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.