The Wal-Mart Paradox

July 10, 2013

With annual revenues in the $450 billion range and a global workforce of more than 2 million, Wal-Mart can’t avoid being in the cross-hairs of labor advocates because it may be the world’s largest employer. And, there are consistent allegations of worker mistreatment.

Wal-Mart started with good intentions, it seems.

Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Ark. in 1962. The strategy was very simple: low prices and good quality. By 1967, the Walton family owned 24 stores, ringing up $12.7 million in sales.

As it grew, it seems the company may have lost touch with the mission.

Today, it seems that Wal-Mart has become a predator.

It seems that when Wal-Mart comes into a community, it builds a vast, low-rise supercenter — often on land that hadn’t been developed before Wal-Mart showed up.

The chain now has 698 million square feet of store space in the U.S., up from 530 million in 2005. Its U.S. stores and parking lots cover roughly 60,000 acres.

Beyond the negative environmental impact, Wal-Mart destroys local economies through its predatory pricing practices. It generally destroys and decimates local, family-owned businesses; it hires people right at the margin: low wages; variable work hours; marginal benefits.

Wal-Mart invariably is the beneficiary of huge direct public subsidies and benefits, which include: free land; infrastructure assistance; below market financing; outright grants from state and local governments around the country; and property tax abatements, often called PILOTS.

On top of that, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the healthcare costs of Wal-Mart employees who don’t receive coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid.

Today, the extreme wealth of Sam Walton’s family is shocking.

While most Americans have done our best to work hard, be honest, fair and ethical, there seem to be a few pirates who have a different agenda.

The Walton family is dripping in wealth — from ill-got gains? – and, if so, that really concerns me.

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