Is Subsidizing the Walton Clan A Matter of National Security?

The thirty-year old national pastime of subsidizing rich people for something they would do anyway (e.g., 401(k) tax deductions) continues unabated (boldface mine):

Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.

Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 national and state-level progressive groups, made this estimate using data from a 2013 study by Democratic Staff of the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“The study estimated the cost to Wisconsin’s taxpayers of Walmart’s low wages and benefits, which often force workers to rely on various public assistance programs,” reads the report, available in full here.

“It found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers.”

Here’s what some asshole with a blog wrote about the hypothetical scenario of Walmart receiving around $6 billion in subsidized wages (boldface added):

In 2012, Walmart’s profits were $15.7 billion. Here’s how a $12/hour wage would affect Walmart’s profits:

Setting a $12 minimum wage at Wal-Mart would increase the company’s payroll costs by $3.2 billion a year. Some of this would likely be offset by increased labor productivity due to higher morale, lower turnover, and lower absenteeism. The rest could be absorbed through reduced profits. Wal-Mart posted a profit of $16.4 billion in 2010.

Hell, let’s, for sake of argument, claim that a right and just wage would cost Walmart …$6 billion. That’s still $10 billion in profits, over half of which goes to the Clan na Walton. How is there a national interest in maintaining the Arkansan Aristocracy?

Look, as a known MMT/MMR sympathizer, I will gladly deficit spend at the drop of a hat (at the federal level). Money is never a limiting resource. I will deficit spend to support nascent industries. I will deficit spend to conduct research. I will deficit spend to foster our arts and culture. I will deficit spend to feed the hungry and clothe the needy. I will deficit spend to clean our air and water. I will deficit spend to educate all of our children. I will deficit spend to fix all the broken stuff. If I could figure out how to make this shit rhyme, I would be the Dr. Seuss of Deficits….

But what compelling national interest is there in maintaining the wealth–and thereby the prerogative and the political power–of the Waltons? Or that asshole who runs Papa John’s? Why would you want to pay these guys for hiring workers they need anyway?

That’s why people support the minimum wage: they know, often from their own experience, that it could mean lower profits for owners. They know that salaries, especially at the bottom, have little to do market wage levels and a lot to do with power.

What national interest is there in subsidizing the extreme wealth of the Walton clan?

In 2016, perhaps reporters should ask presidential candidates about this.

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