The popular belief surrounding Walmart is that liberals hate it and conservatives love it. That appears to be generally true, but if you are a liberal and you get challenged by your crazy, Limbaugh loving, prescription pain killer popping old uncle at Sunday dinner, you may not have the specifics you need to defend your hatred of the mega-retailer. Here are eight reasons for any and all liberals to hate 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. Liberals generally take the position that no one who works full time should have to rely on government benefits to live. Walmart workers make, on average, $8.81 per hour, which, according to MIT’s “Living Wage Calculator,” does not qualify as a living wage for a single person in much of the country, and is not a living wage for a single parent with one child anywhere, including Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Walmart.
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. If more workers were paid a “living wage,” fewer would be eligible for this tax credit, which means they would make Republicans such as representative Bob Woodall of Georgia very happy. Woodall has said that the poor don’t pay enough 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.59
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.
President Obama has in the past supported the idea of cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants as a way to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
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. Because of the size of Walmart’s customer base artists and publishers are left with few options, which seem to be: either change the content to suit Walmart standards or take a monetary hit by not selling at Walmart. This amounts to Walmart making creative decisions for some performers, and forcing publishers to change their content to meet Walmart standards, which means that even subscribers and those who buy their magazines elsewhere are reading “Walmart approved editions.”
5. Walmart moves into communities, undercuts, and eventually destroys small local businesses. The 2012 Democratic National Platform called small businesses “the engine of job growth in America.” Liberals recognize that small businesses provide the diversity in goods and services that keep communities vibrant and thriving.
6. Walmart puts pressure on suppliers to reduce prices. This story from 2003 tells how this pressure can simply ruin the businesses that Walmart buys from.
Steve Dobbins has been bearing the brunt of that switch. He’s president and CEO of Carolina Mills, a 75-year-old North Carolina company that supplies thread, yarn, and textile finishing to apparel makers–half of which supply Wal-Mart. Carolina Mills grew steadily until 2000. But in the past three years, as its customers have gone either overseas or out of business, it has shrunk from 17 factories to 7, and from 2,600 employees to 1,200. Dobbins’s customers have begun to face imported clothing sold so cheaply to Wal-Mart that they could not compete even if they paid their workers nothing.
So much for the Walmart claim that they “create jobs.”
7. Walmart makes political contributions to Republicans. Even though the company and individuals associated with it have contributed substantial sums to the Democratic Governors’ Association and even President Obama, most Walmart money goes to Republicans. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2012 Walmart connected PAC’s donated $725,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association. Individuals connected to Walmart also donated $66,281 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Other top Republican recipients of Walmart money in 2012 include Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz.
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. China is well known for the poor working conditions in its factories, but Walmart also buys from other countries such as Bangladesh that have few or no protections for workers’ rights. Also, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Walmart’s purchase of Chinese goods resulted in the loss of 200,000 American jobs between 2001 and 2006.
Those are just some of the reasons why liberals 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 conservatives should hate Walmart.