Earth to Wal-Mart

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Seriously, with billions of dollars available for their lobbying fight, you'd think Wal-Mart would figure a few basic things out. This item was tucked into a letter they sent to Oregon legislators last week:

Wal-Mart strives to be a catalyst for a strong economy and jobs wherever we have the honor of doing business - and that includes the state of Oregon. Now with 28 stores, clubs, and other facilities throughout the state, we employ over 9,800 associates who helped collected more than $14.7 million in sales taxes last year.

Um, excuse me? Sales tax? in Oregon?

Read the whole letter (PDF, 480k) and ponder for yourself: What planet are they living on?

  • Pale Jenova (unverified)

    Heh, heh, Wal-Mart. I'll bet their still pissed because Fred Meyer opened its new store in Fairbanks, AK in the same parking lot as a Wal-Mart, and the Fred Meyer store is kicking Wal-Mart's fuzzy butt.

    One thing about an improving economy (if slowly): when customers see a dirty store filled with underpaid, disgruntled 'associates' selling cheap plastic crap from China, they do realize they can now afford to go elsewhere.

  • afs (unverified)

    Walmart's groundbreaking innovations in public relations save the company millions each year. Walmart's decision to start hiring public relations staff straight out of fiction writers workshops drastically cuts down on the need for expensive marketing graduates from business schools and research departments. Creating one's own reality is so much more cost-efficient than analyzing the real world.

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    I pity the junior person on Wal-Mart's communications staff, sitting in a grey cubicle somewhere in Arkansas, who had to draft this letter, clearly a one-size fits all job for all 50 states. I'm sure the letter had a "insert sales tax data here" hole that was filled with a different number for each one. Still, this is poor even by Wal-Mart standards. I hope the junior PR person has health insurance.

  • Jay (unverified)

    Isn't Wood Village moving toward adopting a sales tax? And isn't there a Wal-Mart in Wood Village?

    Maybe Wal-Mart has figured out Oregon voters and Oregon trends before Oregonians have? Wow - their tentacles run deep...

  • Gregor (unverified)

    Either that or they have veterans of Stuart Anderson doing their bookkeeping and they're pulling an Enron. Prices are reduced on the books and the diiference is allocated to a sales tax that never makes it to any government entity. Wonder how the Feds would feel about that?

    PS - Maybe Mr. Walton believes he's the real Uncle Sam?

  • McBain (unverified)

    Since each of the Walton heirs have an annual fortune of $18 billion dollars (that's right they are 5 of the 10 richest people in the World - check out maybe the could sink a little into their employee's health care and lighten the load on the Oregon Health Plan. Then they would not even have to talk about their sales tax idea.

    Also, why are they trying to sound like a victim? As noted above, the Wal-Mart empire contains 5 out of the 10 richest people in the WORLD. I, for one, do not feel sorry for them at all. Maybe they should have not developed a business practice that relied on public subsidies - I'd rather they become a model employer.

  • Patrick Allen (unverified)

    OK, first, I am NOT defending Walmart but, before we get too carried away:

    It looks like the error they made was the characterization of the $14 million as sales tax, not the amount. On their "facts" website, they list this as "state and local taxes," not sales tax. In comparison, for Washington, they list around $13 million in "state and local taxes" and about $166 million in "sales taxes."

    I actually think the funnier figure in the letter is the one that says getting a job at Walmart only gets half of those on public assistance off.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    The bottom line on WalMart is 50%.

    That's their percentage of annual worker turnover.

    Almost as high as the US military, circa 2005!

  • Robert Mullin (unverified)

    I actually think the funnier figure in the letter is the one that says getting a job at Walmart only gets half of those on public assistance off.

    Wal-Mart employment as workfare. Think of it as a Public-Private Partnership.

    The health insurance plan costs mentioned are meaningless without knowledge of what employees get for their money. We'd need to know the co-payments and deductibles for those particular bottom-of-the-line plans.

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    Also, why are they trying to sound like a victim?

    They always try to play the victim. I'd gladly be a victim if it yielded that kind of revenue! And I'd use some of it to pay my employees livable wages and give them adequate healthcare. Wouldn't that be nice of me? Wait, then I wouldn't have any reason to be on the defensive. Hmm.

    Anwyay... it puzzles me why what is basically a department store feels the need to have an entire website defending their company. I mean, Target doesn't have one, Fred Meyer, ShopKo, K-Mart, etc.... they don't have one (other than their standard corporate websites). Yet Wal-Mart does. Could it be that they doth protesteth just a bit too much? Methinks. Whiners. If they just fixed the damned problems rather than defending them whith rhetoric.... yeah, like that's ever gonna happen.

    And as for the blatant error in the letter, that's what you get when you under-pay workers! D'oh!

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Maybe Walmart wants a sales tax. Perhaps we could help them out?

  • TimNE (unverified)

    You hate corporations.. yeah that's it..and capitalism and America too. Damn Walmart haters ;)

    I never get tired of making fun of the right.

  • Jenn (unverified)

    Helped collected? Sounds like their copy editors are falling asleep on the job, too.

  • Johnnyredman (unverified)

    The Wal-Mart slogan (as we all know) is "always low prices...always." Obviously, that comes at a price.

    If being surrounded by pleasant, well-groomed employee's is a necessary part of your shopping experience, then go to Fred Meyer. If you like rock-bottom prices and don't mind being surrounded by mountain dew-sipping retards, head for wally world.

    Bottom a consumer, I DO NOT CARE if they offer their employees benefits, health insurance, or decent wages.

