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Protesters with signs saying "Walmart wages hurt America"
Walmart can easily afford to raise pay for its low-wage workers by $5.83 an hour, to an average wage of $14.89, a new report from progressive think tank Demos concludes. All the retail giant has to do is stop its massive stock buybacks—which only serve to enrich a shrinking pool of shareholders, not to improve productivity—and put that money toward its workers.

Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back shares of its own stock:

... which reduces the number of shares traded on the market so that the same level of earnings are distributed over fewer owners, making each remaining share worth more. Those owners who keep their stake in the company see the value of their holdings increase even if the company’s performance does not change.
The main owners who have kept their own stake in the company are the Walton family, who now own more than 50 percent of the company. If you're of the "companies should only care about their shareholders" school of thought that's driving the race to the bottom on wages and jobs, consider this:
Even for investors, the intended beneficiaries of a share buyback, the value of this financial maneuver is often illusory. As a prominent business analyst explained to the Wall Street Journal last year, "the evidence overwhelmingly shows that heavy buyback companies usually create less value for shareholders over time… Many managements have become so infatuated with how buybacks increase earnings per share that these distributions are crowding out sound business investments that create more value over time."
Paying workers more or adding worker hours would be a sound business investment for Walmart by reducing worker turnover, which is predictably very high. Or by fixing the problems with bare shelves that have left many customers unhappy. Or by turning the very large Walmart workforce from people who need food donations and government assistance into people who make a living wage and can afford to shop at Walmart.

(Via Salon)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:34 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Of course they could, but as your diary points out (41+ / 0-)

    it would interfere with profit-taking--largely artificial profit-taking.

    As your diary points out, what they are doing is very short-sighted, and assumes an endless supply of disposable, low-wage workers. Eventually, their contempt for labor and lack of forward investment is going to catch up with them and their shareholders. My suspicion is nothing will change until their practices begin to deliver diminishing returns.

    A sensible thing to do would be to make a long-term investment in its "human capital" (I detest that term but it's the one these guys like to use) and quit treating workers as disposable and start paying them properly and with a view toward retention. In the long run, it would increase productivity and innovation in the company.

    But we live in the second Gilded Age and in an age of artificial profits and obtuse financial instruments. When it really implodes it will make the Great Recession of recent years look like a minor dip, and Occupy Wall Street look like a block party.

    •  Share buy backs aren't an expense (8+ / 0-)

      You can compare share buy backs with increased wages for Walmart workers in terms of cash, but increased wages are an expense that hits the P&L and under GAAP share buy backs aren't an expense. If Walmart allocated $7.6 billion a year to increasing wages it's earnings per share and stock price would plummet. The share buy back increases earnings per share (at least in the short term) and helps keep the share price stable. It's not a surprise which path the board of Walmart follows.

       If Walmart wasn't spending so much on share buy backs it wouldn't use the cash to increase the wages of US workers but instead would use the cash to open more Walmart stores outside the US.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:23:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is the problem with arguments like the one (7+ / 0-)

        made in the study attached.  It's a simplistic "Hey, I see this number of dollars somewhere that goes to X, those dollars should go to Y!"  As I said below, for anyone who understands business, it's wholly unpersuasive.  

        The minimum wage needs to go up to $9 or maybe $10 an hour as some Democrats and the President have said, and that kind of an increase is feasible because it would likely have a small effect on unemployment levels.  

        Beyond that, this country needs to focus on generating the kinds of jobs that justify wages above the minimum wage -- skilled jobs -- and provide people like the Wal-Mart workers the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to compete for those higher paying jobs.  In my opinion, that is the best way to help people like the Wal-Mart workers:  generate more skilled jobs that justify higher wages (higher than minimum wage, wherever that is), and give people the opportunity to gain the skills necessary for those jobs.

        •  How to generate skilled jobs? (8+ / 0-)

          When many skilled workers are already unemployed?

          Like it or not, our economy is largely dependent on consumer spending - by consumers of all income levels.  

          If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:55:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We need to change our tax policy so imports (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, commonmass

            get the same US tax burden as US made goods.  

            We also need to change business and investor taxation so those investments most likely to employ US workers are no longer by far the most heavily taxed.

            The marginal tax and benefit reduction rates for low income workers need to be dramatically reduced, ACA has the unfortunate effect of making this worse.  Making higher pay work for low wage employees is very important for growth and higher employment.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:35:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lotlizard

              While our government's unwillingness to do something to replace the jobs sent overseas is a significant problem.  Another countries willingness to ship the productivity of its workers and raw materials to our country for our enjoyment instead of keeping that productivity and materials in country to improve the standard of living of their people is not really a problem for the US, if we took the steps to make it not a problem. It is actually increasing real wealth in the U.S. in exchange for financial wealth (aka dollars aka numbers in a computer) in the U.S.  If the U.S. government took the position of directly employing the unemployed U.S. worker to create infrastructure, research, and arts in the U.S.  we would benefit from not only the full productive and raw material capacity of the U.S., but also the shortsighted export of productivity and materials from other countries.

              That is of course from a purely economic perspective.  There is also the moral perspective.  We should be concerned with the standard of living in other countries and how their people are exporting their productivity and materials out of the country instead of using them to improve their own lives.  The environmental perspective.  The production in other countries often has steep environmental consequences. On the flip side, investment of US productivity into sustainable energy and environmental protection and clean up could have impressive results.  The happiness perspective.  We should employ everyone, but let's work less and play, think, socialize more.

              •  But there is a net loss to the US when we (0+ / 0-)

                lose jobs due to bad tax policy.

                Individuals have lower incomes, and government gets less tax revenue, while demand for social spending to help the unemployed from the job destroying tax policy goes up - while we also get various social problems from the high employment and increase income inequality.

                Was you comment trying to be ironic - but I missed it?

                The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                by nextstep on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:07:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's the standard "serious" economic argument. (0+ / 0-)

                  Can't speak for Donner, but that's how The Economist always explained it (years and years ago, before I cancelled my subscription to The Economist in disgust).

                  The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

                  by lotlizard on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:48:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You missed the key point... (0+ / 0-)

                  Not ironic, but there is a whole bunch behind the comment that I did not describe.

                  The key is the government needs to put the people to work.  If that were done exports would not be a problem because people would be working.

                  You also suffer from the neo-liberal (economics not politics) postulate that taxes and borrowing constrain spending.  Tax revenue is not a constraint on government spending in a country that is sovereign in its currency and the government is the sole issuer of the currency.  If you consider it from the point of view that taxes destroys dollars and spending creates dollars then deficits are simply the net number of dollars spent into the private sector economy by the government in the history of the country (minus some trivial amount of precious metal in comparison to the total amount)  in exchange for the actual goods and services needed for the public good.  Also, think of government bonds as interest bearing dollars.  So, the deficit is the net financial wealth of the private sector.

                  So, in that world the main thing preventing full employment is the willingness of our political class to create those jobs.  The limit for deficits is inflation caused by the economy reaching capacity.   This is why in my opinion public job creation should be focused on the things that are productive by either creating things for direct consumption, arts, parks, museums, etc.. Or, creating things that bolster productivity like infrastructure, clean energy, etc...  Thus deferring demand pull inflation because things to spend the extra deficit spending on will be available. Finally, if inflation continues to be a threat the net dollars injected into the economy can be reduced via taxes.

                  I  give Abba Lerner's (a Keynesian) rules of functional finance that our government is ignoring due to ignorance or cruelty.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                  Lerner postulated that government's fiscal policy should be governed by three rules:[1]

                  1)    The government shall maintain a reasonable level of demand at all times. If there is too little spending and, thus, excessive unemployment, the government shall reduce taxes or increase its own spending. If there is too much spending, the government shall prevent inflation by reducing its own expenditures or by increasing taxes.
                  2)    By borrowing money when it wishes to raise the rate of interest and by lending money or repaying debt when it wishes to lower the rate of interest, the government shall maintain that rate of interest that induces the optimum amount of investment.
                  3)    If either of the first two rules conflicts with principles of 'sound finance' or of balancing the budget, or of limiting the national debt, so much the worse for these principles. The government press shall print any money that may be needed to carry out rules 1 and 2.

                  So, this is not the standard "serious" aka neoliberal economic argument described by lotlizard.  The standard neoliberal argument ignores the point of actually putting the people displaced by a trade deficit to work at decent wages. Instead they blather about retraining for the new jobs that don't exist because they also advocate austerity, or some other horse crap. What they really mean is to keep unemployment high so the oligarchs can keep wages low and skim as much labor as possible.
                  •  Your analysis falls far outside consensus economic (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    coffeetalk

                    thought.  I say that as a professional economist.  I am not going to go into a point by point discussion.

                    You rely upon a MMT approach, an approach not spoken well of by any Nobel winner economist.  And spoken badly against by Krugman and other winners.  No country's central banker takes this approach or takes MMT seriously.  BTW, I meet several central bankers from other countries and board governors each year.

                    MMT is further outside the consensus of economic thought amoung professional economists and central bankers than those who argue against climate change are in the professional climate science community.

                    If you disagree with the above, please provide links to examples of Nobel winners in Economics clearly supporting MMT.

                    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                    by nextstep on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:05:28 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, it is out of the mainstream... (6+ / 0-)

                      Yes, MMT is heterodox.

