Friday, December 16, 2005
  Fun With Numbers
Some poor misguided soul on Alternet made a statement a couple of days ago that "the lowest paid employee of Wal-Mart makes twice the federal minimum wage." That would be $10.30 an hour or $21,424 annually. I immediately contradicted his statement but then I began to wonder, what does Wal-Mart actually pay? I didn't really know. Maybe I owed the guy an apology - very doubtful but it never hurts to do a reality check so here are some numbers I got from They have well documented sources that I won't repeat here but feel free to check it out.

Now, here is where we start having fun. It is easy to see that the average Wal-Mart sales associate with two dependents qualifies for food stamps. (Let's leave the issue of public housing and public healthcare out of this for now.) In fact, on average, they are $5,589 below the cutoff point. These are hard working people with fulltime jobs. So, these people not only qualify for foodstamps, they have to have them to survive at all even though they are working fulltime.

OK, test time: Where do foodstamps come from? Yes! Taxes! We have our thinking caps on today boys and girls.

Second question: Where do taxes come from? Right again! Out of your paycheck and my paycheck - we're on a roll.

So, let's roughly recap the situation. There are 1.2 million people working for Wal-Mart. On the average, Wal-Mart is paying these people $5,589 less per year than what they actually need to barely scrap by at poverty level. We, the taxpayers of this country, are making up the difference. That comes to 1,200,000 employees X $5,589 = $6,706,800,000. That's 6.7 billion dollars. (I just love word problems - don't you.)

It makes one wonder if there isn't some alternative. Isn't it possible that this $6.7 billion could come from somewhere other than the public trough. We start looking around and what do we see? Why, up in Bentonville, Arkansas there are five people with a net worth of $77.9 billion.

(An aside: To even think of this makes me sick. Here is true obscenity and true evil. Five blotted blood-fattened vampires sitting in their lair sucking the life from 1.2 million people and the children of those 1.2 million. Are we batteries in a Matrix? Here have a blue pill. Go back to sleep.)

What is $6.7 billion to five people who have $77.9 billion? Its just a blip on a financial chart. $6.7 billion is just as meaningless as $77.9 billion. Its just as meaningless as $71.2 billion which is what they would have left if they were to do the right thing and pay those people enough to bring them up to poverty level. Somebody tell me please, what is it you can buy with $77.9 billion that you can't buy with $71.2 billion.
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Samizdat: an underground system for the circulation of forbidden works of literature and political criticism in the Soviet era of Russia.

Location: Arkansas, United States

Angry, angry, angry ... but still, any day above ground is a good day.