Opinion

Felix Salmon

How Alice Walton has improved America

By Felix Salmon
December 13, 2011

Jeffrey Goldberg is on something of an anti-Walmart campaign — and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. There’s a lot of things to dislike about Walmart, including the fact, as Goldberg notes in his latest Bloomberg View column, that its stores don’t have windows. But having decided that he doesn’t like Walmart, Goldberg is attacking the company and its founding family on grounds which don’t stand up to scrutiny.

For instance, take this seemingly damning statistic from Goldberg’s column:

In 2007, according to the labor economist Sylvia Allegretto, the six Walton family members on the Forbes 400 had a net worth equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans. The Waltons are now collectively worth about $93 billion, according to Forbes.

This sounds outrageous, until you stop for a second and take note of the fact that Jeffrey Goldberg, individually, has a net worth greater than the bottom 25% of all Americans.

According to the latest data we have, 24.8% of American households had zero or negative net worth — add them all together, and you get zero. Jeffrey Goldberg’s net worth, it’s safe to say, is greater than zero. And while it’s definitely a bad thing that one in four Americans have no net worth at all, I don’t think you can really blame Walmart for that. Indeed, Walmart saves money for poor Americans — while it might not be a great employer, there are many more poor Americans than there are poor Walmart employees. From a financial perspective, Walmart has been a decidedly positive force in terms of bringing down the cost of living for those on extremely limited budgets.

Goldberg’s thoughts, on the other hand, are in a higher place. The main subject of his column is the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville — a museum which Goldberg (or at least his headline writer) considers “a moral blight”.

What makes Goldberg say that? Well, while the museum itself is beautiful, he says, and contains much beautiful art, the “American landscape has been systematically disfigured by thousands of hangar-sized warehouses bearing the Wal-Mart name”.

This might be true — although to be honest I can’t recall ever seeing a Walmart erected anywhere particularly beautiful; they tend to pop up, in my experience, in vast and dreary expanses of exurbia. But even if Walmart is a beauty-destroying monster, that hardly makes Crystal Bridges equally monstrous.

Warming to his theme, Goldberg notes that the messages of Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” and Jacob Lawrence’s “Ambulance Call” stands in contrast to, respectively, the way that Walmart treats its female employees, and the way in which it’s denying many of them healthcare coverage.

Does Goldberg celebrate the fact that these messages are being displayed for perpetuity in the town where Walmart has its headquarters, and might somehow serve to remind Walmart’s executives of the broader American context in which they’re making their decisions? He does not. Instead, he thinks that this art does not deserve to be in Bentonville at all:

I’m not begrudging Alice Walton her inherited wealth. What I am begrudging are her priorities. Walton has the influence to help Wal-Mart workers, especially women, earn more money and gain access to affordable health care.

But her response so far to the needs of the people whose sweat pays for her paintings is a simple one: Let them eat art.

Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. Firstly, it’s not clear that Alice Walton does have a lot of influence within Walmart’s senior managerial ranks. Could Walton really help Wal-Mart’s workers earn more money and get better healthcare? Maybe she could; I’m not convinced. But here’s the thing: in what way does building a beautiful museum prevent her from doing just that? The only way, it seems to me, is if we’re in some kind of a zero-sum game, here, where the alternative to building the museum would be for Walton to take the money she would otherwise have spent on Crystal Bridges, and give it directly to Walmart workers.

Except, Goldberg says quite explicitly that he doesn’t begrudge Walton her wealth. Does he want her to give it away or not?

Let’s say that Walton has spent a total of $1 billion on this museum. According to its latest annual report, Walmart has 2.1 million “associates”: if you shared $1 billion between them, that would be an investment of $476 apiece in giving them more money and better healthcare on an ongoing basis. Even if you could somehow manage to use 10% of that value every year on a sustainable basis, that’s less than a buck a week.

Walmart is a public company, now — it’s owned by hundreds of thousands of individual and institutional shareholders. (Goldberg himself is probably a beneficial shareholder somehow, through a pension plan or insurance policy somewhere.) Walmart has been good to Alice Walton, and she’s giving back to Bentonville and to America by building a fine museum in a part of the country which is relatively starved for cultural goodness. Her impulses and her museum are admirable, whatever you think of Walmart.

