The current incarnation of the GOP is not your father’s Republican Party. These people are not fiscally responsible, and certainly not conservative. They’re really not that bright when it comes to economics. For some reason, they have convinced themselves that low wages are necessary for most companies to survive, and that is just insane. If it’s necessary to survive, then consider the example of Costco. They makes a higher profit per store than Walmart, and have for many years. Here’s another: the Washington, DC City Council proposed a minimum wage of $12.50 last year, and Walmart killed plans for three stores. There was no mass exodus of companies from the District; just Walmart. (By the way, they settled on $11.50, and there is still no mass exodus.) If low wages are so necessary to compete, why do so few companies pay the minimum wage? Fewer than 15 percent of all workers make less than $10 per hour, and small businesses that pay the minimum wage or less are actually at higher risk of failure. Most companies that pay at or around minimum wage are in the discount retail and fast food industries. Yet supermarket chains, which have a much higher union membership and pay higher wages against a much tighter profit margin, seem to do quite well.
This post is a comprehensive review of the education priorities of the Walton Family Foundation.
The Walton family has made many billions of dollars from the Walmart stores.
Walmart comes into a region and undersells every local retail store. In time, the mom-and-pop stores-beloved community institutions handed down in some cases from generation to generation- close their doors, and mom and pop become low-wage greeters at Walmart. The giant Walmart causes an implosion of Main Streets across the region where they are located, as working people shop for bargains and bypass their own community.
If the Walmart head office decides that the store is not making a big enough profit, the Walmart closes and goes elsewhere. It leaves behind dead small towns, towns without a local economy, because the local economy was sucked dry by the big Walmart. Whether the Walmart stays or goes, Main Street dies.
In education, the Walmart agenda is not dissimilar. The foundation supports charters and vouchers, though it prefers vouchers. It seeks to create schools that are non-union and that are able to skim off students from the local public schools. In time, the local public schools will die, just as the Main Street stores died.
They give generously to create an education marketplace of choices; the one “choice” they do not favor is the neighborhood public school. They underwrite major education media to be sure that their agenda gets favorable attention. They fund compatible researchers. They are strategic in their funding.
The Waltons and the Walton Family Foundation have gargantuan financial resources and can exert undue influence on politicians and public policy issues of their choosing. No matter where people come down on the issues of education reform or school choice, we can all agree it is unfair that the Walton family gets to dictate the future of public education because of the amount of money at its disposal, and to do so in a way that is unaccountable to the public.
In their marketplace of choices, the voucher schools and charters compete to get the “best” students.
The public schools take those rejected, excluded, or dumped by the charter and vouchers schools.
The end result: a dual system of schools, all publicly funded. One for the haves, another for the have-nots.
Embarrassed because sub-“living wage” stories often played in left leaning media outlets (including Mother Jones) to demonize companies such as MacDonalds and Walmart, the magazine had to clarify their position:
That’s actually not true, we’ve never advised interns or fellows to sign up for food stamps. It is true that the stipend level qualifies them for food stamps, as do most internships, and our HR director has, in the context of explaining their stipend, said as much, but we’ve never encouraged anyone to sign up.
Perhaps sensing that it wasn’t as satisfactory explanation, Mother Jones again clarified:
As a nonprofit investigative news organization, this is an issue that Mother Jones has always felt strongly about, which is why we have been paying our interns a substantive stipend longer than many the industry. It’s also why, as of January 1, our 2014 budget increases the base fellowship stipend to $1,500—an amount equivalent to slightly more than California minimum wage.
Which would put their new and improved intern wages pretty close to the hourly wage of the average chain fast food/big box retailer. Whom have been pilloried for suggesting to their employees that public assistance may be viable options to make ends meet.
It’s almost that magical time of year, where Americans engage in vertical food distribution, cheer the Cowboys getting in the end zone, and trample over one another in their quest to celebrate the birth of the flat screen TV. It’s also a time where mega corporations are supposed to be somewhat less a-holes. Well, maybe not if you’re McDonald’s. McDonald’s, in partnership with Visa, runs a financial planning website with a very Hallmark-y message for its low paid employees: eat smaller meals and sell those annoying Christmas gifts on Ebay.
Just when you thought McDonald’s learned its lesson after previously urging its employees to seek food stamps, the purveyor brightly colored crap that’s bound to not make your colon “not love it” appears to have simply tweaked its message. The McDonald’s website cares so much about your well-being, it doesn’t want you to waste your time eating a full meal. After all, who has time for that in these stressful times.
But what should we do about the upcoming holidays, ever-so wise McDonald’s website?
