Has Slave Labor Come to America?

Those under the impression that the United State’s free market is actually free couldn’t be more wrong. This so-called “free” market is actually costing American taxpayers money and lots of it. Unfortunately, slave labor and wages have come to a neighborhood near you via your most popular retailers. Many of our country’s favorite corporations do not pay workers a living wage. How could the retailers we loyally shop at treat us so badly in return?

Instead of paying workers a living wage, these places opt to pay the government’s bare minimum wage requirements. Paying employees the modern day equivalent of a slave wages not only adds another helping or two to these corporation’s already obese profit margins, but does so on the taxpayer’s dimes.

Last week marks the first ever successful strike for Walmart employees. It’s no surprise the retailer has long gotten away with underpaying and exploiting their workers and then sending us the bill. Whether you shop at big corporations with bad reputations (like Walmart) or not, if you are a taxpayer, you are being short-changed by this very company and others of its caliber. How is that, you say? Slave wages have come to America and you are paying the price.

Don’t let Walmart fool you. Just because they aren’t paying their American employees $0.55 an hour (a rate of pay that exceeds the hourly wages of their sweat shop workers in China) doesn’t mean Americans aren’t receiving slave wages. The average Walmart worker makes $8.81 an hour, $15,576 per year which is below the poverty line for a family of two or more and low enough a wage for even a household of one to qualify for public assistance and food stamps. Walmart reaped over $400 billion in global profits last year and your hard-earned taxes helped foot a bill that Walmart could’ve easily took care of.

Walmart workers, as a group, are the largest food stamp recipients in the country totaling $2.66 billion annually. That’s right, Walmart, a company that makes more than $400,000,000,000 a year is taking more than $2,660,000,000 out of tax payers pockets annually because they have refused to pay their workers a living wage. Not only has Walmart callously expected the taxpayers to pick up the slack, but the government has allowed them to get away with it! In fact, reports say Walmart has direct knowledge of this and directly assist employees in applications for both food stamps and Medicaid. And that is not all. Walmart also takes millions, perhaps billions in tax breaks, free land and other government subsidies.

There are slave laborers in America and they are right under our noses. We encounter these workers every day of the week. Some may argue that minimum wage is far from slave labor, but without government assistance and food stamps, these workers would be starving and homeless. How are these not slave wages? Additionally, “Walmart’s intentionally low wages and lack of covered benefits cost taxpayers over $1.02 BILLION a year in healthcare costs.”

Of course, many of our biggest retailers are guilty of paying intentionally low wages at the cost of the tax-payers (McDonald’s, K-Mart, Target), but Walmart is the worst of this motley crew. Since Walmart began its move into a neighborhood near you, wages have decreased; small business have closed and been shipped over seas; the poverty level has sky-rocketed; and we lost a total of 196,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector because of the company’s imports from China.

With Walmart employees accounting for 1% of the country’s working population, it seems that proper government intervention is needed to redirect this burden back to the retail giant and away from the country’s working class citizens. The six heirs to the Walmart fortune are worth the same as the bottom 40% of Americans: Sam Walton’s six living family members are worth the same amount of money as approximately 1,250,000 Americans!

Many of these 40%ers happen to fall in the category Mitt Romney regards as the 47%, or as his constituent Daryl Metcalfe describes them “people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there.” Au contraire. It appears to be the other way around, some type of Reverse Robin Hood, if you will…

Walmart could easily afford to pay their associates an extra $5,000 per year. Though this would cost them an extra $7 billion annually, they would still reap record profits and this time with a clear conscience. However, it seems that having a clear conscience is not all that important to them.

For years Governor Romney and his countless Republican pals have championed the free market system as a self-governing entity that has resulted in a fair chance for businesses to not only regulate themselves through supply and demand, but to fairly exercise business ethics and morals based on societal need. Of course, this is a joke; we all know what happens when you leave a young child alone with a big sack full of Halloween candy. The only difference here is that when a child’s sibling or baby sitter enters the room and unexpectedly finds the child scarfing down candy in all his glory, the child might offer them some. But not Walmart and like-minded conglomerates.

Walmart should change their symbol of a smiley face to a picture of a leech. But with all six of Walmart’s heirs being a group of shamelessly obese hogs, such a sign might be an insult to leeches.