When the East Coast liberal elite, in the form of Jeffrey Goldberg, sneers at Walton’s generosity and calls her museum a moral blight, that only serves to make us seem even more elitist and out of touch. It’s pretty clear that Goldberg would have preferred Asher Durand’s “Kindred Spirits” to have remained in New York, rather than being moved to Bentonville — maybe we have finer aesthetic sensibilities up here, and therefore the painting would be better housed in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. I’m sure that Stephen A. Schwarzman, for one, would like that.

But Arkansas is America too. And it’s fantastic that a wide range of exciting American art — including the likes of Jenny Holzer and Kara Walker — is being displayed in the heart of Red State America. Well done to Alice Walton for making that happen. Arkansas is a better place, now, thanks to Crystal Bridges, and Walton deserves our thanks. Not brickbats.

Comments
25 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Might be a better “ROI” than her counterparts buying the Kansas City Royals…

My factoid might be confused…could be David Glass, ex-CEO, who bought that team.

Posted by McGriffen | Report as abusive
 

Thanks for this post. I read Goldberg’s article yesterday and thought to myself, “Another New York elitist giving a bad name to my city.” I mean, look, I’ve shopped in Wal-Mart only a couple of times in my life and don’t exactly relish the prospect of going back there. But it does serve a purpose, and a very good one, as you note: it saves (relatively) poor people money. There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot that is admirable about it. Elites’ short-sighted views of employment practices elide the fact that there is a large body of people for whom the cost of goods is more important than the question of whether the company’s hiring practices are up to snuff.

Posted by DaveFriedman | Report as abusive
 

Arkansas is a rare Democratic leaning state in the South- it’s not the heart of Red State America. They have a Democratic Governor and Democratic majority in the state legislature. The heart of Red State America is more likely Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma or a couple others, but not Arkansas.

I don’t begrudge Alice Walton for donating to such a cause, but can you see where some wealthy people are more motivated to donate to modern art, opera or other charitable cause that they can enjoy firsthand (in addition to the status benefits since they aren’t donating anonymously), rather than donating to Doctors Without Borders or NJ public schools (like Zuckerberg) which would not support their favorite hobby/personal interest? Doesn’t fine art and the opera disproportionately benefit wealthier citizens compared to other charitable endeavors? I think there is a zero-sum game here (since her wealth is limited). I would rather we simply tax people fairly to fund museums across the country and also take care of our most vulnerable citizens, but since that is not happening anytime soon, I hope Alice Walton will be convinced of the morality of donating even more of her wealth to effective groups (preferably groups that change the structures of inequality rather than simply mitigate the effects) to make our society a better place. I think art museums play a role in making a society a better place and I’m sure the museum is a great addition to the Arkansas art scene, but it might cost $1 billion like you said. $7 million dollars can give 200,000 people in the developing world the gift of sight through cataracts surgery at $35 a piece. I think giving people the gift of sight is a greater use of money than providing another place for Americans to view exceptional art, but I understand not everyone will agree. She could easily do this, and not take away from the art museum, but if she was going to give away virtually all of her wealth, you’d run into the zero-sum conflict and need to decide what causes are more effective to accomplish your philanthropic goals.

Posted by RalphieNader | Report as abusive
 

What are we talking about here? When people give away their money it’s their business as to where. Period. You might think giving to children in Africa is worthy, I might think that sending money to some corrupt sinkhole where most of it gets stolen and people get hacked to death with machetes or die from AIDS on a regular basis is putting good money after bad.

This is just abject silliness. Art and humanities are what make us human, so give generously. As for NJ schools, up the taxes if you need something and quit whining, don’t rely on some wealthy person to help your kids. Same goes for our neediest…put tax money to good use. For what’s left over I’ll give to whom I damn well please, and please stay out of it. It’s none of anyone’s business.

Posted by skyman123 | Report as abusive
 

I agree she has no proven influence over the Wal-Mart board to help women or improve access to health care. But imagine she spent your hypothetical $1 billion on advocacy groups like Feminist Majority, NOW or health care groups advocating single-payer? Can you say that wouldn’t have a significant impact on improving work and healthcare policies for women? If she spent this money on women’s causes in the developing world, it would impact even more women and arguably improve their situations more dramatically.

@Skyman123
If arts and humanities are what make us human, I think we can agree that food, water and shelter allow us to continue to be living human beings and that is also important. I would also hope arts and humanities motivate us to help other human beings, and sometimes that answer involves effectively donations of food, water and medicine- not always more art. No one is saying Alice Walton, or you, can’t give money to the arts. It’s a great strawman though. And you say for schools just “up the taxes if you need something”….well actually it’s more difficult than that in part because we have very influential wealthy people who do not want higher taxes to help fix our failing public schools. They prefer to pay lower taxes, and selectively donate money (to things like….art museums that they can enjoy personally) rather than have that money automatically taken by the government.

