Is the Tide of Public Opinion Turning Against Walmart?

Corporations have become the arbiters of social well-being. Some, like Walmart, abuse the system, relying on government subsidies like food stamps to provide for their employees.

What's the Latest?

Our do-nothing Congress continues to refuse policy measures aimed at creating a more equitable society. Raising minimum wage? Won't even discuss it. Student loan burdens? Tough. Environmental protection? Yawn. Corporations have become the arbiters of social well-being. Some, like Walmart, abuse the system, relying on government subsidies like food stamps to provide for their employees. "By one measure...the average Walmart superstore cost taxpayers $904,000 a year in various subsidies, or more than $5,000 per employee." For the upper crust at Walmart, life is grand. Last year the company made $17 billion in profits and executives took eight-figure salaries. 

What's the Big Idea?

Legislative obstructionism has brought about a "free market" which is more active in some areas of society than government. While companies like Starbucks display their conscience in press releases, others maintain the dangerous illusion that as a business, their only responsibility is to turn a profit. Even so, Walmart could do better for its 1.4 million workers without diminishing its stock value. "Writing in, Stephen Gandel concluded that Walmart could give workers a 50 percent raise without hurting shareholder value." And Bill Gross, the founder of the investment firm PIMCO, recently said that "labor and capital have to share in the rewards of a productive economy, and for the last 25 years labor has gotten the short end of the stick."

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock

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