                      Nobel Prizes are not really suitable for support or non-support of out of the mains stream thinking due to the main stream being the ones who decide who gets the prize.  Proof by authority is not a great way to go either.  But, proof by non-authority does not work either, so don't take it the wrong way, I am open mined and have been through a basic economics education (a minor of sorts in college).

                      And, heterodox economists do have faculty positions, but so do neoliberal economists, so that doesn't say much.

                      Krugman has bought into some MMT points.  Like the US cannot be forced to default by "bond vigilantes".  I would have to go searching for the quote.

                      Also, I don't think MMT/chartalism is that different from Keynesian economics which worked for 50 years.  Current neoliberal mainstream economics is the abject failure that has come to roost all over the world.

                      The main thing I take from MMT is its description of what policies are choices and which are real constraints.  It allows people to have the right conversations.  We can have arguments about whether we should require taxing and borrowing in order to spend or should skip the borrowing and just keystroke the currency to cover a deficit or something in between.  Neoliberal economists will argue about hyperinflation, MMT economists will say inflation is a result of trying to purchase in excess of production.  I think the latter is more consistent with history and even mainstream economic principles rather than ideology.  I conclude we don't worry about deficits until we see the demand pull inflation.

                      The combination of all this and my own thoughts has led me to a conclusion that our entire economy is on the wrong track and that massive effort needs to be made to change what we call progress and economic growth.  It is related to the idea of the happiness index.  It is probably much longer than I can write here, but the basics are that we can make stuff with less labor today than ever before. If we took care of the jobs problem, I think we would run into a raw materials problem leading to commodity driven inflation.  In addition, environmental harm would also probably become a problem.  The thing is once food, shelter, clothing and some other things are taken care of, what do people really want.  I think time and activities to do in that time.  So, in my opinion to employ everyone and actually make the world better without causing environmental harm, we need to have a leisure and knowledge economy.  So, first would be to shorten the work week and make overtime more of a global thing to discourage reclassifying people.  Government spending for employment should focus on green energy because there is lots of solar and geothermal energy, we just need to use it.   Also, research like NASA, NIH, NSF, etc... Giant telescopes and particle colliders would be a personal favorite.  NASA might be a good place to put funds to move aerospace contractors out of defense and into something useful and avoid the job disruption that would cause. Infrastructure like roads, bridges, public transit, and long distance public transit because people with free time will want to go places.   Funding for the arts, parks, museums, trails, etc... would be good to provide more things to do.  I am sure there would be plenty of private sector expansion of leisure services.  In my opinion these things are less resource intensive than making more things to buy, and probably provide more happiness.

                      Then, via the US consuming less resources for making stuff, maybe the US can stop monopolizing resources that the rest of the world might need and want and perhaps get out of the empire business.

                      Ok, that is enough. I will probably get knocked down as an amateur economist.  I am Ok with that.  It is a complex system with many feedback loops both positive and negative.  There are numerous strings in the complex web that can be pulled with a variety of consequences, so suggest another string to pull that puts people to work and we (national we, not just you and me) can discuss the consequences.

              •  Donner - I read you comment a few times (0+ / 0-)

                but must admit I have no idea what you are trying to communicate.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:51:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  nextstep - I totally agree (0+ / 0-)

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:49:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Could you explain this (10+ / 0-)

          language "justify wages above the minimum wage"? The justification that these workers are being exploited is obvious,check out the value of their work that has been stolen by the Walton family.
          But larger still,when you start assigning such low recompense to someone else's time,and labor and life than you are certainly not standing with this guy.

          "Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless." -- Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron for the G8 Meeting, June 17-18 from Pope Francis

          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

          by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:01:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's the issue. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, VClib
            check out the value of their work that has been stolen by the Walton family.
            What do you mean by "the value of their work"?  As a sort of "moral" matter, we all set "value" on certain work, and can set it any way we want, but that's not what the economy does. I think a local police officer has more value that an outrageously tall man with a talent for throwing a ball through a hoop, for example.  And that's my right.

            However, when you are talking about economic value, that's set by people who are willing to pay for something, and by how much they are willing to pay.  So, because a lot of people are willing to pay to see outrageously tall men throw orange balls through hoops, and because a particular outrageously tall man can generate for others a lot of money doing that, somebody is willing to pay him zillions of dollars, because he generates profits -- more money -- for the person paying him.  

            So, in the labor market, the economic value of a job is whether that job generates profits for the person paying for that job.  And it's a balance -- what do I need to pay for someone to get the skills I need, what can I charge someone else for the results of those skills, and how much do I pay for the right balance?

            And let me say it again:  I support an increase in the minimum wage.  But people here are completely unrealistic in talking about $15 an hour.  Cannot happen without massive disruption in employment levels and prices.  (At that level, a married couple making minimum wage would be in the top half of all households immediately -- which means that all other wages would have to go up a commensurate amount, which means huge price increases . . . . )  Minimum wage is always going to be about enough to support a single person, and not much more.  Thoughts of minimum wage jobs being enough to "support a family of four" are not realistic.

            •  So,then,minimum wage to support a single needs to (8+ / 0-)

              be ???? 40hrs. a week,$15 an hour = $31,200. Just a bit more than needed for a single to not get a government subsidy to pay for health insurance. Sounds about right.  

              "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

              by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:55:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  $15 is completely unrealistic (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, VClib

                The studies cited by those who support minimum wage increases show that MODEST increases to the minimum wage, resulting in SMALL cost increases to employers, have only a small effect on unemployment levels.  See here.

                And even that conclusion is disputed, of course.  

                There's no one out there (at least no economist with any data to back him or her up) who thinks you can double the minimum wage without a significant downturn in employment in those jobs.  

                At that level, fast food franchises -- which operate on maybe 3 - 6% margins -- can't be profitable.  At that level, we're going to see ordering and checkout at those places all automated.

                •  We might see fast food joints (7+ / 0-)

                  automate,depends on the cost. Somehow Australia still has McD's with a $16 minimum wage and France has 'em even with high taxes & excellent healthcare. Kinda like roaches they are.

                  "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                  by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:13:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Completely inadequate comparison (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk, VClib

                    Tell me what percentage of their overall cost is labor, what each employee costs the employer in terms of overall employee expense, what are the investment costs, what other costs figure into opening and operating a restaurant (including the tax structure, other operating expenses, and regulatory expenses), the prices that people in those areas are willing to pay for fast food items, and how all those things compare to the U.S. Then we can talk.  

                    I always kind of laugh when people say, "But Australia!" as if that answers all questions.  

                    •  Keep laughing & be happy. (6+ / 0-)

                      The world is waking up,yes even here in the USA.

                      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                      by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:21:51 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  So until all of your questions are answered (5+ / 0-)

                      to your satisfaction, is it preferable that American workers be kept in wage penury? From the point of social justice, I'd rather cut straight through all the capitalist apologias and ask instead "Why is it that the US will not pay its workers a living wage?"

                      Maybe once that question is answered honestly, things can actually begin to change.

                      •  No, until those questions are answered, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        VClib

                        it is illegitimate to use the "they do it in Australia" argument to support the notion that a business could do it here and maintain its profitability level.  

                        As I've said a zillion times, I support a minimum wage increase.  

                      •  Spron - plus the fast food industry is complex (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Sparhawk

                        because most of it uses a franchise model so the local McD's isn't owned by McDonalds but rather a small business owner. If we want to see wages raised by the local McD's we need to understand, in detail, the cost structure of the local franchise owner (who is the employer) not just the parent corporation.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:31:35 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Maybe the franchisee paid too much (0+ / 0-)

                          for his McD. Still not a reason to exploit his workers. Or taxpayers who never buy his product.
                          You may have seen this piece by Barry Ritholtz?
                          http://www.bloomberg.com/...

                          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                          by tardis10 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:45:32 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The franchisee can't change the franchise (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            agreement so he has to deal with his employees based on the specific economics of his business. Is it better to put the franchise owner out of business?

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:56:45 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Quite possibly,yes. (0+ / 0-)

                            In fact,as I consider layer after layer of this complex picture specifically regarding McDonald's,I'll go likely yes.

                            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                            by tardis10 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:21:36 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  When we start putting local franchise owners out (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            business there will be a very negative political backlash at both the local and federal level. The franchise model makes these issues much more complex. I don't think that modest increases in the minimum wage, even in annual increments, won't impact fast food too badly because all the fast food competitors will just modestly raise prices to allow their franchisees to stay in business.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:40:03 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Negative political backlash (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            from whom,exactly? The poor,downtrodden franchisee & their army of lobbyists?

                            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                            by tardis10 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:05:33 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Franchisees who are local small business owners, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            sponsors of Little League teams, and lots of local visibility. It would be naive to think there would not be a media and political backlash if new minimum wage laws start putting them out of business. Political support for a higher minimum wage depends on the belief that increases in the minimum wage don't have a negative impact on local economies. If fast food franchise locations start to close, it will be a visible reminder of a negative impact.

