Walmart Takes Red Pen to Typical NY Times Wage Gap Column


Prices so low they'll drive progressives insane!
Credit: JeepersMedia / photo on flickr

Timothy Egan over at the New York Times opined in a poorly argued, talking-points-laden screed about how terrible Walmart is. Typically this would be dog-bites-man stuff. It contains stupid sentences like this one: "It's a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class," as though the money the government grabs to attempt to (extremely poorly) manage these things would exist at all were it not for the marketplace that created corporations in the first place (and as if the extremely poor government management isn't what is driving up prices of health care and education as well).

But something different happened this time, causing a bit of viral buzz in conservative-libertarian circles. Walmart took a red pen to Egan's column and posted it on their site, with corrections. In response to Egan calling Walmart a drain to taxpayers, they argue they're the biggest taxpayer in the country. In response to him claiming the company forces employees onto public assistance, they point out that they are responsible for moving employees off public assistance. They even note that one piece of evidence of Walmart's bad behavior was debunked by Politifact. In response to a simplistic back-of-the-napkin mathematical claim by a Fortune writer that Walmart could increase the wages by all their employees by 50 percent with no consequences, Walmart suggests checking out the description of the company from a gentleman named Jason Furman.

Read the whole thing here. (Tip to Walmart's public relations folks: If you want people clicking on links, actually make them links, not images of site addresses that can't even be copied or pasted.)

Walter Olson over at the Cato Institute noted Furman is President Barack Obama's current chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and what he had to say about Walmart:

Wal-Mart's low prices help to increase real wages for the 120 million Americans employed in other sectors of the economy. And the company itself does not appear to pay lower wages or benefits than similar companies, or to cause substantially lower wages in the retail sector…

[T]o the degree the anti-Wal-Mart campaign slows or halts the spread of Wal-Mart to new areas, it will lead to higher prices that disproportionately harm lower-income families…

By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans.

As usual, during this poorly argued babble about the "income gap," what is left out is how much more the poor and middle class are able to get for their wages thanks to places like Walmart. It will not be the one percent flooding the stores come Black Friday buying television sets the size of dinner tables. It's interesting how the things that are allegedly becoming less and less obtainable for the poor and middle class (education and health care) have been heavily regulated and managed by the government.

NEXT: 'Hot Felon' Illustrates Culture of State Supervision, Incarceration

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Glad to see Wal-Mart is willing to take on the administration and its lackeys in the Dem-Op media complex (because, make no mistake, this screed is part of a joint operation).

    Would that more companies would do so. And do so in such a light-hearted and entertaining way.

    1. It’s not bad and yes, more companies need to take their balls out of the box they store them in, and put them back on.

      Still it bows in unwirthyness to TJ Rodgers famous “fuck you” letter to nuns.

    2. I’m thinking there is room for an app/plugin that allows people to do this to articles.

  2. what is left out is how much more the poor and middle class are able to get for their wages thanks to places like Walmart.

    Most people don’t seem to understand or care about the distinction between money and wealth. They look only at wages, not what the wages can buy.

    1. This. It is truly incredible. It’s like a national learning defect.

    2. Wages have been stagnent for 40 years now, doncha know?

    3. They can’t get fresh produce or anything healthy to eat there. At least I assume that; I would never set foot in a Walmart myself.

      1. Check it out sometime, Fist. It’s the anti-Whole Foods.

        1. I the FoE was trying to make hisself sound like an ignorant prog.

          1. All of their produce is wilted and rotting and their cheap, Chinese merchandise is defective! And they gave me the crabs!

          2. BTW, despite the less-than-stellar clientele, I adore shopping at Whore Foods. I love John Mackey and gladly give him my money.

            1. Their house brand stuff is cheap and good. I don’t go often, but when I do I stock up on 365 Tonic Water.

            2. I stopped shopping at WF once I moved to a place that has Mariano’s.

            3. The last time I went to Whole Foods it was Sunday morning, there were probably twenty or so people waiting in the various checkout lines, and I was the only person without a yoga mat.

      2. Where else can you pick up milk and a new tv?

        1. Target. Wal Mart for grown ups.

          1. Costco.

            But only if you want a whole cow of milk, and at least a 72 foot TV.

            Which is awesome.

        2. Meijer! Walmart for those in Indiana/Michigan/Illinois/Kentucky/Ohio.

          I stocked groceries there on 3rd shift while I was in college and we got paid better wages than Walmart.

      3. AFAIK, monocles are one of the few things Wal-mart does not carry.

        1. But I did get a nice pair of spats there.

        2. My mistake, Walmart online’s got ’em. A 3-pack for $8. And, buying online leaves plenty of former greeters, stockboys, and cashiers to polish them for nickels.

        3. Yeah, I had a hard time finding a waistcoat and ivory topped cane there too.

          Walmart does not sell nearly enough goods for me to look like the capitalist robber baron I really am.

