Wal-Mart, Corporate Citizen
Wal-Mart is working to open stores in several locations around Portland in the next few years. This article discusses the probable effects if thier efforts succeed.
Attention Please... .Wal-Mart is coming. Their sights are set on Portland, and they want you to save money soon! Location scouts are considering sites in SE Portland, Beaverton, and Gresham, and your neighborhood may be the next place to save.
When Wal-Mart opens, they will contribute many things to our community. They will create jobs, pay taxes, provide affordable products to Portland, and maybe even build a traffic-light or sidewalk.
Wall Mart employs an army of handsome consultants and lobbyists to repeat these high points at every possible opportunity. Nobody can argue with the benefits of Wal-Mart, they really do all the things they say. Their colors are also red, white, and blue.
However, if you look just a little bit deeper—say, the last two paragraphs of most major media stories about Wal-Mart—the value of their community contribution vanishes.
Wal-Mart will create jobs, but probably less than will be lost when local businesses that cannot compete close. Nearly all Wal-Mart jobs will be lower paid than the jobs lost, which depresses Portland's economy. Sure, Wal-Mart prices will be low, but if you lose a decent job and replace it with $8/hour, no health care, and a free blue vest, you might decide you want the old prices back.
The effects of Wal-Mart will not be evenly distributed in portland. For every laid-off worker, or family that looses health insurance, someone else will get a $29 dvd player, or Gigantic Bag of Doritos for only $3.99—you might be lucky.
But in the long run, the effects Wal-Mart will trickle down. Portland will spend millions of dollars at our new SuperCenters. Then, our economy will contract as our money leaves in armored trucks bound for Arkansas .
But, Wal-Mart will pay taxes, exactly as much as they must. When Wal-Mart opens, however, you can bet they will do everything possible to avoid them—maybe even set up a few yards outside of city limits. They will defiantly spend millions on aggressive lobbying for tax breaks, wage-law exemptions, and zoning variances, because it works.
And the taxes they pay will probably not equal the financial burden they impose. In most states, Wal-Mart employees are the largest recipients of taxpayer supported social services like Medicaid. Their employees will probably need to be on the Oregon Health Plan, because Wal-Mart provides benefits less often than most employers .
In the long run, Portland will pay dearly for the low prices Wal-Mart brings
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the world's largest retailer, with $285.2 billion in sales in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2005.
According to Wal-Mart's own website, they employ 1.6 million associates, and only 568,000 (36%) receive health insurance. Those lucky enough to be covered pay "as little as" $151.57 a month for a family. [link]/
"We're proud of what we've accomplished; we've just begun." - Sam Walton, Wal-Mart Founder.
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