                            "let's talk about that"

                            by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:45:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Support for raising the minimum (0+ / 0-)

                            wage rests across varied interest groups. Including some small businesses and entrepreneurs. Are McD franchisee owners so beloved that the citizens will rise in revolt to protect them from having to pay a better wage? Really,that is what you see playing out? I do not. I see most franchisees swallowing the raise & likely profiting less; franchisees litigating better terms with corporate McD; some franchisees selling their biz,possibly at a loss, to a more hands-on maker type owner. And since I firmly believe in a wage led earth  http://www.social-europe.eu/... I don't see demand decreasing. Just the fruits of that demand being more equitably distributed.
                            Read Ritholtz's essay again.Then ask a neighbor or two how they feel about how everyone's taxes subsidize Walmart and McD so that their owners get richer. Check out Colbert or Stewart. Sure,there has ever been socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor but right now,the tide of public opinion is turning. And the loss of a McD and the full page ad they put in the HS yearbook isn't going to stop it.

                            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                            by tardis10 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:49:20 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            They won't have jobs anymore.

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:15:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  It's "Unrealistic"? Or just not beneficial to (6+ / 0-)

                  you financially?

                  "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

                  by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:44:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Unrealistic because (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib

                    It would likely significantly decrease the minimum wage jobs out there.  See the study I linked to elsewhere, the one most often cited by supporters of the minimum wage increase, which says that modest increases to the minimum wage, that don't have a lot of cost to employers, cause a small effect on employment levels.  

                    I don't know any economist who doesn't recognize that doubling the minimum wage would certainly mean a significant loss of jobs.  

                    You'd be trading higher wages for some with loss of jobs for others.  

                    That's an unintended consequence.

                •  LOL (7+ / 0-)

                  Australia has twice the minimum wage as the US and Big Macs cost roughly the same.

                  "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

                  by smiley7 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:17:50 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's interesting! You mean some people will (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    smiley7, Tonedevil, caul

                    actually, for whatever reason, accept lower profits!?? Wow, didn't know such creatures existed.... heh.

                    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                    by Gorette on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:09:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Sharp changes in labor costs (0+ / 0-)

              across the board would be problematic.  Large and broad increases in the minimum wage would need to be gradual (say $1/hr/year).  That doesn't mean that there aren't industries and locales where such a sharp increase is feasible.  Walmart is one such company.

              •  No, you can't do company by company. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                because they are competitors.  

                You'd have to go by industry, so you treat all competitors the same.  And I can't see a minimum wage increase just for the retail sales industry.  

                •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  caul

                  I wasn't suggesting a national bill targetting (pun intended) Wal-Mart but it is technically possible.  

                  •  If such a bill specifically targeted... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...Walmart, wouldn't it likely run afoul of Art. I § 9 Cl. 3 of the United States Constitution?

                    No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
                    It almost certainly could be crafted to cast a wider net and avoid the Bill of Attainder problem, but then it would impact other companies.
                    •  Bill of attainder (0+ / 0-)

                      You don't name Wal-MArt, you simply write the bill as applying only to companies which meet certain criteria.  Walmart is an outlier, so it would be easy to single them out.

                      •  Although... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...if one crafts the bill too narrowly to clearly target Walmart only, it seems like courts may still view it as a Bill of Attainder. I've no idea the extent to which this has been tested in the courts.

                        If crafted narrowly to catch just Walmart (perhaps, for example, by limiting it to retail companies with over one bazillion in revenues), Walmart may be able to find a way around it. For example, perhaps they could spin off separate companies. Perhaps one for warehousing, one for distribution, one for marketing, and several "per region" retail operations companies - each bound by perpetual "franchising" agreements with the others but each an independent corporate entity. Then, owners of each Walmart share might end up owning a "new" Walmart share (now less expensive) and shares in WM1, WM2, WM3, WMRA, WMRB, WMRC, and WMRD. Then, of course, some financial firm would create an ETF that would allow an investor to invest in a basket of stocks that are identical to the original Walmart shares.

        •  We don't need to "justify" what is skilled work. (11+ / 0-)

          The "lower tier" of wages already keep "skilled" workers earning substandard pay.

          What most people don't seem to understand, is the minimum wage in the bedrock of all wages beyond - up to the highly skilled.

          The $25 per hour skilled worker would make half that if the minimum was half - ask any skilled tradesman who earns about what his father did - 30 years ago.

          “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

          by RUNDOWN on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:31:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I can agree (7+ / 0-)

          that the argumentation is problematic, and that generating better jobs is a needed focus, and that the kind of fiddling at the margins that a below market increase in the minimum wage involves would help people without imposing significant costs in the form of either business competitiveness or higher unemployment.

          That's about the point where we part ways.  The scarcity of labor is not a sufficient measure for its valuation.  Even unskilled work should pay a living wage, so long as its production exceeds its cost.  Productivity gains need to be shared with labor, whether we do that by statute or by collective bargaining.

          •  Morally, or economically? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, nextstep, VClib
            The scarcity of labor is not a sufficient measure for its valuation.  
            We each can value labor any way we want as a moral matter. As an economic matter, in a capitalist economy, yes, the scarcity of labor IS  a significant factor in its valuation.  It's not the only factor, but it is a significant one.  Example:  I'm a lawyer in a law firm in downtown New Orleans.  After the Army Corps of Engineers Disaster (what some call "Katrina"), lots of people who worked as legal secretaries did not return to this city.  Salaries for legal secretaries shot up dramatically.  That's one example of "scarcity" directly and dramatically affecting "value."  

            As an economic matter, in a capitalist economy, the market sets the value of labor.  Our government sets only a minimum value through the minimum wage, and that minimum value is necessarily only going to apply to those jobs that the market values at the low end of the economic rung.  If you raise that minimum wage too much above where the market values that particular job, and the job means payment higher than the employer values that job in terms of how much profit he can make from that employee, then you are going to have fewer of those kinds of jobs.  

            •  Demand for that service determines the value (8+ / 0-)

              More people with more money to spend increases that demand - thereby raising the market value.

              It's not the employer who decides - it is the customers with money to spend.

              No customers with money - no business - no employer.

              “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

              by RUNDOWN on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:49:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, of course (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, caul

              Scarcity of labor is the primary determinant of its cost.  That's basic supply and demand (which does not explain all aspects of supply and demand).  My point is that it cannot be allowed to be the ONLY determinant, given the marked difference in market power between individuals and large employers, else wages will be forced to subsistence (as is happening).  This has negative macro effects, particularly in an economy based largely on consumption.  

              A minimum wage at the level we have today, is a regulatory minimum (set below the competitive market wage for an unskilled (but literate and able-bodied) adult in a well-functioning full employment economy) which serves chiefly to protect naive market participants from accepting an even lower wage.  A small increase in such a wage is pretty close to a free lunch.  A minimum wage which is more economically binding will have increasing costs as well as increasing benefits.  

               

              •  In case I wasn't clear (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil, caul

                Having costs, as well as benefits, does not imply net costs.  Given the state of inequality, i support a modestly binding minimum wage which is indexed at 50% of the median wage after a smooth progression to that level.

                One of the macro benefits (in the present economy) of smoothly increasing labor costs for a time is inflationary pressure, which would increase monetary policy efficacy.

        •  "maybe ten". Can you describe for me what (5+ / 0-)

          it was like the last time you lived on 10 bucks an hour?

          Hell, can you tell me who was President back then?

          Speaking on behalf of someone who is actually part of the working class, most of us will readily trade lower employment levels for much higher wages.

          In fact, we'd be thrilled to make that trade.  Working two jobs to make what we ought to make from one isn't such a fucking treat at the end of the day.

          "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:43:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure. I lived on less than $10/hr a few yrs ago. (0+ / 0-)

            I think $9 or $10 would be an excellent minimum wage. It's foolish to try raising it more than that.

            I graduated college in 2001 and could only find work through a temp agency. I was making $14/hr to be an office assistant at a security company and I was bored out of my mind.

            After 9/11, when the airports were shutdown and our workers couldn't work on the security cameras there, I quit and got a job at Borders for $6.50 (above minimum wage). I was much happier working there, even though I had to live in my mom's basement and lived paycheck to paycheck. When I quit Borders in 2007 I was making $7.50. Everyone I worked with had at least one college degree - some of them had graduate degrees.

            I worked from home for a while, then when the economy tanked in 2008, I got a job at Starbucks for about $8/hr (in Chicago). I very quickly ran out of money to sustain living in Chicago by myself and moved back to Kansas City and finally got a "real job" using my degree.

            I worked hourly, near minimum wage jobs for years. It sucks because you do live paycheck to paycheck, but it isn't impossible. I rented nice apartments, I had cable and internet, I went out to dinner and took long vacations. The benefits offered by Borders and Starbucks were fantastic. ($80/mo for great insurance, 401K, stock options). I would have loved to have made $10/hr starting out and have gotten raises or tips that took me up to about $12/hr. That would have made it easy to keep that job for a long time. But you shouldn't have those jobs for a long time, unless you're in school for 4 years or you are working your way up the chain of management to a salaried position.

            Most of the people I worked with, though "overqualified" for a minimum wage job, were not supporting other people. They were students, they were single or without kids, they were older people past retirement age who wanted or needed to go back to work part-time. The only person I worked with who was a single mother and raising 2 teenagers actually worked THREE full-time hourly wage jobs. She would open Wendy's in the morning as a manager, come to Borders to work during the day, and then stock overnight at Target, getting about 3hrs of sleep each night. I did not envy her at all, but she was also taking online classes so that she could eventually get a better job. $10/hr at one of her minimum wage jobs would mean she could probably quit one of them. $10/hr is still a GOOD WAGE for these jobs because they aren't meant to raise large families on an entry-level position. Either move up in the company or take classes to get a better-paying job. $10/hr would allow for that without making workers SO comfortable that they never move on.

