Suddenly Walmart On Welfare Is Just Fine?

An amazing headline I’ve seen states, in its second half, that “food-stamp cuts hurt customers.”

So you would think the story is about people who have been hurt by food stamp cuts. You would think there is some evidence of children going hungry or adults being under-nourished.

But no, as the richest nation on earth, even our poor manage to feed themselves, even with a really small cut in the food stamps available to them. In fact, as James Bovard has pointed out,

Numerous studies going back to the 1970s have linked food stamps to poor eating habits. Baruch College professor Diane Gibson estimated that participation in the food-stamp program for five years boosted the odds of young girls being overweight by 43 percent. Professor Charles Baum, writing in the Southern Economic Journal, estimated that food-stamp recipients are far more likely to be obese than eligible nonrecipients and warned that “chronic food-stamp receipt may promote lifestyle changes that lead to weight gain.”

So the mere fact that there was a miniscule cut in food stamps does not prove, by itself, that anyone has been hurt.

So why would it suddenly appear in a headline?

Here’s the full headline from Reuters on the CNBC website: “Wal-Mart forecast disappoints, food-stamp cuts hurt customers.”

So, whatever the story is going to say about anyone getting hurt from a reduction in food stamps, the occasion for the headline is that Walmart is hurting.

Wal-Mart’s grocery sales have suffered from fewer food-stamp benefits resulting from U.S. federal budget cuts in November. One in five of its shoppers relies on food stamps, according to Cowen analyst Tal Lev.

But again, does that mean children are starving or that families are cutting back on overpriced bags of potato chips?

By the way, it doesn’t even seem factually correct since, immediately preceding the claim about food stamp cuts preceding sales, we read in the story:

A major factor in Wal-Mart’s U.S. performance was a “low-single-digit decline” in sales of groceries at stores open at least a year, which generate about half of its sales.

In contrast, supermarket operators Kroger and Safeway reported comparable sales increases for their most recent quarters.

So what happened to the food stamp customers of Kroger and Safeway? Do they not have any?

But even if food stamp cuts are hurting Walmart, so what? Walmart and McDonald’s have been attacked as “Welfare Queens.” Why? Because of the crime of paying their employees the price they can afford to pay their employees—who have learned to help themselves in expenses through the services the Federal and State governments offer. This has been used as an argument to force them to pay higher wages.

But if it is wrong for them to be “welfare queens” just because some of their employees receive government aid, then how does giving Walmart welfare through food stamps become OK?

The headline basically uses the poor as a way of getting us to support corporate welfare. I’m not moved by such manipulation and you shouldn’t be either.