If this woman who wrote for Slate is being truthful, then she is in a very bad situation. She can’t afford her own place and has to sleep on the floor at her son’s house. She also may have colon cancer but can’t afford to go to the doctor.
These are really bad things but why should her employer be singled out as the responsible party?
When I woke up to see the news, I could hardly believe it: President Obama is planning a visit to the Mountain View Wal-Mart where I work.
But the excitement quickly passed when I found out the store would be shutting down hours in advance of his visit. I wouldn’t be able to tell the president what it’s like to work at Wal-Mart and what it’s like to struggle on low wages, without the hours I need. I am living at the center of the income inequality that he speaks about so often, and I wanted to talk to him about how to change this problem.
Things have always been tight. After four years working at Wal-Mart in Mountain View, I am bringing home about $400 every two weeks (I’d like to get more hours, but I’m lucky if I work 32 hours a week). That’s not enough to pay for bills, gas and food. All I can afford to eat for lunch is a cup of coffee and a bag of potato chips. I’ve always done everything possible to stretch paychecks and scrape by. Sometimes it means not getting enough to eat.
But how is it Walmart’s fault that she doesn’t get adequate pay? Walmart only gets customers by selling at low prices. If they raise their prices they will lose business and have to lay off employees. Then this poor woman won’t have any income at all.
Walmart can’t force customers to keep coming and purchasing the same number of goods at higher prices. If it could do so, then it would make sense to blame Walmart for not paying more.
I wanted to tell the president I am scared. I am scared for my health. I am scared for the future for my grandkids. And I am scared and sad about the direction that companies like Wal-Mart are taking our country.
But Walmart isn’t taking the country anywhere. The country is taking Walmart into places it probably won’t survive. All Walmart can do is try to get stuff to sell at prices that are low enough to attract shoppers. The minute the economy gets tough enough that people stop shopping at Walmart, then they will join Borders and Circuit City in the ash pit of history.
I don’t blame this woman for being scared, but she is letting her fear cloud her judgment.
I want the president to help us and tell Wal-Mart to pay us enough to cover the bills and take care of our families. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask from such a profitable company, a company that sets the standard for jobs in this country. And I hope it’s not too much to ask from a president who believes that income inequality is the defining challenge of our time.
How is the company going to stay profitable or even solvent if it pays all those people more? And if it does so, it will have to raise prices. That means that these people who get paid more will suddenly find that food and clothing cost more.
Preaching at a retailer for not taking care of employees’ livelihoods is irrational.