Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Wal-Mart and the concentration of wealth

Title: Wal-Mart stands out on rolls of PeachCare
Source: Atlanta Journal
Date: February 27, 2004

From the article:
    A snapshot of Georgia's program for uninsured children shows that it's packed with kids of Wal-Mart employees. A state survey found 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores.
Wal-Mart is the nation's largest private employer. Yet we cannot point to Wal-Mart with pride and hold it up as a shining example of America at its best. Instead, people fear Wal-Mart because it is creating an army of employees so poor that they cannot provide health care for themselves or their children. As the largest company in the U.S., Wal-Mart also says to other companies, "if you want to be as successful as Wal-Mart is, you need to treat your employees like Wal-Mart does." The way Wal-Mart treats its employees, quite clearly, is to sink them into poverty and welfare.

Also from the article:
    "Most employees who make $7 to $8 an hour can't afford health insurance," said Cindia Cameron, organizing director of 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women. "When a very wealthy employer passes off to taxpayers what is rightfully a labor force cost, that's a serious public policy problem."
This is as simple as the concentration of wealth gets. Wal-Mart pays its shareholders $1.3 billion in dividends each year (much of that going to a handful of insiders). The company owns and operates 20 private jets for its executives. The president of Wal-Mart made $21 million in 2002 [ref], appoximately 1,500 times more than a typical rank and file employee. It is safe to say that there are a number of top executives making millions more. And so on. These vast amounts of money could just as easily be distributed to employees. Instead of providing employees with real jobs, Wal-Mart is a machine to concentrate wealth at the top. See this page for further details.

Wal-Mart will continue to concentrate vast amounts of wealth in this way. Other companies will follow Wal-Mart's example and do the same. American workers will become more and more impoverished. This will continue until it becomes so perverse that Americans see what is happening and demand a fundamental restructuring of the nation's wealth.


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