The purpose of this paper is to argue either in favor of the proposition that Wal-Mart is good for America, or against the proposition. The great Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”. After hearing the quote, I started thinking about different ideas, letting the thoughts roam in my head, and actually considering them without immediately discarding them. I have learned not to accept a concept just because it sounded interesting or because the idea was introduced by a trustworthy person.
After careful consideration and research of different viewpoints, I came to the conclusion that Wal-Mart is bad for America for several reasons. Mainly, Wal-Mart has destroyed small businesses and manufacturing jobs in America. Secondly, Wal-Mart is a burden on taxpayers. Thirdly, Wal-Mart does not pay its employees competitive salaries or provide medical insurance to most of their employees. Lastly, Wal-Mart can be viewed as a greedy company that is willing to go the distance in order to cut costs and gain profits.
Wal-Mart is slowly destroying America by eliminating small business jobs in America.
Sobel (2008) states that Wal-Mart has indeed set prices low enough to drive mom-and-pop stores out of business all over the United States. Small businesses are critical to the United States economy according to Ran (2009). In general, small business is any company that employs less than 100 people. What a lot of Americans do not know, is that small business in America has been the stabilizing force in the economy and small business is what stimulates economic growth as described by (Vedder, 2014).
While researching the topic, I learned that small businesses are currently responsible for employing over half of the country’s economy. Former Secretary of Labor, Robert B. Reich, stated on the NY Times that Wal-Mart will turn “main streets into ghost towns by sucking business away from small retailers” (Sobel, 2008). The article also indicated that Wal-Mart Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
Watch, one of the largest anti-Wal-Mart organizations, claimed that in Iowa, Wal-Mart’s expansion has been responsible for widespread closings of small business stores, including 555 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores, 293 building suppliers, 161 variety shops, 158 women’s stores, and 116 pharmacies. Those numbers are extremely shocking and show the huge impact Wal-Mart has on the economy.
In addition to destroying small business, Wal-Mart has caused a significant reduction in the amount of manufacturing jobs in America. The next time you visit Wal-Mart pick up 10 different products and check the label to see where the products were made at. Ran (2009) describes that Americans are buying billions of goods that are not made in America.
The vast majority of merchandise Wal-Mart sells in the United States is manufactured abroad in order to cut costs. In turn, it has caused many other US companies to move their factories overseas (Matusitz, 2013). The influence and power held by Wal-Mart has forced their suppliers, such as Levi’s, to move their manufacturing from the US to abroad in order to meet Wal-Mart’s demand for low prices.
In order to meet Wal-Mart’s demands for low costs, suppliers have been forced to outsource their manufacturing to get cheap labor, which in turn has caused layoffs in the US supply and manufacturing sector. Additionally, cheap manufacturing needs have started to promote the development of domestic sweatshops.
According to Sobel (2008), Louisiana Seafood Processor, C.J.’s Seafood, which sells an estimated 85 percent of its processed crawfish to Wal-Mart, has recently come under scrutiny for allegedly abusing employees working in the US on temporary immigrant visas (known as guest worker visas). Suppliers are pressurized to reduce expenses by any means possible to comply with the retail giant’s demands.
Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
Several complaints have been made to the Department of Labor, claiming that Wal-Mart suppliers have engaged in extremely coercive employment related actions, including forcing guest workers to work up to 24-hour shifts with no overtime pay, locking them in the plant to force them to continue working, threatening the guest workers with beating to make them work faster, and threatening them with violence against their families (Matusitz, 2013).
How is this good for America? What type of message does this send to the public? Wal-Mart is America’s largest company and with power comes responsibility. I feel that it is Wal-Mart’s duty to help
protect US jobs and promote strong and better business practices.
Wal-Mart is also a burden on taxpayers. According to the findings of Stacy Michelle
(2014), California taxpayers are spending 86 million a year providing healthcare and other public assistance to the state’s 44,000 Wal-Mart employees. How is that fair to the taxpayers? What kinds of changes would the executives at Wal-Mart make if they were held responsible for the costs? Mitchell also uncovered that Wal-Mart workers require $730 in taxpayer-funded healthcare and $1,222 in other forms of assistance, such as food stamps, just for them to get by. One Wal-Mart store alone costs taxpayers an estimated $1 million in public assistance funds used by their employees (Mitchell, 2014).
One of the primary reasons Wal-Mart causes such a burden on taxpayers is due to the low wages paid to their employees. Wal-Mart workers earn 31 percent less than the average wage for workers at large retail companies, and require 39 percent more in public assistance (Vedder, 2014). Hence, taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart’s low wages and poor benefits (Mitchell, 2014). The average Wal-Mart employee earns $8.81 per hour, which translates into $15,576 per year. According to Goetz (2012), this is less than two-thirds of the poverty line for a family of four. It
Is Wal-Mart Good for America? is alarming to discover that it is close to impossible for someone to provide for their family on an income that low.
Wal-Mart is creating poverty jobs and getting extremely rich off of it. When looking up the Forbes 400 list, you will find six members of the Walton Family that made the cut. Christy, Alice, Jim, Rob, Ann, and Nancy have a combined net-worth of 148.8 billion dollars.
Their wealth is equal to the wealth of the bottom 42% of American families combined. When put into numbers, these six people make more money than 133,809,000 people make together. Wal-Mart employs at least 1.4 million Americans in the United States and of that number, only 475,000 make over $25,000 a year (Vedder, 2014). In conclusion, Wal-Mart is bad for America. Wal-Mart’s existence has destroyed small businesses and manufacturing jobs in America. Wal-Mart is a burden on taxpayers, due to their practices of not paying their employees reasonable salaries.
The overall impression of Wal-Mart is that they are a greedy company that is willing to go to any lengths in order to gain profits. Wal-Mart is the largest American company on the market; hence, they represent the United States. As consumers, we must make a decision based on research and facts when shopping at Wal-Mart. Is worth compromising the U.S. economy and our dignity just to save a few dollars? The dollars we save are the same dollars that are being taken away from America. The goal of this report is to open the eyes of more Americans, in the hopes that we all can start making educated choices and spending our money in a way that gives back to America.
Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
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