Retail

Bernie Sanders Vs. Walmart

Well, it had to happen eventually, there is only so much railing about the evils of Wall Street any one man can do in a day – even if that man is Bernie Sanders.

And so, this weekend, Sanders took a break from the evils of Wall Street to talk about the evils of Bentonville, Arkansas, and the biggest business it ever birthed: Walmart.

At an event in Manchester Friday, the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate specifically called out the Walton family (the descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton), accusing Walmart of relying on corporate welfare in the form of Medicare and housing subsidies when it ought to be paying its workers better. 

“A rigged economy,” Sanders declared, “is when the middle class pays to subsidize the wealthiest family in this country.”

Walmart’s direction of revenue, particularly toward the Waltons and other shareholders, plays well to Sanders’ message.

However, Walmart’s lower wages are also an outcome of its intense dedication to low prices for goods — the same pressure that drives Walmart to cut very tough deals with their suppliers and hyper-efficient inventory management and delivery.

And consumers, who choose Walmart for its low prices, might be less likely to keep feeling the loyal love if they started paying more, even if they knew the reason they were paying more was that workers were making more money.

Moreover, many ethical purists won’t shop in a Walmart, yet cheerfully shop on Amazon all the time, despite reports that working at Amazon at any level of the firm is a basically dystopian experience. On the other hand, Amazon’s workers have been measured as five times more efficient than Walmart’s employees.

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