          -5 points to Walmart for not bringing the evuhlz properly.

      4. Nor should you, their grocery stores are in fact largely processed junk and while they do sell fresh meats it’s prices tend not to be very good and their produce section is very very limited in their options.

        That said their prices on the processed junk are lower than other stores so if you’re gonna stock up on General Mills, Kellogg, and Nabisco products anyway then Wal Mart is the place to go shopping, if not stick to your local grocery store.

      5. They can’t get fresh produce or anything healthy to eat there

        Some of the best peaches I’ve ever eaten were bought at a Walmart. Between a Super Walmart, a Home Depot and a liquor store you can get pretty much everything you need to live out a happy, middle-class life.

      6. Walmart produce is actually pretty good (for grocery store stuff). Their meat isn’t the best.

  3. This piece of easily-debunked shit is just astoundingly convenient for the DNC. I can see the commercials in October now:

    “Republicans in Congress have given up the pretense of doing anything to improve the lot of most Americans.” – New York Times, 2014

    Is this who you want representing you?

    1. I’ll like the pro-Democrat ads though, a la “Idiocracy”:

      “Democrats will give you a million dollars!” – New York Times, 2014.

  4. The left will hate Walmart until they are able to get it unionized. At which point Walmart’s business will decline as consumer flock to the next retail giant who offers lower prices.

    1. If that happens I hope Walmart liquidates all of their assets, distributes the proceeds to their shareholders, and permanently shuts down operations.

      Which is actually what they should do if they’re unable to run a sufficiently profitable business.

  5. There’s a brand new giant Walmart near my parent’s house in central PA. The groceries are markedly cheaper than at the supermarket in Philly. Also, ammunition, cheap groceries and jean shorts all at the same location. What’s not to like?

    1. What’s not to like?

      The jean shorts?

      1. Depends on who’s wearing them.

      2. I don’t understand the jean shorts hate.…..d57a8e.jpg

        Granted, she* is an FSU supporter hating on a UFL supporter, but I don’t see how he looks any worse than the guy standing next to him.

        *Also, jean shorts bad, jean skirts** ok?

        **IMO, of course jean skirts are ok.

        1. Cereal Killer: Spandex Jean shorts: it’s a privilege, not a right.

          Also this guy cracked me up.

          1. Isn’t the real problem men in short shorts?

            *anticipates Jesse’s response, walks away*

            1. I don’t see how it’s any different than women in short shorts. 80% of the people wearing them shouldn’t be. If you’re a dude and you’re not Tom Selleck, you should probably reconsider them.

        2. Jean shorts are OK if they are cutoffs made from long pants and the wearer is an attractive young woman or a drunk dude passed out in a kiddie pool.

  6. Ah, the ever-dependable NYT commenters:

    rtc montreal 3 days ago
    I have never set foot in a Walmart and I never will.

    On an old Star Trek episode there was a gigantic creature that could make itself appear to be anything you desired. When your starship approached the beast it swallowed the ship whole. Walmart swallows entire communities by pretending to be something people want – jobs, low prices. Unfortunately jobs and low prices become low priced jobs and local businesses are priced out of existence. The Star Trek beast couldn’t be destroyed so our intrepid crew placed a marker buoy near it to warn other ships to steer clear. Walmarts should have marker buoys near by.

    I get my opinions directly from the Times without thought or question and I am proud of it! Actually, come to think of it, this may be Tony.

    1. Unfortunately jobs and low prices become low priced jobs and local businesses are priced out of existence.

      I used to feel that way. Now I think.

        1. Borrowers don’t like it.

          1. And who’s the biggest borrower of them all?

            1. Someone is catching on.

              1. Creditors don’t love it either because they can’t point to it and say, “hey look, borrow some money from us today, we’ll take a hit off the top, you pay it back in less valuable dollars, and when shit goes down, we’ll hang it on the taxpayers (that’s you stupid). Everyone is doing it!”

    2. While there is something to the idea that Walmarts push out small businesses in small towns, change is inevitable, everywhere. My uncle had a TV shop in a small town in KS(he has passed, so no longer there), when a Walmart came in to town. He couldn’t compete with them on price, but he could on service. Should a TV bought at Walmart need servicing, the chain store would send it to a repair center while my uncle was a certified repair center for the brands he sold. That kept his busines thriving. He even did warranty repairs on TVs bought at Walmart for which he was certified, getting payment from the manufacturer. Coopers, blacksmiths and milkmen all had to adapt to changes in the market, which is what my uncle did, and it worked.

      1. I only object to the Walmart dominance when it comes via the free giveaways that localities are so wont to provide. Property tax breaks and other tax incentives are not acceptable.