        •  You just evaluated the entire stock market (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Tonedevil, caul

          More perception and accounting tricks, than real monetary or physical value.

          Wages are "real" money - stock valuations are nebulous determinations - often not based in reality (see any recent tech IPO).

          “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

          by RUNDOWN on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:44:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Minimum wage was not set on Mount Sinai (0+ / 0-)

          A job, any job, pays minimum wage not because of its intrinsic worth, but because minimum is what corporatistas can get away with paying.  There's no reason that a burger flipper HAS to be paid only the minimum.

          •  And... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Slicey

            ...if business owners can't get sufficiently skilled workers to meet their needs at minimum wage, they will pay more and/or increase automation to reduce the need for employees. If they are paying only minimum wage, it's an indication that the supply of qualified employees likely exceeds the demand.

            Personally, although I now rarely eat fast food, I have long wished they would replace about 50% of the workers behind the front counter at most fast food joints with automation. I'd rather order through a kiosk, or now, my phone. I could then order my "standard order" in one click -- and never forget to say "no onions" or fail to have my request correctly entered into the POS system. Really, much of the front counter time is wasted - there is no need for human interaction between the customer and the business in this case except if there is a problem. I should pick my order up from "Window 7" (reminiscent of an Amazon locker or a classic automat) which I'm directed to by the app on my phone and which unlocks in response to swiping my phone (NFC or bar code etc).

            •  They actually have automated McD's... (0+ / 0-)

              ..in other countries!

              I was in Germany (or Switzerland?) last year and they had automated menus at McD's.

              They were large kiosks - kind of like a Red Box machine with a giant touch screen of menu items. You selected your food, drink, sizes, etc. You could pay with a credit card right there.

              When your food was ready, you would be called to the counter to pick it up. They also had a few cashiers working if you didn't want to use the machines or if they were busy. Basically 5 lines for ordering, but only 2-3 cashiers on duty.

              That could easily be implemented in the U.S. In my opinion, fast food workers here are truly "unskilled." The level of competence (or should I say incompetence) is pretty scary.

              •  That's quite interesting. (0+ / 0-)

                I wonder why we (to my admittedly limited knowledge) not seen this more in the US.

                It could be in part because of consumers not being accepting of it in the US. However at the market, the self check lanes seem to get pretty good usage in my area and I would think those same people must eat some fast food and would similarly become quickly comfortable with kiosks and/or smart phone ordering in that setting.

                I wonder if it could be in part that European countries (including Germany and Switzerland both I believe) have more restrictive employment laws than the US (esp. with regard to terminating employees) which adds motivation to replace employees w/automation.

          •  and they aren't paid minimum wage... (0+ / 0-)

            Depending on location, most "minimum wage" jobs actually pay above minimum wage.

            I worked at a Bookstore and a coffeeshop and was paid over minimum wage at both places. Maybe because I had a college degree, maybe because I was more "qualified" than some of the other workers, I don't know.

            I do know that burger flippers earned more money than I did. In my suburb, a job at McD's earned $9-$11 starting out. A few bucks more than my bookstore or coffee jobs, but that's because no one wants to work at McD's.

            I chose to earn less to work at a "minimum-wage" job that was more challenging, and less fry cook stigma than working fast food.

      •  They're certainly not going to invest in workers (0+ / 0-)

        The MBAs of the world don't believe workers create value.

        They prefer cost-cutting to maximize profits, because that's easier than long-term investments.

      •  Maybe true (0+ / 0-)

        But another consequence of raising wages is that most of these employees shop at Walmart which would probably increase revenue mitigating the effect on eps.

        •  krm - unfortunately it wouldn't (0+ / 0-)

          The management of Walmart knows exactly how much of their payroll is returned in purchases by employees because the employees receive a discount and the register collects that information. Given the net margins at Walmart $1 of wages would need to generate about $4-$5 of sales to break even.  

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:41:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Artificial gilt at that (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, rebel ga, Tonedevil, caul

      Not much of a Gilded Age when everything from "product" to profit is manipulated.

    •  Yes, if the four heirs, among the top ten (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, rebel ga, Tonedevil, caul

      billionaires, were unable to increase their total worth at the same huge rates each year, what ever would they do?

      I mean, having 35.5B, or 33.3B last year.........that's not enough.

      Actually, they've increased their totals by about 10 Billion each. EACH. In the last few years.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:07:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also total mismanagement on the corporate and (0+ / 0-)

        store levels. walmart has gotten so big they can't police themselves.

        walmart needs a new managerial system. Hire people who know what they're actually doing and pay them enough to care.

        Pay a decent wage, and hire enough employees to assist customers. I can never find anyone to help me in wallmat and walk away buying less.

        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:42:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Walmart's target customer... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          ...is probably not you then. Walmart is a low customer service alternative, they are more Costco than Nordstrom in that respect. There is room for both - I personally have no desire to pay for "customer service" I don't need, want, or use.

    •  Rec'd And Tipped (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, commonmass, caul

      ♥Solidarity Walmart Workers♥ Widespread, Massive Strikes For Black Friday 2013

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:17:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly ♥Commonmass♥ (0+ / 0-)
      walmart  presumes that there is an endless supply of disposable, low-wage workers.
      But what if all their workers walk out on them? And it's against the law to fire them just for striking.

      ♥Solidarity Walmart Workers♥ Nationwide Massive Strikes For Black Friday November 29th 2013

      I won't cross a picket line! Even if my walmart store, isn't striking.

      I haven't been to walmart since this years strikes started.

      I only go to walmart a few times a year. Not this year though.

      (I Never get anywhere except to the supermarket. No car).

      I'm sick of all the junk walmart sells anyway.

      I need a few things but will go elsewhere.

      So it will cost a few dollars more. Will be better quality and walmart hasn't been that cheap the past couple of years.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:03:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Contrast with Costco (39+ / 0-)

    Costco apparently pays its people much better wages than Walmart and still manages to make a decent profit. Costco's turnover rate is far lower than Walmart's so Costco's training and recruiting costs are lower. I suspect that having happier employees has other benefits, too. I know that Costco has taken some heat from some Wall Street analysts for "overpaying" its employees, but fortunately the company's management seems to know better.

    I didn't mean to write a commercial for Costco - I shop there but have no other financial stake in the company - just to point out that one of Walmart's competitors proves that a large retailer does not have to pay starvation wages to make a reasonable profit.

    •  Everytime... (9+ / 0-)

      I hear of some Wall Street talking head going on about how some company needs to get its 'labor cost in line with the industry' - I automatically gravitate towards that stock and towards that product.

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

      by RichM on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:30:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  knutsondc - Walmart and Costco aren't (6+ / 0-)

      direct competitors. Walmart is a general retail merchandiser and in some locations also a grocery store. Costco is first a wholesaler with a much more limited selection of soft goods and small servings grocery items. I love how Costco treats its workers and shop there frequently. I don't shop at Walmart but there is little product overlap and the two don't directly compete. They also have very different business models and I don't think the success that Costco has had could be easily implemented at Walmart, with similar results.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:54:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Furthermore, Costco only meets the needs of a (4+ / 0-)

        certain group of consumers. If you're someone who can't use the strategy of buying in quantity (and a lot of us can't) then Costco really has nothing to offer.

        Costco is not an alternative to Walmart.

        "I don't love writing, but I love having written" ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

        by jan4insight on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:01:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jan4insight, Sparhawk, VClib

          I like Costco, but how many people really need a three gallon jar of mayo?

        •  Not quite true. (0+ / 0-)

          Sam's Club IS a direct competitor to Costco, and Sam's Club is owned by Walmart.

          A direct comparison between Walmart's Supercenters and Neighborhood Market stores and Costco may not be suitable, but that doesn't change the fact that Walmart underpays their associates grossly.

          •  Well...underpays AND overworks. (0+ / 0-)

            Also....the argument that the minimum wage isn't supposed to be a foundation for families is simply a red herring. The idea that people should take "unskilled" labor jobs at cheap wages merely to save up for education to move up to supposedly higher-wage jobs is a right-wing illusion that disappeared long ago, since it's far more profitable for corporations to force workers into long-term debt through student loans to pay for their "upward mobility".

            We have people who have been employed for nearly 5 - 10 years at businesses like Walmart who are still making less in wages in a year than a hedge fund manager can make in 10 minutes of stock market casino capitalism gambling. The real issue is not "skilled" versus "unskilled" labor; it's fair and just compensation for gross exploitation and abuse. If you can't pay your workers an adequate wage for their efforts to enrich your profits, you shouldn't be making a profit. Full stop.

            •  Employment is also Supply and Demand. (0+ / 0-)

              There are WAY too many unskilled, minimum wage workers in this country. It's pretty to think that employers should pay higher wages, but why should they? To feel good about themselves? Someone with better business sense will just come along, pay less, and have a better profit margin.

              There is zero incentive to pay workers more money, since there is an endless stream of people willing to work for that wage.

