The Real Deadbeats

If you are tired of your taxpayer dollars being used to pay Wal-Mart employees the money that the Waltons refuse to pay them, then you might be interested in the large Black Friday protests that are occurring at 1,600 Wal-Mart stores in 49 states throughout the nation right now.

“I have to depend on the government mostly,” says Fatmata Jabbie, a 21-year-old single mother of two who earns $8.40 an hour working at a Walmart in Alexandria, Virginia. She makes ends meet with food stamps, subsidized housing, and Medicaid. “Walmart should pay us $15 an hour and let us work full-time hours,” she says. “That would change our lives. That would change our whole path. I wouldn’t be dependent on government too much. I could buy clothes for my kids to wear.”

The nation’s largest employer, Walmart employs 1.4 million people, or 10 percent of all retail workers, and pulls in $16 billion in annual profits. Its largest stockholders—Christy, Jim, Alice, and S. Robson Walton—are the nation’s wealthiest family, collectively worth $145 billion. Yet the company is notorious for paying poverty wages and using part-time schedules to avoid offering workers benefits. Last year, a report commissioned by Congressional Democrats found that each Walmart store costs taxpayers between 900,000 and $1.75 million per year because so many employees are forced to turn to government aid.

This isn’t complicated. If you have a job at Wal-Mart and you still need Medicaid, food stamps and subsidized housing, then you aren’t just getting shafted by the Waltons. You’re also being paid your missing wages by the federal government. You’re not the deadbeat. The Waltons are the deadbeats.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.