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Democratic Voices

August 28, 2004

Republican Priorities- Wal-Mart Reveals, New York Conceals

With the Corporate Media focused on the PR event of the Republican National Convention in New York City, voters would be better served by looking at the actions and policies of the Wal-Mart Corporation to see Republican values at work in the American economy and how voters are impacted as workers, consumers and taxpayers. Republican policies are the same as those of the Wal-Mart Corporation's when it comes to economics issues.

Few Americans realize how closely aligned the economics interests of the Wal-Mart top management and the Bush Republicans truly are when it comes to government policy. Wal-Mart is probably the largest single economic engine driving manufacturing jobs out of the United States to third world nations like China, India and Mexico. (China's legal minimum hourly wage is 31 cents and many Wal-Mart suppliers pay less.) They long ago abandoned their "Buy American" slogan in their drive to lower prices regardless of the economic impact on the American nation. It is the belief of these writers that the politically costly embrace of the Bush White House to the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs can be traced in part to Wal-Mart's activities in the political arena.

Wal-Mart operates the largest company PAC (Political Action Committee) in the nation. In the past 2 years, they donated $1.3 million in political donations. A total of 81 percent went to Republicans. This percentage was the strongest Republican tilt of any of the top 25 Corporate PAC's! Additionally, there were huge donations of campaign cash by top Wal-Mart executives, stockholders and suppliers to Republicans.

Wal-Mart pays some of the lowest wages in the retail sector. Kerry wants to raise the minimum wage to $7 from the current $5.15. The increase would require Wal-Mart to move towards paying their employees a more reasonable wage. We do not find the Bush Republicans to be strong supporters of increasing the minimum wage. Wages and household income have actually been declining under this Bush Administration for huge numbers of Americans. The minimum wage has not been keeping up with inflation for decades! Outsourcing and low wages are both Republican and Wal-Mart policies.

Health care policies are another example of their mutually distorted priorities that are hurting the American nation. Wal-Mart covers less than half the company's workers in their health care program. The program is not very comprehensive and is very expensive to the individual employee. Taxpayers are often picking up the bill for these uninsured or underinsured Wal-Mart workers because the show up in emergency rooms without the ability to pay the emergency care bills. This health care issue contributes to rising health care costs for all consumers and other employers who do provide good employee health care benefits! A recent PBS program on Wal-Mart had an elected official in California revealing that Wal-Mart workers use 40 percent more in taxpayer provided government services than employees of other similar businesses.

Kerry believes in using the private sector with governmental assistance to help solve the uninsured American health care crisis. Kerry's health care proposal would encourage employers to provide comprehensive health care coverage with government financial help in providing funding for catastrophic health care costs. The current Wal-Mart health care coverage is so poor that it is unlikely that the government catastrophic assistance would kick in unless Wal-Mart upgraded their program. Wal-Mart seems to like the Bush Administration approach to the uninsured American health care crisis, which is to ignore it. Letting the working poor suffer and die is not a workable policy for these writers or most Americans. (See NWSource.com for many of the details above)

Wal-Mart's purchasing policies contribute to our exploding trade deficit. These deficits undermine our long-term national security and economic health. The Bush Administration has no policy for addressing these deficits any more than they have for addressing the national debt.

The Bush Administration has cut the overtime pay for working supervisors and many other Americans. These policies have financially benefited Wal-Mart and hurt already poorly paid Wal-Mart workers. Wal-Mart has been repeatedly sued for not paying overtime pay when required by law. The financial loss to workers has been estimated in the hundreds of millions or more.

The Bush Administration has made it increasingly difficult for workers to unionize. Wal-Mart is rabidly anti-union. Most labor leaders in America would cite Wal-Mart as the most anti-labor union large company in America. Kerry would make it easier for Wal-Mart workers to seek union protection.

Here are a few more Wal-Mart numbers of interest. The current CEO Lee Scott has received an average pay of $23 million between 2000 and 2003. This was up from the previous CEO David Glass average pay of $4.5 million between 1995 and 2000. Under Bush, the rich get much richer while household incomes have declined 3 years in a row.

The average annual cost of a 200 worker Wal-Mart store to taxpayers has been estimated by Stan Cox in "Wal-Mart By The Numbers" at $420,750 in school lunches, food stamps, health care, housing, etc. (See NotOnTheBox.com for more on the details above and more)

Voters need to ignore PR spin, smears and 30 second emotional TV ads. We need to look at economic policies and their impact. We need to vote on facts and numbers. Look at Wal-Mart to see the Bush policies in action before you select your candidate. If you want Wal-Mart top management priorities as government policy, Bush is your man. If not, Kerry is your best alternative in November!

Written By Stephen Crockett and Al Lawrence (hosts of DemocraticTalkRadio.com ).
Mail: 7A Planville Drive, Fayetteville, TN 37334.
Phone: 931-438-1500 or 443-421-0287.
Feel free to run as a Democratic Voices column, guest Editorial or Letter To The Editor.


Sincerely,
Stephen Crockett and Al Lawrence



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