McDonald’s pays you enough to invest in a lovely one room dog house, so they certainly know how you can manage debt. Just in case you were thinking of either buying or receiving presents this year for Christmas, don’t. You work for McDonald’s; you should he happy enough. With that in mind, the McDonald’s website wants you to stop your complaining and sell your stuff on Ebay.
The American Family Association’s annual Naughty Or Nice list of companies is out. And as always, the annual renewal of War on Christmas panic is an opportunity to revisit how quick conservative organizations are to sell out their own purported values when the opportunity arises for them to get some publicity by doing so.
First, the measure of whether a company is pro-Christmas is hilariously divorced from any theoretical Christian values or expression of the Christmas spirit, and determined solely by marketing. “BLUE: An AFA ‘5-Star’ rated company that promotes and celebrates Christmas on an exceptional basis,” the list’s key explains. “GREEN: Company uses the term “Christmas” on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly. YELLOW: Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others. RED: Company may use “Christmas” sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.”
The only stated value, in other words, is how much retailers talk about Christmas. By this metric, a porn company, or one that kills Bengladeshi child laborers it’s stolen from their families as part of its production process, could issue a statement declaring its belief that Christmas is the most important holiday of the year, slap the term “Christmas” on all of its products, and earn at least a Green rating (though in the former case, the AFA would certainly step in to intervene). The AFA is ostensibly a Christian organization, but the way it determines what counts as naughty or nice rewards effectively companies for how intensely they commercialize the birth of Christ.
That potential for hypocrisy gets even clearer when we look at the list of “Companies For ‘Christmas’” in detail. Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Kmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Toys R Us all get passing grades from the American Family Association. They’re also stores that are opening at 6PM on Thanksgiving Day to jumpstart their Black Friday sales, a grotesque invasion of the commercial spirit into a day that’s supposed to be a celebration of America’s beginnings, and has historically been a nearly-universally observed holiday that gives families times together. That’s not even to mention the ongoing campaigns to win better treatment and wages for Walmart workers, an issue that an Ohio Walmart tacitly acknowledged in holding a food drive to supplement the pantries of its own needy employees.
Then, there are the companies that count as “marginal.” They include Uncommon Goods, which donates $1 per purchase through the Better To Give program to charities of consumers choices, including anti-sexual assault organization RAINN and City Harvest, which fights hunger in New York City. The company also tries to limit its catalogue distribution and use sustainable paper for those it does mail as part of forestry conservation efforts, and sells sustainable, recycled, and organic products. Apparently responsible consumerism doesn’t count for much in the AFA’s book, even though there are growing conversations about Christian imperatives to conserve.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that protects workers’ rights to organize and demand better conditions, will announce a decision today to prosecute Walmart for violating workers’ rights by firing, disciplining, and threatening workers who went on strike or attempted to unionize, according to OUR Walmart, the group that has been helping to organize the strikes.
The group says the NLRB will prosecute the company for illegally firing and disciplining more than 117 workers, including some who went on strike last June. It also includes threats by managers and spokespeople meant to discourage workers from striking. Workers could potentially see back pay, reinstatement to their former positions, and the reversal of disciplinary actions. Neither the NLRB or Walmart returned a request for comment by the time of publication.
Workers have gone on strike multiple times over the past year, with a wave of 400 walking out on Black Friday last year. The latest saw strikes in three cities over a week-long period. Workers have been demanding higher pay, more full-time work, and an end to retaliation.
But workers have repeatedly claimed that they are fired or disciplined for going on strike. The company itself has also admitted to threatening workers who look into forming unions that their benefits could disappear if they organize.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The storage containers are attractively displayed at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton. The bins are lined up in alternating colors of purple and orange. Some sit on tables covered with golden yellow tablecloths. Others peer out from under the tables.
This isn’t a merchandise display. It’s a food drive - not for the community, but for needy workers.
“Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths.
The food drive tables are tucked away in an employees-only area. They are another element in the backdrop of the public debate about salaries for cashiers, stock clerks and other low-wage positions at Walmart, as workers in Cincinnati and Dayton are scheduled to go on strike Monday.
Is the food drive proof the retailer pays so little that many employees can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner?
Norma Mills of Canton, who lives near the store, saw the photo circulating showing the food drive bins, and felt both “outrage” and “anger.”
“Then I went through the emotion of compassion for the employees, working for the largest food chain in America, making low wages, and who can’t afford to provide their families with a good Thanksgiving holiday,” said Mills, an organizer with Stand Up for Ohio, which is active in foreclosure issues in Canton. “That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage.”
Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other.
“It is for associates who have had some hardships come up,” he said. “Maybe their spouse lost a job.
“This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.
Lundberg said holding the food drive at the Canton Walmart was decided at the store level. However, the effort could be considered in line with what happens company-wide. The Associates in Critical Need Trust is funded by Walmart employee contributions that can be given through payroll deduction. He said employees can receive grants up to $1,500 to address hardships they may encounter, including homelessness, serious medical illnesses and major repairs to primary vehicles. Since 2001, grants totaling $80 million have been made.
But an employee at the Canton store wasn’t feeling that Walmart was looking out for her when she went to her locker more than two weeks ago and discovered the food drive containers. To her, the gesture was proof the company acknowledged many of its employees were struggling, but also proof it was not willing to substantively address their plight.
This truly is an evil empire, exploiting workers and destroying free enterprise everywhere it reaches. Every consumer, every union, and every decent business should make the complete destruction of Walmart a top priority in the coming years.
I have a confession to make—I once worked for Walmart Stores, Inc. Not in a Walmart store, but a Sam’s Club—which is owned by Walmart.
Now I’m sure many people have read many stories about the evils of Walmart, but you don’t see many about what it’s like to actually work for the company. Let me tell you, the company is nothing but the definition of what it is to be disgustingly greedy.
First, let’s look at the heirs to Walmart and their worth, about $90 billion—between 6 individuals. To put that money into a context, these 6 people could:
Give every citizen of Texas (25 million people) $3,600
Give every American (Over 314 million) just about $300
Make 90,000 people millionaires
Give $100,000 to 900,000 people
Buy 360,000 homes worth $250,000 each
Build all 32 NFL teams brand new $1 billion dollar stadiums—and still have $58 billion leftover
Give every human being on the planet $10—and still have $20 billion leftover
They’re also worth more than the combined net worth of 42% of the American population, or roughly 132 million people.
Yet the average Walmart employee makes $8.81 per hour. It would take the typical full-time Walmart employee 818,553 years to make as much as one heir to Walmart is worth ($15 billion on average).
So keep all of that in mind as I tell you about what it’s like working for these greedy bastards.
Yesterday’s Bulls & Bears opened with an effort to kill a discussion about calls for raising the minimum wage. Host Brenda Buttner began by asking regular Gary B. Smith, a reliable conservative voice on the show, “Will maximizing the minimum wage minimize or maximize our job growth?”
Right on schedule, Smith said “It’s going to kill job growth, especially when you get right down to it, what the minimum wage does, it discriminates against less-skilled workers, it’s plain and simple. New York, in 2006, raised their minimum wage from about $5.15 to $6.75. They saw a 20% increase in unemployment against younger, lesser skilled workers. In 2007, before the recession started, unemployment amongst young black teenagers… was about 29%. Now, after all the stimulus and what we’ve done, it’s now 40%. So it’s - clearly, it works against these workers.”
David Mercer was the lone liberal on the five-person panel. He said, “With all-time profits now being experienced by corporations, it’s about time after four years that workers get a fair share of that. And I think in doing so, you also help the economy by giving them more affordable wages to have more economic security. That puts in more buying power, and increases demand that overall increases growth in the economy leading to other hiring.”
After that comment, Buttner quickly stepped in to redirect the conversation - in a direction that just happened to highlight and promote conservative ideology. She “asked” another reliable conservative on the panel, John Layfield, “Does this just ignore supply and demand in the job market?”
Sure enough, Layfield replied, “Yeah it does ignore supply and demand completely. Look, I love the argument here that these companies are making so much money, how dare they make so much money? And I love the jobs plan. You have got companies who have a lot of cash on balance sheets, so the jobs plan of the administration is, we want you to take that cash and hire people you don’t need. Look, the minimum wage affects only about 2.9% of workers, and understand the average family that has a minimum wage worker makes $53,000 per year.”
Buttner again steered the discussion into conservative-talking-point territory by asking another conservative regular, Tracy Byrnes, “The job creators… are they the ones who are going to get hit the hardest by this?”
Byrnes took the ball and ran with into the “smear those who disagree as socialists” territory. She said, “Absolutely. I mean, You raise the minimum wage, they can’t afford the extra dishwasher in the kitchen. And why should they? When they can have family members do it. It hurts the entry-level jobs. It’s going to hurt our teenagers. …This notion that we’re going to keep raising it just to share the wealth ‘cause, ‘Well, we’re almost socialist anyway at this point,’ is ridiculous.”
Read more at newshounds.us