              I currently work at a call center. We pay about $10 starting out. We probably hire 30 people every week. We could pay them more, maybe turnover would be less, but why? We could pay people $14/hr, they would still probably quit after 6 months. The quality of worker you get for these jobs are not people who stick around, not people who want to move up in the company, and there are hundreds of people with high school diplomas lined up behind them willing to take a job for $10/hr.

              Just like there are hundreds of people applying for work at your local Wal-Mart, Target, McDonald's every week. There is no business reason to pay them more money, when someone else can do the same quality work for the same wage.

              If one of my employees is faster, gives better customer service, works harder, is on time every day, etc - then they deserve to earn more money than the worker next to them. If they don't meet expectations, then they don't deserve to have a job and the next person waiting in line gets a chance. But the fact is, most "unskilled" labor never proves that they deserve more money, and the labor pool is just too big to throw away profit on payroll expenses.

              I know that people work these jobs for years and raise families on them, but if they want to better themselves, they should take the initiative to take online classes or learn a trade. It's not possible for everyone, but it is possible to make it work if you have to live on those wages. My grandmother worked as a grocery store cashier for 30 years and raised 4 kids on her own. They never took government assistance. Not once. They made it work. Maybe high schools need to teach budgeting, maybe our culture needs to stop telling people they need big TVs, 400 channels, and new shoes every season. I don't know. But it isn't up to businesses to pay people more than what the market dictates their labor is worth.

      •  Costco is also membership based (5+ / 0-)

        though I'm not sure if that is purely a business model decision or something done to ensure compliance with various wholesale laws.

        I would say the closest thing to a Wal-Mart competitor would be things like Target... maybe the department stores like JC Penny or Sears but I doubt that is a direct comparison.

        In truth the biggest competitive threat to Walmart is going to be Amazon.  

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:02:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interestingly... (0+ / 0-)

          ...Costco's profits are about equal to what they pull in in membership fees.

          Although there are some costs to enticing/maintaining memberships, to a first approximation one can consider that the warehouses and all their sales/costs is just a break-even proposition and that all the profits are in membership fees.

      •  Wholesale is a small part of Costco's overall (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, VClib, caul

        business, although it's an important part of their image.

        I find it hard to believe you've been in both if you believe there's not heavy overlap in products offered.

        "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:56:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Costco competes (7+ / 0-)

        with Walmart's warehouse division, Sam's Club. The comparison still comes out in favor of Costco.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:00:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sam's Club and Costco (8+ / 0-)

        ARE direct competitors, and Costco pays much better.

    •  Not to rain on Costco's parade, (0+ / 0-)

      but it isn't exactly labor-friendly, in spite of paying its workers better.

      Out with the gloomage - in with the plumage!

      by mikidee on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:28:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Checkout at Wal-Mart. Checkout at Cost-Co. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      knutsondc, Tonedevil, caul

      Tell me how many items a minute the cashiers are scanning.

      Morale matters.

      "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:54:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe some one should tell HRC about Costco. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul

      As a member of Walmart's board of directors I'm sure she'd like to do something about this shameful situation (snark)

      Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

      by chuck utzman on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:19:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rent Seeking (15+ / 0-)

    I enjoyed seeing the part about "crowding out" in the article.  It seems to me that there's a lot to be said for learning the language of economic so that corporate management like at Walmart can be called out with the same language that they try to use against workers.

    The standard battle cry against labor on the part of  corporate types is that unions are rent seeking, aka they create no new wealth they just redistribute it.  

    What is this stock buyback scheme if not rent-seeking.  Starving the firm of needed investment shrinks revenue in the long term.  So this buyback scheme creates no new wealth, it just shifts it over into the hands of a shrinking pool of shareholders.  And, as I imagine that management compensation at Walmart includes a heavy dose of stock options, shifts income out of workers and shareholders hands into their own.  All the while making the firm less profitable.

    http://www.economicpopulist.org

    by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:06:11 AM PST

  •  I'm always surprised and disappointed... (14+ / 0-)

    ... when a current American company fails to heed the lesson taught by Henry Ford all those years ago, when he instituted the now-legendary $5 per day wage for his workers, more then DOUBLING the prevailing $2.34 /day wage level.

    History has shown that HIGHER wages paid to workers translates into MORE economic activity and growth.

    Sadly, the "nouveau American riche", those who comprise the leaders of the "new gilded age 2.0" have only been indoctrinated with the Gordon Gekko theory - "Greed Is Good".

    As we can plainly see, no, it's not...

    (I bet Sam Walton is spinning in his grave)

    America's LAST HOPE: vote the GOP OUT in 2014 elections. MAKE them LOSE the House Majority and reduce their numbers in the Senate. Democrats move America forward - Republicans take us backward and are KILLING OUR NATION!

    by dagnome on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:07:39 AM PST

    •  Please stop using Henry Ford as an example of an (0+ / 0-)

      "enlightened" capitalist.  Apart from being an appalingly horrific anti-Semite and de facto supporter of Hitler, the man micro-scrutinized his workers' lives to an astronomically totalitarian degree, as this diary shows.

      "Fordism" was a prelude for fascism.

  •  Wal-Mart will not do anything (20+ / 0-)

    out of the goodness of its non-existent heart.  For the workers to get a raise and real benefits requires a strong union, collective bargaining, and maybe some strikes.  

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:10:26 AM PST

  •  Even for someone like me who supports an increase (7+ / 0-)

    in the minimum wage, a study like the one attached doesn't make much sense.  

    All it does is say, "I find an amount of money that you used for X last year, and that same amount of money could have been used to do y" without  consideration of any of the business effects surrounding those decisions.  Not to mention that it finds a one-time pot of money which would fund those increases one year.  All it said is that "last year," Wal-Mart spend $7.6 billion buying back stock. That in no way, shape, or form means that Wal-Mart annually has $7.6 billion every year lying around to do whatever it wants with. The study says nothing about how to fund those ongoing increases in all of the following years.  Assuming that shifting that big of a pot of money from one place to another has no other business effects whatsoever what's Wal-Mart going to do over the next 10 years to pay those kinds of wages if NOT raise prices and/or lay off people, for example?

    And the part of the study that says, in effect, Wal-Mart could make more profit if it paid people more, is particularly absurd.  Don't you think that the people running their business know a lot more about their own business - and (given that their whole goal is to make profits) -- don't you think that if it were true that they could make more money if they paid people more, they'd do that in a heartbeat?  These kinds of studies by outside groups that say, essentially, "Hey, I've looked at your business for a couple of days, and you must be too stupid to notice, but if you did this thing that I for political reasons want you to do, you'd make more money" are never persuasive.  I wish studies like these would leave that kind of stuff out.  It just damages the credibility of the whole thing.  Make your argument about it being good for the country to pay Wal-Mart workers more. Unless you've done an extensive, in-depth study of their business model, their recent performance, and their financials, people like this should stay away from some argument that they suddenly know how a company can increase their profits.  It just looks silly.  

    Bottom line, I agree that a modest increase in the minimum wage needs to happen and would probably have only a small effect on unemployment levels. On the other hand, doubling minimum wages in the short term -- over the next couple of years, let's say -- would clearly hurt employment of teenagers and entry-level unskilled workers.  

    The minimum wage was never intended to be a wage that could "support a family of four."  It was always intended for teenagers and entry-level, unskilled workers.  The problem is not just that the minimum wage needs to go up some, say to $9 or $10.  The far bigger problem is that we have not been creating the kind of jobs that economically justify higher pay -- the kind of skilled jobs that economically justify something higher than minimum wage.

    The best way for many of those Wal-Mart workers to earn a wage sufficient to support a family of four is (1) to generate skilled jobs, jobs that justify higher than a minimum wage; and (2) provide the opportunities for people to train in those skills.  

    The minimum wage needs to go up, but it's not going to go to $15 an hour.  And the focus needs to be more on the kinds of jobs we are creating -- i.e., creating the kinds of jobs that really can lift people out of poverty.  To the extent we have been creating jobs since 2008, it has been too heavily shifted to service industry, low-wage jobs.  We need some policies that create more skilled jobs, jobs that economically justify something more than minimum wage.  

    •  Oh Jeez. (7+ / 0-)

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:31:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The core issue is that Walmart's (13+ / 0-)

      business model (& many others) relies on the taxpayer to fund their exploitation of workers. This artificially low minimum wage is propped up by all the subsidies they get from taxpayers. The shoveling of funds to the Walton family (& others) is going to end one way or another. Significantly raising the minimum wage is one peaceful way to do so. But there are others.
      Your tautology,that the best way for workers to make more money is to go get a job that pays more money is noted.

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:41:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is not what I said at all. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skymutt, thestructureguy, VClib
        Your tautology,that the best way for workers to make more money is to go get a job that pays more money is noted.
        What I am saying is that too much of the "job creation" since 2008 has been low-wage jobs.  See here and here and here and here and here.

        What I said that, as a matter of national policy, we need to focus on the kinds of jobs we are creating.  I want to see some national policies that focus on creating skilled jobs that justify higher than minimum wage.  

        As long as we are talking about minimum wage and low-skilled jobs, we are always going to be talking about low wages.  That's the nature of a capitalist society -- jobs that don't require much in the way of marketable skills are not going to pay much.  All we are doing with a minimum wage increase is tinkering around the edges.   Low wage jobs for unskilled workers are fine if those jobs are for teenagers or workers who use them to develop skills to move on to better paying types of jobs.  It's NOT fine if we are moving, as we seem to be, to an economy that either has very high-skilled, very well-paid jobs, on the one hand, and low paid unskilled workers on the other hand, and nothing much in between.  

