Thursday, November 27, 2014

Looking for the Sun

It was cold here last night.  Our big yellow dog Mallie was a chili-dog when we got up.  Don’t get me wrong; while she is not an indoor dog, she has an insulated doghouse.  With a rug.  And a comforter.  She does all right for a backyard dog. 

While the day quickly warmed, I noticed while I was putzing around doing chores that she kept moving around in her yard.  She does that all the time.  She’s looking for that little spot in the sun where she can snooze and warm her bones.  Sometimes it’s in the doorway of the porch; sometimes it is in the pine straw at the bottom of the steps.  Sometimes it is on the other side near the fence.  On these cool days, she keeps moving around in her fenced in area seeking the most comfort.  When she moves to a spot that is a little warmer, a little more comfortable, she walks around in a tight circle for a few moments – nesting I suppose.  Then she drops down, lets out a contented sigh and usually drops off to sleep.  Not a bad occupation.

That’s the way it is with people too I think.  We are all looking for that spot in the sun where we can be just a little more comfortable, just a little more content.  Some of us have it easier than others.   Being a teacher with 35 years under my belt, I’d say that I have it pretty easy.  I make good money.  I am one of the fortunate ones.   Not too hard for me to find a little bit of sun to warm my bones.  Between Heidi and me, we do all right.

But I heard the other day that Walmart was having a difficult time even considering giving its employees a living wage. 

From Wikipedia: In public policy, a living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic… A living wage is defined as the wage that can meet the basic needs to maintain a safe, decent standard of living within the community.

Seems to me that the Waltons can afford to pay their employees a living wage.  Seems to me that decision would be good for business.  Maybe people would want to work there and not just see it as a starter job, or one that they would easily give up if something else better came along.  Walmart would probably make out by keeping a continuous set of motivated employees if they paid decent enough money so that workers didn’t need to receive food stamps. 

I Googled Walmart and Living Wage and came up with some facts to put things into perspective.  In 2007 The Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune — had a net worth equal to that of the bottom 30 percent of Americans.  

Things have been looking up for the Walton family though.  In an article for dated November 27 by Molly Moorhead: “Today the Walton family of Walmart own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America."  This statement was vigorously fact checked by PolitiFact and indeed, 6 members of the Walton clan own the same as the bottom 41.5% of Americans.  In 2010, the median family in America had a net worth was just over $77,000.   Collectively the Waltons’ worth is over $100,000,000,000.  That is almost 13 million times the median income.  My thinking is that they could probably afford to pay their employees a living wage without having to dig too deep into the principle of their holdings. 

Christy Walton, widow of Walmart founder John Walton, has a net worth of 25.3 billion.  If she made a very modest 5% on that amount her interest alone would amount to 1 billion 175 million per year.  Just the interest. 

It’s hard to figure just what Walmart pays its employees.  This from The company pegs its average hourly wage at $12.78, but that figure includes managers and excludes workers who aren’t full-time. Drawing on 2011 IBIS world data and surveys, OUR Walmart activists have pegged the wage at less than $9 per hour.  But if 1.4 million Americans work at Walmart, and their salary was increased from around $19,000 a year to $25,000, it would be the proverbial drop in the bucket for the Waltons.

Many who work at Walmart struggle to make ends meet.  And many must receive government support in order to feed their families.  According to, Walmart’s low wage policy costs taxpayers around $6.2 billion. 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.”  Honestly, to me that sounds un-American. 

I agree with Pastor Troy Jackson of the AMOS Project in Cincinnatti.  He marched with workers who were trying to convince management to pay them a living wage.  “In Luke 12, Jesus talks of a rich fool who kept building bigger and bigger storehouses for his wealth, while those around suffered…  I am here today, because the leaders of Walmart have become rich fools, so focused on their own growing empire that they are blinded to the pain and suffering of their workers, whom they are oppressing.”  

Don't get me wrong.  The Waltons should be rich.  This is America.  Sam Walton left his fortune to his heirs.  I get that.  But to hold the wealth of the bottom 40% of Americans seems absurd when many of their workers qualify for food stamps.  You'd think that would be embarrassing, even mortifying for the Walton family.  

Some of the numbers in my piece I crunched on my own (, thankyouverymuch).  The video below is much more precise and very convincing.  If you've read this far, please watch.    

That perfect little spot in the sun.

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