America’s biggest company WalMart has been in the news a lot in the past few days – but perhaps not for the reasons they’d like. First, they blamed a poor sales performance in the last quarter on America’s new healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, claiming that it was forcing people to spend money on their health rather than buying consumer goods from their stores.
A few days later it was revealed that some WalMart stores were holding canned food drives for their own employees – asking staff to donate food for their less fortunate colleagues who couldn’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner.
All of this comes a few weeks after 54 people were arrested outside a Los Angeles WalMart for protesting against the company’s incredibly low wages. The protestors were demanding a minimum wage of $25,000 a year for each employee (for context, that’s around €18,000). Instead, they were met by police, and held overnight in jail unless they could produce $5,000 bail. One protestor told reporters his current wage was only $12,000 a year to look after himself and his two children.
These three stories about one company all touch on one of the biggest issues facing America (and the rest of the world) today: the increasing gap between the economic ‘winners’ at the top of the pile, and the rapidly expanding group of ‘losers’ that hold them up. A WalMart executive never has to worry about healthcare costs or feeding their family – those things cost a fraction of their monthly income. Meanwhile, the work of actually ensuring their employees can live or afford healthcare is passed down to the charity of their own colleagues.
In fact, the ways in which huge corporations like WalMart suck money from the middle and working classes goes even deeper. WalMart’s wages are so low that the majority of its employees have to rely on food stamps and other forms of government assistance to pay their rent, feed their families, and stay healthy. The money for that assistance has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the taxes of ordinary people – essentially, WalMart’s low wages are being subsidised by ordinary people across the country.
How have we ended up in this situation (and this doesn’t just happen in the US, WalMart is simply a highly visible example)? Through a system that focuses on growth and profit at all costs, to the exclusion of the well-being of people. A system which helps the people at the top stay there, at the expense of the rest of us. A system which supports inequality because it’s good for business.
These are issues that concern us greatly at the Territory of ‘Shell’ – instead of the modern gospel of profit and individualism, we aim to promote traditional values of family, friendship and mutual aid, and to replace faceless greed with a constructive new society of equality and fair treatment for all. We rely on independent thinkers and scientists to achieve this, and on our supporters to help spread the word far and wide. We take no funding from corporations. If you think you can help us achieve our goals, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
Article prepared by John Wish