Posted by RalphieNader | Report as abusive
 
 

“And while it’s definitely a bad thing that one in four Americans have no net worth at all [...]”

This simply points out a weakness of the calculation. For most people, especially younger people, their finances are dominated by their ability to earn money. They may not have much savings. They may even owe a relatively trivial sum (e.g. $40k of student loans). But if they have a career that will earn them $60k/year over the next 40 years, then they are in decent financial shape. In fact, such a person is better off than one with $20k “net worth” and a $30k/year job, even if it will take a few years for their lines to cross.

Even for retirees, “net worth” would be more meaningful if it included the value of anticipated Social Security benefits.

Net worth is meaningful for the wealthy and for investors. It isn’t a meaningful measure for most average Americans.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive
 

“As for NJ schools, up the taxes if you need something and quit whining, don’t rely on some wealthy person to help your kids.”

The wealthy live in exclusive suburbs that fund their schools very well. Those districts face fewer challenges, have greater resources, and produce results comparable to the private prep schools.

Don’t ask them to help the rest of the population? Why not? Have we come to the point as a nation that we no longer believe in sharing the cost of public education?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive
 

Well I would not attack her for her creation of the museum. But with billions of dollars at her disposal, buying a lot of art and ordering a museum designed to hold it all, is not a particularly onerous or difficult task. And since the gift is probably tax deductible I suspect she gets quite a bit of economic benefit from it. Putting it in a small town in Arkansas is not helpful since the art will be accessible to fewer people than if it had been put in a population center. Finally whether the recent American art there is “exciting” in entirely a subjective matter. So all in all, I’d say it’s a draw, good in some ways, not so good in others.

Posted by Chris08 | Report as abusive
 

PS I would add that I would have far more respect for her had she spent half a billion to create a think tank devoted to working to reduce income inequality in the US and gifted the other half billion to the Gates Foundation for third world aid.

Posted by Chris08 | Report as abusive
 

Felix said “From a financial perspective, Walmart has been a decidedly positive force in terms of bringing down the cost of living for those on extremely limited budgets”.

I suppose if one ONLY looks at the price a consumer pays for a given item, that might be true. But big box retailers have socialized some of the distribution costs of getting products to consumers.

In order patronize almost any Wal Mart, a car is necessary. They are usually far outside of town. Most consumers have to burn at least a couple of gallons of gas getting to/from Wal Mart. If the $8 for gas, or more accurately $0.50 per mile for a 30 mile round trip if added to the cost, are things still “cheap”? US retail is admired by some for its “efficiency” — but it has socialized distribution costs under the guise of “every day low prices”.

In my observation the retail that Wal Mart displaced is almost always more convenient and closer to residential areas. Wal Mart has effectively gutted small-town downtowns and near-in strip retail wherever they have gone. That is their trademark on small town America.

Wal Mart is a blight on America. The Walton family are social parasites.

Posted by upstater | Report as abusive
 

Well, I’m not too proud to shop at Walmart, and the reason it is large is that it is relatively successful at filling many people’s needs. And I’m frankly surprised at the seeming need of many of the commenters to tell Alice Walton how to give her money away; many wealthy people endow museums without anywhere near this level of criticism.

But really, Felix; >> “… in vast and dreary expanses of exurbia.” That was gratuitous, even for you. One might also talk about the vast and dreary expanses of NYC.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive
 

Felix

You note the ‘vast and dreary expanses of exurbia’. One of the primary reasons for that is the design philosophy of tract housing developers and Walmart itself.

I am also surprised that you nor none of the other commenters have pointed out that Walmart’s prices aren’t that inexpensive.

Last, Henry Ford became great because he paid his workers $5 a day, enough to be able to purchase his product. What’s Walmart’s story?

Posted by crocodilechuck | Report as abusive
 

I did work for Wal-Mart as a contractor a number of years ago. They were the most organized client I have ever worked for. They knew exactly what they wanted, why, and how much it should cost. They had high standards for the services that they purchased. They were good repeat customers if you did your work well. You found out very quickly if they were dissatisfied.

I can see why they were able to cut the prices of goods as it was clear that they were managing their costs very carefully, looking at the big, long-term picture.