        •  Pardon me while I get all (10+ / 0-)

          Dick Cheney. We have to deal with the jobs & situation that exists. Here and now. Yes,we must also help folks improve their skillsets,but the fact is,here and now in the USA., the cost of labor is not being paid for by businesses. While it is particularly true at the very lowest end of the wage scale,it is  roughly true across the board. The entire middle class is being hollowed out.  GDP grows and all benefit of same is concentrating at the top = rising INEQUALITY.  You are correct that raising the minimum wage significantly is just a small step to address this but it happens to be a popular step that can be made.
          In truth,other much more far reaching policies also need to happen.

          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

          by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:41:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Prattling about training and education doesn't (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean, tardis10, Tonedevil, caul

          change the fact that someone has to mop up the baby puke on Aisle 17.

          As Democrats we believe that person should be paid enough to support a humane existence.  That shared belief is the defining feature of this Party.   It is the mortar that welds this coalition together.

          Since you express a vicious contempt for honest working people, and constantly insist that they be harmed in order to benefit white-collar elites, I don't understand what the fuck you're doing here.

          You may not be as crude as the garden variety troll, but I see no part of the far-right pro-corporate agenda you seek to promote that has anything to do with electing more and better Democrats (at least, from the POV an actually Democrat).

          "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:01:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Um, I expressly support the minimum wage increase (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            put forth by the Democrats in Congress and the President -- $9 to $10 an hour.  I've said that over and over and over.  The minimum wage needs to go up (as I've said over and over and over) and that $9 to $10 an hour range is probably the right level economically.  

            I don't support the unrealistic, and potentially harmful, proposal by some here who have never run a business and have no idea of how business operates to raise it in the near term to something like $15 an hour.  That would cause a significant decrease in jobs, just for starters.  That would hurt a lot of the very people it was intended to help.  

            It is people who write things here pushing that unrealistic, and potentially harmful, increase to $15 an hour that are working against Democrats with respect to this issue.  

            •  You have absolutely no idea (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, caul, JesseCW

              of what people here have or have not done regarding running,starting or selling a business. (or in some cases more than one) NONE.

              "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

              by tardis10 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:23:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do and I agree with coffeetalk that an increase (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk

                of the minimum wage to $15/hr, all at once, would be very disruptive and would cause employment to shrink. I too support an increase in the minimum wage, but we can't double it over night.

                I have started numerous companies, two of which went public and were listed on NASDAQ before they were acquired. Does that count?

                coffeetalk is a partner in a law firm which is a small service business so she has some first hand understanding of these issues.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:22:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  My comment does not question anyone's authoriteh. (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  caul, VClib, JesseCW, Tonedevil

                  Not yours,mine,any other poster's or coffeetalk's.

                  However,coffeetalk here: "...proposal by some here who have never run a business and have no idea of how business operates... " claims an omniscience regarding fellow posters and their experience(s) that all the business acumen in the world does not give to anyone.  

                  Cool that you took two cos. to NASDAQ. We never went that far,selling the first maybe a bit too soon and then selling the second just right. (although a few who know would argue that)

                  In regard to the potential disruptions of an instantly doubled minimum wage ...my crystal ball says it ain't happening. Further, the crystal ball says never start any negotiation asking for less than you would be happy with.

                   

                  "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

                  by tardis10 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:44:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  There is a part of me.... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...that does say that $15/hr may be a bridge too far, at least for those smaller businesses; but, if you are going to call for increased wages, why not start at the highest number possible? At least they are looking at the big picture and negotiating from strength rather than weakness.

                  I'd favor a more tiered approach, using a $10 to $12/hr minimum wage as a floor, while indexing the wage to years of job experience and inflation, so that anyone with more than 5 years of job experience would qualify for a $15/hr minimum. Also, for tipped workers, I'd favor a $10/hr minimum, plus retention of all tips received.

                  All that, though, will only mean redistrubution to the banks, the debt collectors, and the oil companies unless we get some debt relief and progressive tax reform, and unless workers are allowed the right to organize themselves to protect their wages and jobs.

            •  You insist that we must not go beyond what the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              far right fringe of the Party will suggest.

              Even the NeoLiberal President has already bowed to pressure and is supporting over 10 dollars an hour.

              Before the year is out, you can bet it will be higher.

              I understand that you believe the poor should work two or three jobs.  I get that you believe it just thrills the hell out of us.

              But really, we'd rather if one job ceased to exist and we could make a living from the other job or two alone.

              "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:28:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I have run a successful small business. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              I and one partner created from the ground up.  I sold my interest to him when I became physically unable to continue doing the work required.

              But you've never had an involuntary slack bellied moment.  You've never had to try to feed yourself - let alone anyone else - on the poverty wages you think the poor "deserve".

              I understand that improving the lot of most Americans will hurt you financially.  I'm ok with that.

              Are you?

              "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:35:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Jesse - I have never read anything by coffeetalk (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            johnny wurster

            that could be considered "vicious contempt for honest working people". I think you are attributing views to her that she doesn't have at all.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:24:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I attribute to her views similar to yours. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              You spout the same gibberish about what working people "deserve".

              You adopt the same poses, offering stunningly ignorant opinions about what will benefit the poor while never having been one of us.

              You suffer from the common upper-middle class American illusion that having never been poor empowers you to advise the poor on how large a pile of crumbs we ought to settle for.

              At this site, you ussually align yourself with Shrike and Coffeetalk and strive to disrupt, derail, and discourage any serious efforts on our part to organize or inform each other.

              You're on the other side.   We cannot continue to pander to the tiny sliver of the population - 5% at most - that shares your weird little set of uniquely socially moderate and economically savage views.

              We need working people back in the Party, or we have no chance in hell of ever holding the House again.  It isn't possible to serve your interests and those of workers, as they are in direct opposition.

              "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:32:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Jesse - I grew up in a hollowed out northeastern (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk

                mill town, in a fourth floor walkup, the son of a high school dropout. Both my parents worked, my dad a full time job 8-5 and a part time job 20 hours a week. My mom full time. They lived paycheck to paycheck their entire lives, until all the kids left home. There was lots of love and stability, and my parents were great role models, but not a dollar for college.

                Try again.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 03:49:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  How do you generate skilled jobs? (7+ / 0-)

      It's impossible when the US economy is flatlining.

      Inducing people to quit jobs and take on educational debt only to remain unemployed in the higher skills job market is a cruel ruse.

      The economy grows from the bottom up, not the top down.   If you want to create jobs in the higher skilled sectors, stimulate consumer spending in the largest sectors of the population - low and middle income wage workers.

      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:00:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How does "consumer spending" alone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, VClib

        translate into more skilled, higher paying, jobs in the U.S.?  

        More demand for things being made in China means more jobs in China.  

        More demand for things that can't be sent overseas for production -- like service work, retail work, or restaurant work -- does generate more of those kinds of jobs here. But those are never going to be jobs that justify anything but wages at the lower end of the spectrum.  

        We need jobs for skilled workers -- electricians, welders, machinists, skilled construction workers, etc..  

        •  Stop sending production overseas to China (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Tonedevil, caul

          Return production to the US.

          Consumers have few choices these days. Nearly everything we buy is made in China, Mexico or a third world country.

          If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:53:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's the zillion dollar question, of course. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            How to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S.  

            You can't just order businesses to move their factories here.  

          •  Betty - the question is how do we do that? (0+ / 0-)

            We need to make manufacturing in the US the most economically compelling place to make products. I'm not sure we know how to do that.

            Consumers could force a change if they embraced "Buy American" and made it stick.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:27:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Through tax policy (0+ / 0-)

              Make it too expensive for US producers to ship overseas.

              If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

              by Betty Pinson on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:13:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Betty - I assume you mean (0+ / 0-)

                to ship manufacturing overseas. But how would that tax policy work? There are no specific tax benefits for offshoring jobs. The issue is how do you treat imports? We have trade agreements that make it nearly impossible to tax imports or charge tariffs.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:08:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'll leave that to DC Dems (0+ / 0-)

                  That's what we pay them to do - come up with legislative remedies to remove incentives to ship US jobs overseas.

                  If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

                  by Betty Pinson on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:17:30 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Manufacturing outside the US is often much (0+ / 0-)

                    less expensive. That's just a fact. How do you change that legislatively?

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:22:57 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  oh god VC (0+ / 0-)

                      You just opened the door for the standard call we see around here for Smoot-Hawley 2.0.

                      I used to work for a firm that did World Trade Court cases... I suppose I could always go back if I wanted some job security if that ever came close to happening.     ...only this time we'd be 100% on the defense.

                      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

                      by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:40:50 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Tax policy (0+ / 0-)

                      Carrot and stick.

                      If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

                      by Betty Pinson on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 02:16:46 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  How about this?? (0+ / 0-)

                      Public enterprises which offer earth-substaining and self sufficient manufacturing of better goods and services that simply beat out foreign-made products, built at livable wages by Americans not overworked or stressed out. Also, public infrastructure upgrades and investment in public education.

                      Oh, wait...that would be approaching the dangerous territory of social democracy and affirmative government not based on private profits going to the 1%. Can't have that...that would be too "socialistic" for TeaPublicans and neoliberals, right??

