The largest private employer in the United States of America is tightening its belt, tightening that belt around the throats of the 1.3 million workers caught in its trap. The workers paradise of Walmart is cutting back on its expansive health care benefits program. That’s sarcasm if you didn’t guess, since most Walmart employees don’t get health coverage now and rely on Medicaid or good luck.
Republicans whine about the big government welfare state but think nothing of subsidizing employers by providing healthcare and food stamps for their employees while simultaneously pushing to eliminate the minimum wage the employers must pay.
Walmart will make what benefits it does offer unavailable for any new hire that doesn’t consistently work more the 24 hours per week for a year. Keeping workers hours restricted keeps them poor, and a second job will likely result in dismissal. Walmart will also double the premiums for many existing employees who almost all make less than $10.00/hour. When the minimum wage was established during the height of the Great Depression at at 25 cents/hour and would be, when adjusted for inflation, somewhere between $12 and $14/hour today.
Keep in mind that 25 cents/hour was not big money even in 1938. That’s $2.00/day compared to the $5/day that Henry Ford was paying in 1910. The fact that Republicans don’t think anybody who works for a living is worthy of even 1938 starvation wages should tell you everything you need to know.
The corporate media is cluck-clucking about how Walmart has no choice but to do this given rising health costs and the bad economy. The funny thing is that in most markets where Walmart operates they have a virtual monopoly, they can charge any price they want to and do. When a Walmart comes into a community they selectively cut prices until all of their competition is gone. Even in larger communities they only share the market with other big box stores who operate much the same way.
Walmart is experiencing diminishing returns because they not only eliminate the retail merchants in the communities they establish their iron fisted occupation, but they do away with the private sector middle class entirely. Accountants, lawyers, bankers, pharmacists, doctors, dentists, hairstylists, automotive shops and tradesmen of all types are driven out as Walmart either competes directly and unfairly, or Walmart eliminates their markets by sucking the money out of the local economy.
All that is left to shop at the ideal Walmart are government workers, prison guards, illegals working at the packing plant and retired people. Enter Republican austerity, government jobs are eliminated, prisons while growing are paying lower wages to a smaller staff, even the packing plants are cutting back because of out sourcing and falling demand from a declining economy, and retirement benefits are being slashed while the wealth accumulated by a lifetime of hard work by those retirees is destroyed by Wall Street.
Not to fear for Walmart, the billionaire owners are doing better than ever, the workers can still be made to work even harder for ever less pay. The worse the economy gets, the more incentive workers have to comply. If they won’t, any job posting brings thousands of hungry applicants.
The goal of course isn’t to destroy the economy but to convert it to a “full employment” Neo-feudalism model where there are plenty of incentives to work harder and to comply. All assets whether now private or in the public commons will become corporate assets. If you work hard enough, comply with the boss’s every whim and are just plain lucky you will be rewarded with almost enough of the things that make your life bearable like food and heat, right up until your luck runs out. Time to start making your own luck. www.prairie2.com