for nutrition assistance, and what effect would that have on prices? The answer is Walmart can afford to pay, and most consumers wouldn't even notice the price increases—which might not even be that big, if Walmart also had increased business from low-wage workers who could suddenly afford to spend more, or if the company decided not to pass the full cost along to consumers. (After all, Walmart is profitable enough for all those stock buybacks.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wonder if we are approaching this (18+ / 0-)

    …from the right end.

    Should it not be the case that corporations are billed by the states and feds for the services their full time employees use to survive?

    To me, that cuts to the chase -- and bypasses all the kabuki about living wages.

    Government reimbursement from the corporations who drain the treasury by not providing enough wages for workers to afford such human rights as food, shelter, and health care -- is the way we should go.

    •  The Way We Used to Do It Is Not Let Them (14+ / 0-)

      pay so little.

      First, corporate income tax was higher so it encouraged them not to sit on cash. 2nd, upper individual tax was vastly higher, discouraging extreme compensation for management & ownership, leaving more in the business again available for employee compensation, supplier prices etc. to avoid biz income taxes.

      And so many other regs including import tariffs, anti trust and such, that discouraged extreme profitability thereby encouraging more share the wealth.

      The question to ask is not how do we get workers off food stamps, it's when do we restore the economy for the people we already know perfectly well how to run and which we've spent half a century surrendering to the nobility?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 02:16:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Enh... just dust off the RICO Act. (11+ / 0-)


      Wal-Mart has been shown to engage in predatory business practices, such as radically undercutting local businesses and bullying suppliers into lowering wholesale costs.  You know, the kind of things the Mafia were known for.

      Once they are the "only game in town" (which usually means they're the only major employer at that point) the population is dependent on them not only for supplies, but for sustenance.  

      It'd be interesting to see stats on new applications for food stamps/welfare, against a timeline of Wal-Mart opening a store and other businesses closing.

      The Rich and Spoiled 1%'ers are making the Biker Gang 1%'ers look a lot better than they used to.

      by dcnblues on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:27:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What Medication are you on? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness, Pluto

      Because I would like to ask my Doctor about it;  But it probably is NOT a Walmart $4 scrip, which is all I can afford....

      Seriously, Walmart has platoons of lawyers and lobbyists to avoid just that.  Fly into NW Arkansas Regional Airport, you can look down on their McMansions.

      At some point, we have to invoke RICO and Anti-Trust and break the company up, they have become far to dominant in the National Retail Space.

      (Who do you think I am referring to as the Great Satan of Retail?)

      In the dark shadow of the Great Satan of Retail

      by OzarkOrc on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:59:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, but you forget: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, OooSillyMe

    If a corporation raises 300 million dollars in new revenue, corporate 'ethics' require they give it back to their shareholders, because it is only 'ethical' to increase return on investment if you have spare money.

  •  It's not about the money. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, skybluewater, allie4fairness

    Some engines run on cruelty.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:28:24 PM PDT

  •  My last Walmart experience. (15+ / 0-)

    And I do mean my last.  My very last.

    I never shop at Walmart.  My grocery shopping begins at a locally owned supermarket that's UFCW.  It continues at a locally owned butcher shop.  It finishes up at our amazing city market and two farmers' markets.

    But last week, my wife had a non-grocery item she was sure was better-priced at Walmart.  There was grocery shopping to do, and I needed to pick up some things at Home Depot (I know--I hate 'em) at the same mall, so we went.

    We picked up a basket full of goods and headed for the checkout.  It was the first of the month, so here in food stamp country, there were tons of shoppers.

    There were four lines open.  Four fucking lines.  There must have been 15+ people in every line.

    I left the basket, with meat and dairy products inside, and walked out the door.  Now my wife even agrees that Walmart shows such contempt for its workers and its customers that it must be avoided at all costs.

    I then went back to my local unionized supermarket where every checkout lane was open (8 lanes in a much smaller store).  No wait even though the aisles are always very crowded at the first of the month.  My pal Naomi checked me out as we chatted about the end of a bitter winter.  The owner, Bert--who's 70+--bagged the groceries, and when I thanked him, he thanked me and patted me on the hand.  Then my bud Malcolm caught me up on his family as he helped me take the groceries out to the car.

    Avoid Walmart at all costs.  It's a dehumanizing experience.

    That sure as hell wasn't like Walmart.

    •  Amen to that. My first and last time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howabout, allie4fairness

      in a Wal-Mart was probably about 25 years ago.  

      Just curious though: were you irritated by "food stamp" country?

      "Why you sockdologizing ol' mantrap, you!"

      by ejoanna on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:56:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That aroused my curiosity too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  I live in food stamp country. (6+ / 0-)

        We're all poor where I live.  Stores thrive the first two weeks of the month and are nearly empty the last two.