        •  "Justify"? The productive output of these workers (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, Calamity Jean, caul

          clearly justifies paying them a living wage.

          They're making far more than 15 bucks an hour.  Their labor is creating that value.

          You're simply insisting that lazy freaks incapable of an honest days work should have that money instead of the people who created it.

          You're both in and at the wrong Party, Reaganite.

          "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:03:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you have actual facts to support this statement (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib
            They're making far more than 15 bucks an hour.  Their labor is creating that value.
            What's the basis for a statement that the labor of a worker at Wal-Mart -- and that alone, without the capital and inventory investment -- generates more than $15 in revenue, i.e., enough so as to pay the worker and a reasonable profit?  When you talk about labor "creating value" you have to account for the fact that investment in other things besides labor -- like capital investments and inventory investments -- also factor into that "value created" as well, so you have to have some way to allocate it out.  

            Certainly it isn't that way in the fast food industry.  Although data for fast foot franchises is hard to come by, the best estimate is that a fast food franchise operates on a maybe 3 - 6% profit margin, and that labor makes up maybe 30 - 40% of their costs, so doubling their labor costs makes them unprofitable.  

    •  Wrong. (9+ / 0-)

      No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level—I mean the wages of a decent living.
      — Franklin Roosevelt (urging passage of minimum wage legislation)

      •  I'm for a minimum wage increase, as I said. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        But I'm realistic enough to know that there's no way it's to anything like $15 an hour.  

        Aside from the fact that, at that level, jobs for minimum wage workers (and all unskilled workers) would be seriously affected, do you REALLY think that we're going to raise the minimum wage so that a married couple each earning minimum wage at 2000 hours a year make close to $60,000 a year -- in the top half of all households?  People need to be realistic.  

        Minimum wage jobs are generally unskilled, entry level jobs.  They might well pay enough to support one person.  They are not going to pay well enough to support "a family of four."  To support "a family of four" on one income, people need to move from unskilled jobs into higher paying, skilled jobs that justify more than minimum wage.  And for people to do that, this country needs to focus on creating more of those kinds of jobs.

    •  Very good point about share buy backs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk, thestructureguy

      which are ad hoc decisions that can be started and stopped on a moments notice by the board of directors. Even if a buy back is announced it is implemented slowly and can be halted at any time. An increase is wages is an annual expense that can't be stopped at a moments notice. Somehow equating the two fails to take into account the short term flexibility of the share buy back versus the long term financial commitment to higher wages for its employees. They really are apples and oranges.  

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:01:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Median rent (7+ / 0-)

      In 1950 was 56 hours at minimum wage.  Today it's over 100 hours.  In 1950 the average new car cost less than a year's work at minimum wage.  Today it's more than double that.  If the minimum wage had increased with productivity, the minimum wage would be higher than 90% of Americans paid by the hour make today.  Australia has a ~$16/hr minimum wage.  Most minimum wage workers work for large, profitable companies.  The minimum wage should be raised by $1/hr per year until it hits 50% of the median wage, and then indexed either to inflation or to 50% of the median wage, whichever is higher in a given year.

    •  "The best way for many of those Wal-Mart workers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Tonedevil, caul

      to earn a sufficient wage" might just be to organize and demand a living wage.

    •  Coffeetalk: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Tonedevil, caul

      It is one thing to talk about the economic equilibrium that exists in our economy. It is quite another to assert that this equilibrium is good for the country.

      Suppose for the sake of argument that our economic and political system results naturally in a very few people receiving most of the economic benefits of the system, and that the overwhelming majority of people receive just barely enough to survive.

      I submit that such a system is bad for the country. It is bad because the vast majority of people suffer so that a tiny minority can enjoy unbridled opulence.

      This cannot be justified on the basis of any abstract notion of fairness. If the system results in greater overall suffering, then the system ought to be changed. I really don't care if the six or so Walmart heirs consider the system we have as "fair". I don't care if the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation considers it as "fair". The immensely wealthy will always consider this system as fair, in spite of the fact that they produce little or nothing of value.

      They teach no children, advise no clients, and mix no concrete. Those things are accomplished by the worker, not by those who receive billions in passive income.  

      All progressives want is what is best for the majority of hard working Americans. We seriously don't give a shit if the upper 0.10% on the economic ladder view this as "wealth redistribution" or "taking other people's money". What we want is for the majority to be reasonably prosperous.

      Allowing a tiny minority of extremely wealthy people to receive all the benefits of increased productivity is just wrong. It's evil. It's bad for the country.

      Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:45:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do not thing the income gap is good for the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        country.  Not. at. all.

        And I support an increase in the minimum wage, as I've said over and over and over.  

        What I am saying is that this pipe dream of $15 an hour is not only unrealistic, but if it happened, it would cause a significant and immediate decrease in employment levels.  

        What I am saying is that long term, the solution to lessening the income gap, and to giving more workers an opportunity to earn a living wage is (1) to bring more skilled jobs - not minimum wage jobs -- to this country ; and (2) to give people the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to fill those jobs.

        We need middle class jobs, not minimum wage jobs, regardless of where that minimum wage is.  

        •  My solution would be to (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, caul, tardis10

          raise taxes on the rich to the point where all segments of the population share equally in productivity increases.

          The income gap is bad for both rich and poor alike. It is, IMO, the defining problem of this point in our history. If we do nothing to address it, it will destroy this great country.

          300 million serfs serving 10 million masters is not a good idea for either.

          Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 04:07:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And just to bring it back to Wal-Mart.... (0+ / 0-)

        They stock no shelves or run no cash registers.

    •  Sometimes training isn't enough. (0+ / 0-)
      (2) provide the opportunities for people to train in those skills.
      But, we also need to have a supply of trainable and motivated people to take training. Our society (due to cultural, familial, and public school issues mostly) is not sufficiently increasing the supply of such people. Each decade results in the job mix requiring more brains, motivation, and versatility - a strong back could get you a job 75 years ago, now there are way more people with strong backs than there are positions where that's the primary job requirement.

      In my field, engineering, we end up using a lot of H1-B employees. The popular meme is that we do that to save money. I'm sure some employers do, but I've never, ever, hired an H1-B to save money (on the average, I pay them the same as or more than non H1-B employees AND we incur the cost of paying for the H1-B process and follow-on so I prefer not to hire H1-Bs). I sometimes end up hiring them because they are just more qualified and enthusiastic and less self-entitled and self-absorbed than so many of the "American" workers whose resumes come my way.

  •  If a company... (7+ / 0-)

    Uses their profits to buy back shares - it means they have no other place that they want to place that money.  It means they are not expanding and not investing.  It provides no value and no production.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

    by RichM on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:27:33 AM PST

    •  That's true... (0+ / 0-)

      But huge corporations often really do not have good options to expand their business.  WalMart, for example, has traditionally grown by opening new and bigger stores and selling more and different types of merchandise.  But where on the planet is there not already a WalMart nearby?  What else are they going to sell?  

      •  They tried to get in on the smaller store model (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skymutt

        They looked into half-size stores to compete with Dollar General and Family Dollar in more urban areas.  We chased them out of our downtown area last year because we didn't want a Walmart there.

        (They later said they weren't seriously considering it, but had simply done an exploratory review, blah blah.)

        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

        by catwho on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Services (0+ / 0-)

        In the past they've looked at expanding into banking and healthcare.

        They already offer some financial services.

  •  If I was one of the owners of Walmart I'd be (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Betty Pinson, Tool, MKinTN, Tonedevil

    Embarrassed, these people are worth billions--how much money is enough money to stuff in their pockets? They'll scream if we pay our employees more, we'll go out of business. B.S, total rubbish. Greed is the only factor stopping Walmart, and other corporations like it from paying their employees living wages.

  •  Stock buy backs are going on with a lot of those (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, caul

    record corporation profits.  So there's more than the Walmart employees who could benefit from being paid more.

  •  If WalMart raised wages that much (10+ / 0-)

    Tax revenues and savings would increase by roughly the same amount.  It's a win-win situation.  But conservatives can't fathom win-win.  They believe for them to win, somebody has to lose.  

  •  Tragic (0+ / 0-)

    I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because even the simplest transaction seems to take 30 minutes and I value my time more than whatever savings might have been had.  Never mind the countless other ills that Wal-Mart causes, such as crushing local business and replacing good local jobs with starvation wage jobs.

    It is tragic to see what happened to the company founded with the idea of profit sharing at the lowest levels and treating your employees as partners.

    Sam Walton created an empire by empowering the employee.  Unfortunately that empire crushed all the competition and his legacy died with him.  Now the corporate entity has created a self funding eco-system where it's employees have no other choice of employment, and can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart on the wages they make.

    Still I can't help but think that if everyone who is upset at Wal-Mart for their anti-competitive, abusive and otherwise poor business practices, stopped shopping at Wal-Mart, the situation would surely change.  Either Wal-Mart would implode or they would take the public outcry seriously.

    While I believe in the free market and do not generally support the concept of unions, with a 1000 to 1 CEO pay ratio, it seems something is desperately needed.

    •  "do not generally support the concept of unions" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Tonedevil, caul

      hmmmm

      unions are one of the structural counterweights to help fight the structural imbalances that corporate entities have become.