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    Bottom a consumer, I DO NOT CARE if they offer their employees benefits, health insurance, or decent wages

    Uh. Wow. This is the problem with America. Period. Somewhere along the line at least half the friggin' country stopped caring about anybody but themselves.

    So we'll turn this around for a second... what about the fact that having Wal-Mart in YOUR neighborhood reduces YOUR property values. Now do you care? Or do you not care because there's not one in your area? There might be someday and then you might sing a different tune.

    What about the fact that their lack of pay and benefits causes them to turn to state-aid for food stamps and state and county assistance for healthcare. That comes out of your tax dollars. Tax dollars that could be diverted to educate your children or pave your roads. Perhaps as a consumer you don't care, but as a citizen of this state (country, planet), you certainly should.

  • JohnnyRedman (unverified)

    You raise some interesting arguments...but unfortunately, if I decide to go out and purchase a few DVD's, for example, I want the lowest price. Period. It is not my responsiblity to fund health care. Besides....wasn't Hillary Clinton going to fix that, what happend to that?

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    It is not my responsiblity to fund health care

    You may not see it as your responsibility, but you're doin' it - through tax dollars. When they keep their wages that low and make benefits so unattainable, the employees turn to the state. You pay a higher price that way than you would if you shopped at Fred Meyer. Who also has low-priced DVDs. So does your local video store - previously viewed, of course (reduce, reuse, recycle!).

    You really don't get it do you?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Johnny Redman has written:

    "Bottom a consumer, I DO NOT CARE if they offer their employees benefits, health insurance, or decent wages. ... (AND)

    It is not my responsiblity to fund health care."

    Johnny - what you don't seem to realize is that your position sponsors corporate welfare. Yes, you are a welfare supporter.

    What is going on with government and business now is that business is "outsourcing" its expenses. Electrical utilities have a lower operating expense if they can put more mercury into the air - "outsourcing" it and we all pay the health costs of that. Since government pays via Medicare and Medicaid for half the health care in America - you pay for mercury pollution. When Walmart underpays their employees with a mixture of minimum wage jobs and hours just under the threshold of those that would mandate that they pay for health care benefits - they have "outsourced" to government and to you several expenses. They have "outsourced" the health care of the employees and their dependent children, they have "outsourced" daycare expenses to govenment programs, they have "outsourced" school lunches to government, and they probably have "outsourced" a whole lot of things we can't even think of to government (some would qualify for free Tri-met passes in the Portland area, for example).

    Johnny - When our government pays for the "outsourced" costs of these necessary services, it takes money away from other parts of govenment. It takes money away from schools, senior services, transportaton (yep, Walmart is indirectly partly responsible for that pothole in front of your house), etc. We the citizens of Oregon and the United States are an interconnected web of participants in our society. When we allow one part to act irresponsibly, it affects all of us. When corporations are irresponsible with the help of people like you, ironically people like you (and me) don't pay more or less taxes, we just get less for what we pay.

    Johnny, I don't know you, but I wonder if you aren't one of those people who also complain that government is an overall bad deal, that you don't get what you pay for, that government is just a big rip-off.

    Johnny - it's actually your fault.

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    Since government pays via Medicare and Medicaid for half the health care in America

    Don't lump Medicare and Medicaid in with each other. The richest of the rich, provided they have worked their 40 quarters, qualify for Medicare. We have all paid into Medicare through payroll taxes and seniors pay a premium each month for their Part B coverage. They also have to pay to supplement the gaps in Medicare. It's not just for the poor. In fact, many of the poor can barely afford it.

    Sorry, just a pet peeve as someone who works with seniors and their insurance issues. :-)

    But other than that, I'm with ya Steve. :-)

  • JohnnyRedman (unverified)

    Steve, actually I am not one of "those people" who thinks the government is a "bad deal..." depending on the locale in which you live of course.

    Walmart provides its employees with work hours, stock options (although they do sound paltry) and wages. I should point out that NO ONE is forcing anyone to work at about trying to better oneself, get an education, and move into a job that offers benefits and decent wages.

    And finally, I'd be truly curious to know how WalMart's "corporate welfare" has any effect whatsoever on the pothole (or lack thereof) in front of my house? Please Steve, explain that to me...last time I checked the city (not the state or federal government) used property taxes to make road repairs.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Johnny -

    Actually, it is gas tax money first, and when that runs out it is local revenue, partly coming from property tax that fills the pothole. Some of that local money is revenue sharing such as the beer and wine tax, and other programs. In my County, we get Federal road dollars as part of PILT payments.

    But that's not the point, that I thought I explained so carefully. So here goes again.

    If Walmart employees receive government payments because Walmart is an irresponsible employer that doesn't pay enough or adequate salary and benefits - and this does happen - then those government payments for health care, school lunches, etc. use up government resources (tax dollars) that could be used elsewhere to among other things - fill your pothole. Its called an offset. In my little County, cutbacks in State funding have meant that my County dollars now are going more and more into health, mental health, juvenile services, etc. that used to have more State dollars. In my little County we are threatened with a cutback or end to the PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) Federal program. This means a lot since about half of this County is Federally owned. The PILT payments would be cut or cutback because the Federal budget is out of balance for lots of reasons including escalating health care costs. The Federal Government between its various programs pays for half of the health care in this Country - including health care for Walmart employees.

    As I said before, we all live in an interconnected web. An action in one part of government or society causes a reaction in others. Yep, Johnny, that pothole in front of your house is there partly because irresponsible corporations are not paying their fair share of costs. Corporations are paying the lowest taxes in the last 100 years right now. And to "outsource" expenses like health care just hurts at one more layer.

    Next week I will explain to you how Walmart causes acid rain, but I have to work on the connections for awhile. :)


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