I think the biggest damage that Wal-Mart has done is to be an effective conduit for off-shored manufacturing which has reduced Northa american manufacturing. However, that is not Wal-Mart’s fault – that is a fundamental economic tenet of the United States economic policy since the 1980s and it is a society-wide problem. Manufacturer’s who operate their businesses with the efficiency that Wal-Mart does can often compete with global manufacturing, especially now that the cost of shipping has risen.

Wal-Mart, McDonalds, grocery store chains etc. fill a valuable employment role where low-income and young people can enter the work-force, learn how to work, and move on to better jobs. The big problem in the US is that we have off-shored the better jobs to which these workers should be aspiring as they learn basic work skills. That is a problem that Alice Walton will not be able to fix.

Posted by ErnieD | Report as abusive
 

What a mean-spirited and ignorant column this was, and how disappointing from a man whose writings I generally respect. I just want to add this: Just as the Wal-Mart stores (which are no less beautiful in their architecture than, say Costco or Macy’s) allow people of limited income to purchase necessities and comforts, so Crystal Bridges (free admission! ) will allow the children of Northwest Arkansas and their families, to see first-rate art and learn about museums and what they display and preserve. The benefits are incalculable. Thank you, Alice Walton, for your gift to America.

Posted by Elsap | Report as abusive
 

At least Henry Frick bought the products to make his coke and then steel domestically. The Waltons have made much of their fortune by advocating for, and getting, the laws changed so they could import the vast majority of their products overseas.

Getting good wages was a struggle in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th. Now, because tons of the crap at Wal Mart is made overseas, it’s getting a job, regardless of the wage, that is the struggle.

The Waltons make their nickles and dimes, and they turn in to billions of dollars. Workers in the USA lose nickles and dimes, and end up having to shop at Wal Mart. I guess that works out for someone.

Posted by sagreer70 | Report as abusive
 

Wow! I swear to GAWD the last Felix Salmon post I read before taking him OFF my RSS reader was “Bordeaux data-points of the day”. Who gives a rats patootie about Alice Walton taking a punch.

Posted by Marcum | Report as abusive
 

Alice Walton and her creepy kin are the moving force behind the attack on the Estate Tax. They did nothing to earn those riches, but they don’t want to pay taxes when they go on to their great reward in the sky, which will no doubt be a heavenly Versailles lined with money and gold.

Posted by masaccio | Report as abusive
 

You’re applying different standards in your evaluation of the influence Alice Walton can wield.

On the one hand you’re not “convinced” — a high standard to meet — that “Walton [could] really help Wal-Mart’s workers earn more money and get better healthcare.”

But OTOH you believe that something mystically beneficial will befall those who will view the artwork to hang in her new museum — though you offer no evidence for this and appear to be applying a much lower threshold of criteria for believing it, versus the threshold you want met to be convinced that she could positively impact Walmart employees’ financial wellbeing.

Imho her money would be better spent by, for instance, funding construction of new/more libraries or extended library hours, than by building a new $1bb museum.

What happens in museums that doesn’t happen at much less cost & to much greater effect by reading? Wouldn’t her goal — presuming that its not to build a monument to herself — be better achieved by making sure Arkansas’ public libraries were always open late and were well-stocked with the so-called Great Books?

I’m with Jeffrey Goldberg.

Posted by dedalus | Report as abusive
 

I’m with Jeffrey Goldberg.

Posted by leoklein | Report as abusive
 

“looking a gift horse in the mouth”? Cold, Felix, cold. You can’t blame Goldberg for David Bradley’s wealth. Nor his children for wanting a pony. I suppose all the little Salmonses are getting coal in their stockings this Christmas.

Posted by MarvDanielson | Report as abusive
 

Thanks for the reminder about Crystal Bridges. It’s been sold out when I’ve checked before, and had neglected to go back to check. Looks like I’ll be able to get in over the holidays.

It has been a bit stunning to read the comments critical of her choice of how to spend her own money. (Note: the Waltons have also contributed to several great libraries in the area and to efforts to alleviate poverty in the Arkansas and Mississippi delta regions.) There is a long tradition of wealthy patrons buying artworks, and it’s nice to see them made publicly available. While it is a shame for NY that the Waltons have kept strong ties in NW Arkansas and choose to display the artwork here, it’s not like there aren’t a few decent art museums in NY already.

As for efforts to help with problems in developing countries, it should be noted that the Wal-Mart innovations in supply chain management have allowed greater manufacturing inputs from developing countries, helping to bring millions of people out of poverty. No amount of charitable giving by the Waltons could match the benefits of establishing these sustainable trade patterns for the developing world. Yes, that leads to less low-end manufacturing here, but if you’re really concerned about the health and well-being of humanity as a whole, rather than just the extremely rich (in relative terms) Americans, there is no better way to lift so many out of poverty than to give them sustainable jobs by buying stuff from them and investing in factories that will employ them.