      As you point out, even some of the folks who are "upset at Wal-Mart for their anti-competitive, abusive and otherwise poor business practices" can't stop shopping at Wal-Mart, precisely because of that self-funding eco-system them have created.

      THAT's one reason the "concept" of unions is a good (and a necessary) one.

      Oligarchy does not live by markets alone, why should workers?

      Just another $0.02 for thought...

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:14:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the waltons use share buybacks for their own needs (0+ / 0-)

    they can use it to increase their own personal stock ownership.

    to mask dilution as they sell shares.
    to decrease the amount the company will pay out in dividends.

    or for any other reasons they may see fit.

    there is another way. if they increase the cost of a cart of goods by a nickel or a quarter they would be able to increase wages by a significant amount.

  •  Nice to know our tax dollars in food stamps and (4+ / 0-)

    medicaid serve to make the rich richer.

  •  With respect to stock buybacks... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catwho, thestructureguy

    ...the analyst in the WSJ was opining on the effectiveness of stock buybacks compared to other investments a company could make, such as buying buildings and equipment, spending on R&D, or acquiring other companies.  He certainly wasn't saying that a stock buyback would be less effective from a shareholder perspective than spending the money on huge, across the board raises to the existing workforce, which would be very worker friendly but very shareholder unfriendly.  

  •  Here is something else to consider (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Calamity Jean, Tonedevil

    So we argue that they can pay higher wages without raising prices, and then they argue, "no we can't." And then where does that get us?

    First of all they need to pay a living wage. Period.

    If they can't do that and stay in business then they should be shut down.

    Perhaps we should tell Walmart something about what WE can't do anymore, ie supplement their profits by our taxes.

    Working people deserve a living wage. Period. End of story. Full Stop.

    We should tell them that that is not up for debate.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:29:32 PM PST

  •  GDP/capita 342% higher ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    Note that we first exceeded the current $7.25 value of the minimum wage in real inflation adjusted terms back in 1950 when the nominal wage was increased to $0.75/hr, or $7.28/hr in July 2013 dollars. Our society has a real gdp per capita 342% higher than in 1950.

    http://www.fas.org/...

    The minimum wage continued to rise in real terms until 1968 (10.77/hr in real terms). The current minimum is now just 2/3rds of that level, 45 years later, in a society where real gdp per capita is more than double that level (216% as of 2012). From 1938 to 1968, the minimum wage grew to 2.64x the original level in real terms, while gdp per capita grew to 2.74x the original level. Had the minimum wage increased at the same rate as gdp per capita after 1968, the minimum wage would now be $23.26/hr or 320% of the current level.

    I'm not suggesting we raise the minimum wage immediately to >$20/hr. I do think it would be quite reasonable to raise it higher than $9/hr, perhaps by $1/hr/yr, whereafter it would be indexed and ratcheted to either inflation or 50% of the average wage, whichever was high in a given year.

  •  But Wait ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Tonedevil

    If Walmart had to pay its workers a living wage, could it still afford to pay "real moms" to tell America how wonderful it is?  All Fun and Games at Walmart

  •  If Walmart had to pay a living wage, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sngmama

    Walmart employees would have more to spend on the things sold in OTHER stores, many of which are staffed by minimum wage workers (for example, breakfast at the Waffle House) whose wages would ALSO have been raised, and who buy things at Walmart.  Those other stores, and Walmart, would then have MORE BUSINESS, which would make up for the "cost" of higher wages (and by the way, how come when a company buys an expensive new machine, it is an "investment," but when they raise wages, thus attracting better workers while inspiring/enabling better work from the existing ones, it is a "cost"?).  With more business, Walmart execs and big stockholders would make more money, so what is the big problem?  Could it be that they measure their wealth not in terms of how much THEY can buy, but in terms of how much BETTER off they are than everyone else?  So that making themselves a bit richer by making the majority poorer is perceived as a BETTER OUTCOME than making themselves a LOT richer, ALONG WITH the majority of Americans?  The "peasants" have to be starving to make the "king" feel like more of a king?

  •  Couldn't the Shareholders Sue the Company (0+ / 0-)

    for squandering on employees its stock buybacks that are increasing value to the owners?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:07:42 PM PST

  •  File Under: So What?? (0+ / 0-)

    Congress might raise the min wage to a feeble $10.00 an hour... if they manage to do this-- which I highly doubt, they will heartily congratulate themselves, telling themselves and our useless media about what "champions of the people, the workers" they are.

    WHAT A LOAD.

    re: Wal-Mart, again, if you actually want to get their attention,  a massive, prolonged boycott of their crappy stores has to happen.

    they are already feeling the pinch, since our great congress just cut SNAP benefits to millions- those people are now shopping at an even lower retail rung-- Dollar Stores and so forth.

    Kick 'em when they are down-- THAT is what they do to everyone else.

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:16:18 PM PST

  •  Wow, you mean it's that easy! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster

    All Walmart has to do is take money that would otherwise go to owners, and give it to workers!  As they say in Spanish, you've discovered warm water.

    A system based on the voluntary rejiggering of income is chimerical and not worth talking about.  If you think Walmart should pay workers more, you need to legislate a higher wage or legislate the conditions for unionization and collective bargaining.  

    My comments are coming from a place of love.

    by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:25:58 PM PST

  •  Of course they could. And if it made good (0+ / 0-)

    business sense they would.  They want to and have to make good business decisions which means more money to their shareholders. So there is zero chance of getting 14.89 an hour.  Once low wages impact their bottom line then you'll see higher hourly rates.  

    When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

    by thestructureguy on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:26:00 PM PST

  •  I just want the CEO of Walmart to be able to buy (0+ / 0-)

    another home in Boca Raton, FL......this is worse than the Gilded Age. And agree with Superpole....boycott all Walmart stores that is the only way we little folks will be able to fight back. Every single product they sell is made in China...hell work on the patriotism angle.

  •  stop shopping at Walmart (0+ / 0-)

    by shopping there you directly contribute to the problem.  I.e.  Rewarding bad behavior.

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:29:26 PM PST

  •  Maybe WalMart should just pay them in STOCK (0+ / 0-)

    if that's the only that matter to these people, and the only thing makes money.

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:38:20 PM PST

  •  But...but...but... (0+ / 0-)

    If the Walton family has less disposable income, what will happen the next time one of them wants a college degree without actually doing the course work?  S/he may not have enough to pay someone else to do the work for her!

  •  That the minimum wage needs to be raised AND (0+ / 0-)

    indexed is a no-brainer. I have no doubt we can raise it to it's historic high in real dollars - around 10 and hour - and then index it, and have a win win solution. More money for people at the bottom, and more dollars circulating with a multiplier effect that will be good for business.

    And if we have it indexed with a small increase for inflation every year, we no longer will the current absurd situation. We go for many years without raising the minimum wage - periods where the Democrats don't have the power to raise it - and when the Dems to get the power, the same Republicans who are responsible for blocking small yearly increase whine that a large increase will be disruptive to the economy.

    How about going higher than 10, maybe to 15? My heart is all for this, and my brain wants to go along. But I want to see some studies by some economists about what the effect might be. A too high minimum wage will hurt many of the people it is supposed to help. Cranked up too high, it will cause layoffs and inflation. But what is too high? I don't have the wisdom to know what that tipping point might be. I want to hear what the economic community has to say on this, and I don't mean the Cable Business Channels economists - we wouldn't have a minimum wage if these scoundrels had their way.

    I say let's go for the 10.00 with indexing, and lets look into the idea of some further raises.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:16:26 PM PST

  •  Although i do wish the (0+ / 0-)

    Minimum wage would increase, i still have questions.

    I make $19/hr as a medical coder in a rural hospital.
    I have to know anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, medical coding icd-9 (soon going to icd10), cms guidelines, and a host of software programs in order to do my job. And most hospitals require certification, ongoing ceu's and productivity standards be met.

    If an entry level walmart employee starts at $15/hr, where does that leave others who are much more skilled?

    Again, i agree with an increase, but if they can overtake me in a few short years (my average yearly raise is 1%) do i become the new lowest paid worker?

    •  Inevitably... (0+ / 0-)

      ...wages above minimum wage will also go up -- for exactly the reason you describe - although there would likely be some wage compression (partially because many skilled workers really would not like to do the "minimum wage" jobs so wouldn't jump ship even if those jobs paid almost as much as what they were making).

      •  Ok,i see what you're saying. (0+ / 0-)

        My guess is that wage compression at the lower 20% or so of the ladder is going to be a fairly large gripe/concern for those effected!!

        I am out of the labor market hopefully in 3-4 years but considering i don't make much, my savings is non-existent. And i have paid a boatload in HC premiums that should have gone into a pension.

        Aint amurca jest grand.

  •  Lets nominate a former Walmart board member (0+ / 0-)

    for President. That will change things.

    /snark

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 12:37:13 AM PST

  •  Walmart is such a (0+ / 0-)

    FUCKING loser.

    Buying back your own stock to make you look like a winner? Really??

    That's like getting your mom to write letters to your boss saying how great you are and you should get a raise.

    Go to hell, Waltons. Seriously. You have done so much damage to this country - I'd be happy if you just left now. But, if you want to wait 5-10 years for your company to hit the shitter first then that's fine with me too.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 01:01:44 AM PST

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