        1. Except DC, which tried to make Wal Mart pay a higher wage than everybody else.

      2. And how many coopers, blacksmiths, and milkmen survived that change?

        Obviously we need to curtail innovation and punish success, before more outmoded honest jobs are rendered pointless destroyed by market efficiency rapacious profiteers.

        1. I like how you clean up your act. You almost had me thinking you were one of the tea partiers.

          1. It’s a language worth learning. You can spend entire cocktail parties brutally mocking their politics, and they’ll be nodding fiercly with every word.

            1. Or I could just not go to those parties. Ick.

        2. Actually, blacksmiths are doing pretty well now. Seems that, the more people get richer, the more their daughter has to have a horse.

          Which leads to more business for blacksmiths, who can charge rich and middle class people more than dirt-poor farmers would ever have paid.

          1. Seems like they adapted just fine 😉

          2. Custom knife making and wrought-iron ornamentation can also bring in a lot of $$$.

      3. While there is something to the idea that Walmarts push out small businesses in small towns

        Indeed, but the same people who use this as a cudgel against Walmart are either stupid or evil.

        Look at the three segments of the market:

        1. People who would always shop at mom-and-pop stores, regardless of the existence of big-box stores;

        2. People who can afford to shop at mom-and-pop stores but would shop at a big box to save money if they could;

        3. People who cannot afford to shop at mom-and-pop stores but could afford to shop at big-box stores.

        There’s a 4th of course, people who couldn’t even afford to shop at big-box stores, but they’re not participating in the economy either way.

        Basically, people who say that Walmart shouldn’t open shop are saying that the 3rd group should be no better off than the 4th, and the 2nd group should be forced to subsidize the lifestyle of the 1st.

        1. Not to mention the living wage argument. How much did mom and pa pay their employees? Did mom and pa provide health and dental benes, paid vacations and 401(k) plans?

          The bottom line, once again, is that progs don’t care about poor people, they just use them to promote their agenda, which in this case is trying to punish/demonize a non-union shop.

        2. There is also the myth that ‘mom and pop’ stores sold better goods.

          As a boomer, I saw many of the old mom-and-pop groceries before they went out of business. The produce selection was about 10 vegetables, which lingered on the shelf long after they had begun to wilt. The meat was disgusting and the packaged goods lingered so long that you could sometimes see three different package designs for the same product in the same size.

          1. Or you’d see two different product packages with two different sizes, giving away the game of how the big brands much prefer to tweak the size of an item, rather than the price.

            1. I recently noticed that Purdue went from 5 thighs in a packed to 4. What I didn’t note, though was if the price per pound changed. Wish I had.

              1. It’s a strategy that was probably developed somewhere between the taming of fire and the domestication of the wolf. And it works just as well today as it did back then.

          2. If you have lived in a small town, you’ll notice something else about “mom and pop” stores, too: they keep hours when they like, but not when it’s convenient for their customers. You can’t have a day job outside the home, and still be a good little proggie and buy all of your stuff at small, local retailers.

            Sorry, suckers, but if you’re only gonna be open from 10-5 on weekdays, guess what: I work those hours, far away from your shop. If the only customer base you want to serve is retired old farts and stay-home mommies, because you want to keep banker’s hours, then I guess you can stop bitching about how Walmart is driving you out of business, because hint hint, it’s not Walmart, it’s you.

        3. I agree with your comments, but am amused that the first sentence was the thing you took from my post, as opposed to the idea that a small business (my uncle’s) could adapt and compete.

          I do agree, though, I don’t understand the idea that many progressives would rather cut of your arm, than allow you to shop at a big box store (unless it’s their darling, Costco).

    3. On an old Star Trek episode there was a gigantic creature that could make itself appear to be anything you desired. When your starship approached the beast it swallowed the ship whole. Walmart swallows entire communities by pretending to be something people want – jobs, low prices.

      If only we could devise an incredibly complex pseudo-scientific scheme that could be summed up using a grossly over-simplified analogy!

  7. “It’s a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class,”

    How much of this is willful ignorance and how much simply knowing who butters his bread? This would be a galling statement from the progressive ignorati, but from an educated man who surely must be aware of the fed’s historical and very recent meddling in healthcare, this statement is breathtakingly simplistic.

    1. Yeah, the old trifecta (true ignorance, willful ignorance, evil) is always at play with the trollops.

      It could be that he wants it both ways too – gov’t healthcare and all businesses must provide healthcare. Oddly, it seems most of these dolts want both.

      Hmm. Aren’t these the same guys who want extra math classes in schools? They could be used as examples of why math is an important subject…if you’re not good at basic math, you end up like a moronic NYT columnist.

      “5+5=rainbow oppression star! 17-2=14,567! Math ares goude!”

      1. Businesses shouldn’t be in the business of providing healthcare! Therefore let’s game the system to incentivize employers providing health benefits, and then legislate that practice into law.

        The brilliance, it is blinding.