Posted by Podunk | Report as abusive
 

“Walmart saves money for poor Americans — while it might not be a great employer, there are many more poor Americans than there are poor Walmart employees. From a financial perspective, Walmart has been a decidedly positive force in terms of bringing down the cost of living for those on extremely limited budgets.”

I just don’t buy this argument. Wal-Mart, through its direct labor policies and its lobbying, depresses the wages of ALL low-skilled workers and undermines safety net programs that help out even mid- and high-skilled workers when they have a run of bad luck. The benefits they provide by sharing SOME of the savings they generate through logistics (most of which flow to shareholders) are almost surely outweighed by their negatives.

Posted by Auros | Report as abusive
 

Pretty sad Felix. I suppose the ends now justify the means.

To actually title this piece, How Alice Walton has improved America???

I mean really. I expect willful blindness from the cheap sloganeers, but from you Felix?

I’m too, along with MANY are with Jeffrey Goldberg on this and here’s his new piece:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-20  /at-wal-mart-a-microcosm-of-u-s-inequal ities-jeffrey-goldberg.html

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive
 

I noticed Mr. Goldberg wrote another article today on Alice Walton. I sent him the following after the first article.

I read your article about Alice Walton and the new Crystal Bridges Art Museum and have to say your research is either lacking or you just have a problem with the Walton family and Wal-Mart. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon that paints the Walton’s and Wal-Mart as an evil empire, rather than look at the many good deeds the family, Wal-Mart and their foundation does for the general public. I realize this is just an opinion piece and you can simply write your view, but I believe it is irresponsible to continue to fuel the flames against this family and the company. Actually, if you were any sort of real journalist, you would actually write something that doesn’t cater to popular opinion. For full disclosure, I grew up in Arkansas and lived there until I was 26. I worked for the Walton family bank for 7 years and knew many of them personally. It was the best job anyone in my family ever had and had my husband not been transferred to Los Angeles, I would still be working for them. I now live in Chicago and work for one of the largest banks in the country.

As to some of your statements, I take offence that you believe it is a moral tragedy to build a billion dollar art museum in a recession. First, do you not think it created much needed jobs? I can tell you that it did, especially for those in construction, a business sector that has suffered considerably during the recession. Maybe you should reach out to some of those contractors who were hired to build Crystal Bridges and get their take on it. Second, were other billionaires on financial lockdown? Given my position, I first hand witnessed the upper 1% continue to build extravagant homes and spend significant sums on art (it was a buyer’s market, after all), but for their own personal collection. I also witnessed them tightening their belts by way of cutting back on their philanthropic giving. Ask anyone who works for a non-profit and they will tell you their major donors were no longer major. I commend Alice and the foundation for giving tremendous amounts of money throughout the recession. While the Walton Family Foundation did give $1.2B to build the museum in 2010 (which created both short term and long term jobs), they gave another $276M to education and conservation programs. With the museum built, the vast majority of those grants will go back to education and conservation like it did in 2009 when the foundation gave $327M to such programs. I do believe only the Gates foundation can claim more.

As far as the building itself, yes, it is indeed a beautiful building and you are right in stating it is the handsomest building ever built by Wal-Mart money. That is because Wal-Mart has never felt the need to build some grandiose monstrosity to flaunt their success, as so many of these enormous corporations feel the need to do. They don’t waste revenues on such extravagances; their buildings are for function, which should make shareholders happy. When companies build such lavish buildings, they are shouting, “Look at us! We are so successful and powerful, we just had to show you by this outlandish display of wealth!” Quite simply, it is nothing more than textbook megalomania. They could have contributed that money to charity.

It is also funny you take a jab at Wal-Mart for selling foreign goods. Did I miss the memo that Target only sells American goods? Or Amazon? Or any other major department store, for that matter? Also, working for Bloomberg, you should know that foreign trade is extremely important to the American economy and without it, the cost of goods would be exorbitant (think of all those foreign manufactures for GE and Apple). It is unfair and quite frankly, irresponsible, to make such a statement. You only fuel the flames of a deeply divided political state that at this point in time, needs more compromise than agitation. Your comments suggest that it is even a possibility to sell only domestic goods, which you well know is impossible.