        The difference is how we're treated by the local stores as opposed to Walmart.  The local supermarket has more people working the first two weeks.  Everything moves smoothly.  The local butcher has a "number person" who hands out numbers that are called.

        Walmart thumbs its nose at us.  One can imagine the Waltons laughing at how they put four clerks to serve hundreds of people at the beginning of the month.  "Let 'em stand in line.  They don't have anything better to do."

        •  Didn't want to be rude, just to understand (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allie4fairness, FindingMyVoice

          the remark.  I get the Walmart thing.  Ugh. I try to use local businesses myself.  And will pay more to do so: both to help these people who are the backbone of the community, and have been for a long time, but also to feel I get some respect.
          Obviously Walmart is happy to make money off poorer people--and keep their own workforce poor.  Disgusting.
          And the GOP wanting to cut the food stamp program (Is the acronym now SNAP?) is beyond evil.

          "Why you sockdologizing ol' mantrap, you!"

          by ejoanna on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 12:21:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  For people out of work or part-time minimum-wage (0+ / 0-)

      jobs the few pennies saved at Walmart make a big difference.  Anyone who can afford local businesses needs to shop there.  Some places the local businesses have vanished.  
      Raising minimum wages would make Walmart compete on a more equal footing with local businesses.  Walmart employees could afford to buy other local goods and services if they got paid decently.  Local businesses would not be supporting Walmart with their taxes.

      •  I'd rather just see them gone. (0+ / 0-)

        They screw their suppliers, their workers and their customers.  The Walton family, still major stockholders, use their money in ways as bad as the Kochs.

        They can't be reformed.  I hope they collapse.

      •  And I don't agree about saving money there. (0+ / 0-)

        We shop sales at our locally owned, union supermarket.  Sale prices beat Walmart every time.  The local butcher shop is also way cheaper for meat, especially if you buy in quantity, and the quality is much better.

        Walmart is a rip-off all around.

        •  If there is a local grocery store that is not a (0+ / 0-)

          chain store it is better to shop there.  However, there are quite a few places where the choice is between Kroger or Walmart.  I am fully aware of the conduct of the Kochs and the Waltons.  Sam Walton demanded that stores have clean bathrooms and treated customers with courtesy.  The heirs are just interested in money.  

          Looking down in contempt on Walmart customers and employees will not give them better options.  Some places do not have a nearby grocery any more, much less a union grocery.  With the price of gas as high as it is now it is unreasonable to demand that poor families drive long distances for their groceries.  

          It is great that you live in a neighborhood where you have a choice to use a union grocery and a nice butcher shop, but criticizing poor people for their choices is not going to make the vote for the local Democrats.

          •  You've missed the point of this thread. (0+ / 0-)

            I live in a poor, ethnically diverse, urban neighborhood.  It's farther to drive to the suburban Walmart Superstore than to shop locally.  That's true for most poor people living in the city.  The stores where I shop are walkable for many of the poor.

            The choices we make affect us all.  Shopping at locally owned businesses and unionized business and avoiding multinational monsters like Walmart is one way we can help local workers and our communities over the long run.

            Then you accuse me of looking down on Walmart workers with contempt.  Where did I do that?  They're oppressed and they act like it.  I support all their efforts to unionize and win some rights against such an awful boss.

            But in the long run, the Walmart business model is what's to blame.  We'd be better off without it, and not shopping there is one way of helping bring that about.

  •  Deal-breaker question: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch, allie4fairness

    Is that $14.89 per hour on a full-time shift, or on a part-time shift (which I understand is what most Wal-Mart employees work)?

    "Soylent Green is people too, my friend!" Guess Who

    by oldmaestro on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:34:41 PM PDT

  •  Maybe change code (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skybluewater, RUNDOWN, OzarkOrc

    punish executives who suppress workers earnings.

  •  They won't, because there is no one to make them. (5+ / 0-)

    They would never voluntarily pay a living wage because they have no respect for their workers.  No one but the government could force them and they own the government.

    " Armageddon could be knocking at my door. But I ain't gonna answer that's for sure." - Kristian Bush, Jennifer Nettles, Kristen Hall

    by rustypatina on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:47:51 PM PDT

  •  But then the Waltons might only be worth... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Val, brn2bwild, skybluewater, RUNDOWN

    a mere 20 billion each and how could anyone expect them to live in such abject poverty?

    Sometimes I think people don't fully grasp how much wealth some of these people really have. Take the 40 billion number a few of the highest hover around. 40 billion is enough to spend 100 million (still a vast fortune) every year for 400 years, 20 generations. That 100 million is 2.5% of the principle meaning if you could find a modest 3% consistent return you could spend 100 million a year forever never ever even touching the original 40 billion.

    Its literally wealth beyond imagination.

