Wal-Mart Thanks You for Your Donation

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wal-Mart Thanks You for Your Donation

The Republican vision of the "ownership society" is based on a philosophy that may seem somewhat logical on the surface -- so long as people are gainfully employed, they're in a position to save money for retirement and make other decisions about their livelihood without any governmental role or assistance.

Yet being employed means one thing for a stockbroker, but something very different for a supermarket cashier. GoodJobsFirst.org maintains a regularly updated list of the number of people who have jobs, yet who are compensated in such a way that they must also rely on government assistance of one kind or another.

In other words, taxpayers are effectively subsidizing a lot of employers who choose not to provide health care coverage. The most recent update by GoodJobsFirst.org reveals:
In Arkansas, Wal-Mart's home state, the company has 3,971 employees who are receiving some form of public assistance (usually Medicaid coverage for their children). Wal-Mart is, by far, the employer with the largest number of workers receiving public assistance.

In Florida, Wal-Mart heads the list of companies with the most employees (12,300) receiving Medicaid benefits and is 2nd on the list of employers whose workers draw from the state's Kidcare program. As for Medicaid, Wal-Mart figure of 12,300 is more than 50% higher than the second-highest employer -- McDonald's.

Records released by Washington State's Basic Health Plan (targeted to low-income families) show that Wal-Mart employees top the list of recipients. A distant second is Catholic Community Services.
It's somewhat understandable that a state's taxpayers might provide financial support for the employees of a nonprofit organization. But taxpayers should start asking why they are shouldering so much of the health care costs that could easily be paid by a company whose 4th quarter profits jumped 10% to a hefty $69 billion.

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