November 19, 2013

Living Wages

Credit: Our Walmart
A study just released by DÄ“mos indicates that Wal-Mart could pay an average annual wage of $25,000 if it just halted the practice of buying back its stock at a cost of billions of dollars per year. This buy-back mostly benefits current stockholders, particularly the heirs of founder Sam Walton, who in 2009 owned about 42% of the company. A direct result of this siphoning of profits into the coffers of the have-mores is the sad tale of a Wal-Mart in Canton, OH where employees have set up donation bins at the Thanksgiving season to collect food from employees for distribution to other employees in need.

How extreme must the contrasts become before the Waltons realize that sharing wealth is a sustainable approach and hoarding wealth isn't? Perhaps, when their employees are so poor that they can't afford to shop in their own stores?

But pragmatism shouldn't be the primary impetus towards economic justice. I can say the following without qualification or hesitation: if you can afford to pay your employees a living wage, it is immoral not to do so.