The popular belief surrounding Walmart is that conservatives love it and liberals hate it. That appears to be generally true, but there are a number of things that Walmart does or doesn’t do that should give conservatives pause before they rush to defend the mega-retailer. Following are eight reasons why conservatives should not support Walmart.
1. Walmart workers are paid wages that are like Walmart prices…Low. This forces them to rely on government benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps. Conservatives in general oppose programs such as food stamps, many for reasons such as those offered by Arkansas representative Tom Cotton, who said
President Obama’s failed policies have turned what should be a Farm Bill into the Food Stamp Bill, expanding by $300 billion a food-stamp program riddled with fraud and abuse.
2. In addition to being eligible for government assistance for food and medical care, an average Walmart employee who is married and has one child is eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit that is refunded to certain low paid workers. Republican Representative Bob Woodall of Georgia is one of a number of conservative legislators on record as saying that the poor don’t pay enough in taxes.
3. Walmart has a history of hiring undocumented immigrant workers. According to a 2004 congressional report
On October 23, 2003, federal agents raided 61 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states. When they left, the agents had arrested 250 nightshift janitors who were undocumented workers.
Following the arrests, a grand jury convened to consider charging Wal-Mart executives with labor racketeering crimes for knowingly allowing undocumented workers to work at their stores. The workers themselves were employed by agencies Wal-Mart contracted with for cheap cleaning services. While Wal-Mart executives have tried to lay the blame squarely with the contractors, federal investigators point to wiretapped conversations showing that executives knew the workers were undocumented.
While not all conservatives are as radical as congressman Steve King (R-IA) on the issue, a Pew poll found that 82 percent of those who identified themselves as “Tea Party” Republicans oppose immigration reform because it would “reward illegal behavior” (such as, one can assume, working while in the country illegally).
4. Recording artists, particularly alternative rock and rap artists, are often forced to produce alternate versions of their work in order for it to be sold by Walmart. Walmart company policy forbids the sale of any CD with a warning label. According to the PBS documentary “Store Wars: When Walmart Comes To Town,” Walmart has pulled magazines from its shelves for covers they consider inappropriate, and some magazines have even sent Walmart photos of proposed covers for their approval. Considering that Walmart is the nation’s largest retailer, and as of 2010 accounted for about 12 percent of CD sales, their policy of censorship interferes with the right of artists to have their work judged by the free market. A simple solution would be to place potentially offending CD’s and magazines out of the reach of children and/or obscure their covers, as is often done with “adult” magazines on newsstands.
5. Walmart moves into communities, undercuts, and eventually destroys small local businesses. Though the claim is disputable, a blogger in The Weekly Standard proclaimed in 2012, “Republicans Fight For Small, Democrats For Big, Business.” While there were some conflicting poll numbers, in 2012 a majority of small business owners favored Mitt Romney for president, indicating that they were counting on Romney and the GOP to work for their interests to a greater extent than they thought President Obama would. Defending Walmart is the exact opposite of supporting small businesses.
6. Walmart puts pressure on suppliers to reduce prices. This affects the bottom line of those suppliers and forces them to look for ways to provide products at the price which Walmart demands. It also means that smaller suppliers, that already may be operating on a shoestring budget and cannot afford to make cuts, are unable to avail themselves of the huge market that Walmart offers.
7. Walmart makes political contributions to Democrats. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2012 Walmart connected PAC’s donated $400,000 to the Democratic Governors’ Association. Even worse for some conservatives, in 2012 individuals connected to Walmart donated $57,711 to Barack Obama.
8. Walmart sells a lot of goods that are made in China. In fact, some 70 percent of everything Walmart sells is produced in China. This should be an obvious problem for “cold war” conservatives, since China is a communist country. In addition to that concern, Walmart accounted for 11 percent of the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006, according to the Economic Policy Institute. EPI estimates that just the Walmart portion of the trade deficit resulted in the lossof approximately 200,000 American jobs in that same time period. This likely forced more Americans to seek unemployment benefits, another government program that many conservatives hate.
Those are just some of the reasons why conservatives should want nothing to do with Walmart and their “low prices” that upon reflection are really not that low when the actual costs are totaled. Interestingly, they coincide with the top eight reasons why liberals should hate Walmart.