Williams: Walmart, the Selfish Giant

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Williams: Walmart, the Selfish Giant

By Brook Williams

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Walmarts around the world are known for their low prices and great deals. They make up one of America’s emblems, and not one we are necessarily proud of. Among all of the benefits of shopping at Walmart, there are some secrets hidden in their closets, secrets that add up to great costs for each state. Due to their low-wage workers, taxpayers end up paying an estimated 6.2 billion dollars in subsidies every year, including public assistance like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.

This is known as the “Walmart Tax.” When it comes to paying taxes, what fuels Americans’ anger the most is knowing that their hard earned money is going to someone else, especially someone working hard at their local Walmart. They should be getting their own paychecks, right? Why should we have to have to make up for Walmart’s lack of decency and compensation? This is not the employees’ faults, in my opinion, when it is the corporation that generates almost 500 billion dollars in revenue every year. How do they not have enough money to pay their employees decent wages and instead leave them qualified for many subsidizing programs our tax dollars fund?

I am one to raise my fists at mega-corporations due to my belief that they have no sense of care for their employees or the communities they overrun. They claim to create jobs, when all they do is prevent local businesses, the actual decent job creators, from thriving. Whenever big corporations open up, they end up taking money away from the community, whereas locally owned stores give the money back to the local residents. Not to mention putting up these larger corporations everywhere takes away from the culture and local character of smaller cities.

Walmart is constantly being accused of using intensive labor exploitation and abuse of their manufacturers in other countries. In 2013 a building collapsed in Bangladesh and killed 1,127 garment workers for Walmart. The conditions for these workers were absolutely horrific. They were piled into one building and expected to work on their feet all day making very low wages and creating materials for wealthier countries like the U.S.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance created a series of reports complaining that these factories showed “persistent rights violations.” These workers are put into an extremely exploitative contract that “leave them susceptible to unsafe working conditions, low wages, denial of benefits and harsh penalties for engaging in union activity — including termination of employment. This includes ‘forced overtime’ during Cambodia’s hottest season, leading to mass ‘fainting episodes resulting from over exertion, exacerbated by inadequate nutrition,’” states Aaron Smith, a reporter for CNN.

Just two years ago, the minimum wage for industry workers was only 37 dollars per month, and the pay for their female employees was approximately 1.16 dollars less than that.

So, why do we allow these corporations to walk around like arrogant giants feeding off others’ hard work? They depict the illusion that they are beneficial to the community and economy, when in reality it is the opposite. As Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls so graciously put it, “Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Caesar? Hm?”