        1. Yar! (Lipiratarian “yes”.) I they weren’t so stupid, I’d think the were evil. Or is it if they weren’t so evil, I’d think they were stupid?

  8. Scott- FYI, the links are at the bottom of the page.

  9. Munch’s The Scream is a portrait of Tim Egan.

    What a useless shrieking terrorstricken ninny.

  10. By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans.

    In the ’80s, Walmart was on the bleeding edge of inventory management information systems. A lot of companies emulated them, and efficiency increased.

    Another blot on Walmart’s record.

  11. I love Wal-mart. I always stop there to stock up on pork rinds and ammo on my way to the Traktor Pullz.

  12. I used to love WM but their stores have worsened over time. Prices aren’t that good and the stores are a mess. Half-stocked abandoned, stuff I need isn’t there. The Real Canadian SuperStore kicks its ass.

    1. They vary wildly. Some are ghetto walmarts, some are fantastic temples to all that is free markets. The walmart in Calexico, CA just across the Mexican border was immaculate and massive, containing just about everything. The walmart in Natomas, CA, a slummy suburb of Sacramento was an unholy atrocity with some aisles rendered impassable due to the piles of product strewn around.

    2. ^This. Some stuff is cheaper, but there are often competitive prices elsewhere. Not that I’ve been to more than a few Walmarts, but they do seem to be messy and fairly understaffed.

  13. I think it’s interesting how the progs often leave out the major reason for Walmart’s lower prices. It’s because they own their own distribution, packaging, and delivery. It’s not because of “LOWWAGES!” The same junk from China they sell is cheaper at Walmart because they don’t use third-parties for some of their stuff.

    Could Walmart employees be paid more? Sure. But that’s not the main reason Walmart competes.

    Also, I worked for Walmart in 2005. I remember they followed labor laws to the letter. I also started at 8.50 an hour (when minimum wage in Michigan was 6.15, I think) as “sales associate” and that was because I’d worked at another job for 2+ years. They even said that at the interview when I was hired. Plus, we had the discount for non-food items. Plus, over the 4.5 months I worked there, I got trained and certed for forklift and ladder lift too.

    1. I’ve spoken with many Walmart employees, and oddly none of them felt oppressed.

      1. It’s pretty rare. I’ve spoken to a couple people who worked at grossly mismanaged Walmarts, but that’s about it as far as negativity goes.

        And heh, half the reason I like working there was the cache of saying I worked for an evil empire. I was in college at the time.

  14. Wow, what a childish article. Hard to believe this is what the NY Times has been reduced to publishing. There was a time when I used to look forward to reading through the Sunday Times.

    I think my fav line was that Republicans want to “defund healthcare”. WTF does that even mean? Or maybe my favorite line was about how companies should provide “free” college to all of its employees.

    Great point by Shackford about the price and quality of TVs vs that of education and health care. Think about how little effort it takes in this country to be able to afford a flat screen TV, cell phone and PC, and how much work and innovation went into producing those products.
    You could probably get a tonsillectomy at Walmart for $99.95 if the Feds would get out of the way.

    1. “Healthcare” means “medical care paid for by a third party”. That should help clarify things. That is one of the slimier linguistic moves in recent years. “Access to healthcare” means you never have to pay for any medical care out of pocket. I would have thought that it meant that if you have the money to pay, you can get the care you want.

  15. Kind of on topic: Why Uber should make crony capitalists and their regulatory partners very afraid. Does not mention Lyft but it is still a good article. This part got me VERY excited:

    And then there’s Uber’s not-so-secret weapon: An army of loyal customers that can easily be marshaled by email, Facebook, and Twitter to tell politicians: “Hands off my Uber!” When it comes to dealing with politicians, “Consumers are our best advocates,” says Holt. “[They are] frustrated and outraged by the behavior of certain officials.” In Washington, D.C., online consumer protests led an anti-Uber bill to be pulled less than 24 hours after it was introduced.

    Imagine: private political armies of pro-capitalists. What if this is only the beginning?

    Bonus statist butthurt in the comments: Uber is an offshore private corporation that is breaking more laws and is dodging more court orders that ANY business I ever heard off, perhaps besides Enron.
    The rise and fall of the tax-evading offshore opportunistic Enron of public transportation will be equally spectacular.

    Go ahead. Hold your breath.…..with-fear/

    1. This is hopeful good news. I mean, people like Reid will just make things like Uber illegal…

      But while the gov still relies on the free market for their gold, they’ll probably have to stay away. Uber and other popular services are too well-known by a lot of people for it to be propagandized against.

      At this point, it’d by like the gov making organic wholesalers illegal.

      However, the upside would be such grand dissatisfaction with the gov that changes may actually happen…

    2. Enron? That green energy company, that proto-Solyndra?


  16. Further, you should not begin a sentence with “And”.

  17. Democrats: The Free Shit Party

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.