Wal-Mart's Effect on America

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"Always low prices, always", does this sound familiar? Well this is the slogan of the world's most powerful company, Wal–Mart. Making its mark in 1915 as the five and dime store, Wal–Mart expanded and grew over the years into a 256 billion dollar company. Over the recent years of Wal-Mart's growth, some people believe that Wal-Mart supports and builds the American economy while others hold that Wal–Mart's global outsourcing will damage the American economy over time. When comparing the two opposing points, Wal-Mart has been more destructive than constructive to our economy in that it has destroyed more jobs then it has created, the employees receive little to no healthcare, and Wal-Mart has also degraded our environment.

Wal-Mart's army of around 3,400 stores has created some job opportunities, but think of all the jobs lost due to choking out small locally owned businesses as well as the thousands of factory jobs lost due to Wal-Mart's low production demands. Wal-Mart's size, convenience, as well as its variety of over 120,000 items makes Wal-Mart a fierce competitor to any business. Due to Wal-Mart being built in the majority of cities and towns no matter the social status, many striving small businesses cannot compete with Wal-Mart's unbeatably low prices and convenience and are forced to terminate their business. This may be an example of "survival of the fittest", but this process is hurting the economy. Eighty percent of Wal-Mart's suppliers are from China and that means the more Wal-Mart's there are, the more foreign products floating around, and less American made production (Is Wal-Mart Good for America). This lack of American production is what causes American factories to shut down leaving their employees without jobs. Even if these employees decided to work with Wal-Mart, they would make around half of their normal salary, as well as no pension, health care, or the job security benefits that have been the norm in factory work. "A 2003 wage analysis reported that cashiers, the second most common job, earn approximately $7.92 per hour and work 29 hours a week. This brings in annual wages of only $11,948" (Wal-Mart Wages and Worker Rights 1). With Wal-Mart paying employees at such low pay, it is amazing that their employees can support themselves.

The majority of Wal-Mart jobs have little or no health benefits. Therefore, Wal-Mart encourages its employees to find public assistance for their health care. For example, over the past two years, 13 states have disclosed employers that are major users of state provided health insurance programs which are targeted to low-income families. Wal-Mart was found to be at the top of the list in all 13 states. When combining the results of all 13 states, the states disclose that at least 55,000 Wal-Mart employees, children, and spouses are supported by state health insurance programs. Among these 13 states, there are a total of 480,000 Wal-Mart employees. This means that on average for every nine Wal-Mart employees, at least one Wal-Mart family member is receiving state provided health care. Wal-Mart's negligence to provide their employees with adequate health insurance has led to an increasing burden on health care programs across the United States, but it has also cost American's more money. In 2004, it was estimated that $2.5 billion dollars in federal assistance was available for Wal-Mart employees; which means $2.5 billion more dollars to add to federal and state taxes. An average 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This amount comes from factors such as low-income housing assistance, federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, student programs, energy assistance, as well as many other additions (Major Users of State Provided Health Insurance Programs 1).

Not only does Wal-Mart cut back on employee healthcare and shut down businesses, but it has also caused a great deal of environmental damage....
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