    When the Republicans are in power they get what they want and when the Democrats are in power they still get what they want. At what point do people finally see it is just theater? ~ Me

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:49:31 PM PDT

    •  Obviously I have math problems and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      luckily went back to reread this because 100 mil can't last 400 years and be 2.5%. 100 mil is 0.25% meaning that 3% return would be a tidy profit (1.2 billion a year) forever.

      Its so much money its very easy to naturally understate its true vastness.

      When the Republicans are in power they get what they want and when the Democrats are in power they still get what they want. At what point do people finally see it is just theater? ~ Me

      by fToRrEeEsSt on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:03:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmmmmm. . . . (5+ / 0-)

    What if the Pope was a woman?

    Just assessing the odds.

    What if Walmart paid its workers a living wage?

    "Why you sockdologizing ol' mantrap, you!"

    by ejoanna on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:53:26 PM PDT

  •  What if Walmart paid its workers a living wage? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, FindingMyVoice

    It wouldn't be Walmart, would it?  

    The crappiest place on Earth!

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:03:26 PM PDT

  •  Why not go from the top down? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skybluewater, RUNDOWN, allie4fairness

    Fair Play Fair Pay.

    Why not pass legislation that stipulates the highest compensation any person in an organization can receive is 75 times the lowest compensation anyone in that organization receives.

    Yes - the legislation would have to prohibit end runs around the law.

    I would like to see the fortunes of the folks at the top directly tied to those at the bottom.

  •  "What if WalMart (3+ / 0-)

    paid a living wage?"

    The employees would probably just blow it all in the food aisle, the pharmacy, the optical shop...

    You know... stuff, junk...


    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:44:59 PM PDT

  •  They pay their drivers more than a living wage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know why that is. A friend of my husband just applied for a job driving for Walmart. They start at $75,000 a year.

    If you are a truck driver, it's better to work for Walmart than it is Costco.

    I don't get it.

    O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

    by Kevanlove on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:46:36 PM PDT

    •  That's changing too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The old man took good care of his workers, but he is gone now.

      Go to any Walmart DC and see far more contractor trucks/trailers and drivers than employee drivers- even at store deliveries which used to be exclusively company drivers.

      They've been cutting their (company) driver rolls for years, I however wish your husband luck with the job.

      “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

      by RUNDOWN on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:33:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Walmart is a wealth extraction machine (4+ / 0-)

    It sucks money out of everything.

    The neighborhoods where the Big Boxes stand are subsidizing them with services like roads, police, fire, etc. and you can bet Walmart demands concessions on taxes in exchange for 'creating jobs' wherever they can get away with it.

    Walmart sucks money out of the community, from shoppers whose money goes off to Bentonville, leaving as little as possible behind in the form of wages and local purchases, and from the local businesses it drives into bankruptcy.

    It sucks money out of its suppliers, demanding the lowest prices it can get in exchange for their business. It's a race to the bottom that ultimately ended up offshoring jobs.

    And what kind of greater social good does this result in? It lets Alice Walton play at Patron of the Arts. I suppose it beats having her running around running up more DWI charges and over the odd pedestrian or two.

    The rise of Walmart, I would guess, matches pretty closely the trajectory of the economy that has seen the greatest concentration of wealth since the Gilded Age. It's part and parcel of the financialization of the country, where immediate gain is all that matters, in the race to pile up as much money as possible.

    I think Charles P. Pierce's edged reminder of where the super-oblivious rich may find themselves one of these days is  looking more and more likely - if we don't cook the planet first.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:53:07 PM PDT

  •  Let's run the numbers, shall we? Last year... (3+ / 0-)

    Wall Mart netted after taxes and costs 18 billion (that's with a "B").  Take that number and then add up all of the employees of that corporation that work in the retail operations and multiply their total wages with total hours work (which average $8.25/hour.).  Add to all of the employees wages the difference of their wages to the actual number in dollars to raise them to a living wage and subtract that from the 18 billion:  What do you have left over from the 18 billion?

    Still a very handsome profit for any corporation.

    Why should we, the taxpayers pay Wal Mart's full time employees that have to supplement their wages just to get by with other social programs paid for by our taxes??

    18 billion is looking good to me to take that taxpayer money from.

    You agree?

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:46:39 PM PDT

  •  So, which is it? (0+ / 0-)

    America - the land of opportunity, right? Well, some would argue that it's more the land for opportunists. You see - ever since then president Ronald Reagan - supported by the likes of newly formed entities like The Heritage Foundation - ALEC - people like The Koch Brother - et al - began changing the rules - breaking unions - and taking down FDR's New Deal, we - who worked in and for the land of opportunity - saw it transformed to a land for opportunists.

    By the way - that's when we say the Glass-Stegall Act torn to shreds as well ... don't know what the Glass-Stegall Act was about? Let's just say that it was passed after the Great Depression - meant to stop bank from using your money to make risky investments ... sound familiar?

    The Republican way is for opportunists who own the GOP - not those among us who seek opportunity for real.

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