When you speak of values and the paintings that are the antithesis of the Wal-Mart spirit, I would like to share with you a bit of my own story and suggest you reconsider what you believe to be values. As I said, I grew up in Arkansas. My mother was a single mother who worked for a small diner that did NOT have to pay the state required minimum wage because of the “tip exemption”. At that time, between 1973 and 1995, minimum wage for the state went from $1.20/hour to a whopping $4.25/hour – and my mother made less. Now, if you are working at Morton’s or a high end restaurant, you can make a decent living off of tips. However, if you’re working at a small town diner that serves a 60 cent hamburger, tips don’t amount to much. If my mother received a 50 cent tip, that was high; a $1.00 was almost unheard of. It was not enough money to live on and we lived with my grandmother for 8 years out of necessity. Also, the restaurant did not have to provide health insurance and my mother made just enough to not qualify for Medicaid; all medical expenses were paid for in cash. Needless to say, we were on a very tight budget. So to us, Wal-Mart was the greatest place ever built. We could buy clothing and home goods for a fraction of the cost and a loaf of bread for $.85, instead of $1.10 at the local “mom & pop” store. Which as a side note, the owner of the “mom & pop” in town was the only man who could afford a Cadillac, send his children to the University, and actually take a real vacation (not camping 2 hours from home). To this day, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the mom & pop retailers of the world. Wal-Mart has done more for the lower 50% of this country than most any person, company or government entity, and a lot of us owe our sheer survival to them. Where my mother could save her tips, they went toward my college education. Literally, nickels, dimes and quarters paid for my education and I went to the cheapest school in the state. After graduation, I was hired to work for the Walton family bank and I made more in one week than my mother made in a month. Wal-Mart’s values was to always to provide the lowest cost and everything about their business model is driven by this mission. Having the lowest cost items means that you support the poorest families, allowing them to stretch their dollars farther. I, for one, am a fan of Wal-Mart’s values.

On your comments about the paintings in the museum and the seeming contrast between the work and the family values, I ask you this: Since when did an art museum have to hold the values and beliefs as the artists exhibited? By that standard, you should walk around the Guggenheim and ask that they take down at least half of all of the works. The Guggenheim fortune was built with old inherited wealth created by gold mining, which exploited workers and their environment, all for their own financial success. In fact, I believe most artists would have related more to Sam Walton with his creativity and vision, as well as his desire to help the poor (including starving artists). I’m beginning to think your issue might be that the museum was built in lowly Arkansas, built by a man of little to no means.

On your point about the inequality of women, I certainly do agree there is a disparity in pay between men and women. But to be fair, that is a national problem and almost every corporation in this country is guilty of it. Even this well regarded bank that employees me discriminates against females in both pay and upper management. It is not fair to only call out Wal-Mart alone on this. This company also does not offer coverage to part time employees, as great majority of companies do not.

My final point is in regard to your statement about how Wal-Mart made its money. Wal-Mart was so successful, not because it undercut its employees as you suggest, but by streamlining distribution, creating better technology and simply out-maneuvering the competition. Wal-Mart, particularly Sam Walton, revolutionized business as we know it. Wal-Mart paying employees’ minimum wage is what all companies pay their non-skilled labor. But when Sam and the family managed Wal-Mart, those employees also received stock options. My uncle worked for Wal-Mart for 25 years as a truck driver. At retirement, he received over $350,000 from options – 10 times what he had personally saved for retirement. There are many others who benefited from options as well: secretaries, shelf stockers, and cashiers received significant sums from options, well more than what my uncle received (there was a very memorable stocker that retired with $1mm). There were also those that took what little savings they had and bought additional stock with it, with many of them having 10’s of millions in Wal-Mart stock by the time they retired. Everyone in the company wanted to keep costs down, regardless of what they were, because they had so much to gain on the future success.

So, the next time you want to write an opinion piece, you should consider choosing a topic that might actually make people think and consider that there are multiple sides to every story. As a few suggestions, you can look within your own piece.

1) National pay inequality between men and women, and the fact that women stopped gaining ground in high level executive positions and government in 2006.
2) Large companies sitting on trillions of dollars that could be deployed for goods, buildings and jobs, but are not.
3) Wealthy families that contribute little to none to charity (a shame list would be great and a mile long), yet spend their dollars lobbying for regulations that would benefit them to the great expense of others.
4) Corporate mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility.
5) The long term affect of low minimum wages and the exemptions.
6) Health care for people who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Posted by Jweb | Report as abusive
 

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