It’s an insult to every American that most Walmarts have a huge American flag hanging proudly outside their premises. Until further notice, the flags should be taken down and replaced with a sign that reads, “Walmart: enemy of the state. Destroying the American dream one community at a time.”


Filed under News, Political

20 Responses to Has Slave Labor Come to America?

  1. suzanne smith

    Excellent post and an eye opening look at the giants. My neighbors work at Walmart and are ok but poor. Very sad.

    • Hayley Rose

      It’s just not right- we are all being taken advantage of by these huge corporations- we must get the word out- please share the post!

  2. Linda Seccaspina

    No matter what people write and say Walmart continues to have the mass shoppers. Sadly, price over conscience reigns today.:(

  3. Linda Seccaspina

    No matter what people write and say Walmart continues to have the mass shoppers. Sadly, price over conscience reigns today.:(

  4. Daina

    Hayley- excellent article!!!
    I will share this with my American studies class on Monday..
    Keep up the great work!

    • Hayley Rose

      Thanks Daina- please share it with as many people as possible, email Fb whatever- people have no idea that walmart is not only underpaying their workers but sending the slack to taxpayers

  5. Sheila Luecht

    Great post.

  6. derek p.

    I totally agree but this isnt just walmart there are alot of companies from walmarts size to smaller chain companies. Greed has become ridiculous and there are examples in many many places.

    • Hayley Rose

      Absolutely! And what I found most important while writing this is that WE ARE ALL being effected- not just their workers! This should make people angry. All at once we have to fight for our brothers and sisters to have fair wages and fight for ourselves to not be taken advantage of- it’s ridiculous- because you know middle class America can barely pay their own bills but are the group primarily responsible for footing most of Walmart’s (and other retailer’s) bills! Thanks for commenting Derek! Please visit again!

  7. John

    since watching “Wal-Mart, the high cost of low prices” documentary this article proves yet again why we need more unions in this country to demand a fair and living wage

    • Hayley Rose

      Agreed 100% obviously they are not using the free-market is not the self-regulating system they claim it to be (ethical and fair)…

  8. writerIndy

    FYI it’s “conscience”, NOT “conscious”. Thanks for talking about this issue. It’s huge.

  9. I have already went and tried to figure out how this will appear, when the right formalizes it. http://www.filthyliberal.com/filthyliberal/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126&Itemid=118

  10. NoTimeForFools

    This blog entry speaks to very real and profound injustices currently blighting the American economy and culture. This is a message that should be shouted from the roof tops. I applaud you for attempting to do so. However, you have hung the entire weight of your argument on a concept that simply does not exist, and which will, unfortunately, relegate what should be a fine piece on social justice to the heap labeled “ramblings of well meaning but poorly focused individuals.”

    What do I mean? I’ll be succinct. There is no such thing as “slave wages.” Slaves, by definition, are not paid for their labor – not minimum wage, not less than minimum wage as waitresses and waiters legally are, not even pennies an hour like prisoners in the US penal system are. Slaves are paid absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Their labor is completely unpaid. Period.

    Millions of Americans are descendants of real slaves. Their ancestors knew the difference between workers who are grossly abused by powerful corporations and a system which allows and encourages this abuse, and workers who are literally chattel – bought and sold at their owner’s whim and given only what food and shelter said owner deemed appropriate. And if that owner wanted to starve or beat their slave to death, they had every legal right to do so. That’s what slavery is.

    You freely banter the words “slave” and “slavery” around in this blog in order to make your point. But you clearly know nothing about slavery. As bad as things are for working class people in this country right now – and we agree, I think, that they are indeed very bad – we haven’t quite slipped back that far. You have something important to say here. But I think you need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more appropriate construct on which to base your argument.

    And, finally, I have a question for your editor. If this blog is supposed to be a collection of comments made by Hayley, shouldn’t it be titled “Hayley’s Comments” and not “Hayleys Comments” as it is now?

    • Hayley Rose

      To answer your final question- web addresses do not allow domains to have APOSTROPHES, therefore I have left it out to remain consistent

      Secondly the rest of your comment falls under the category of “missing the point”

  11. Jeanette

    I totally understand your usage of the term “slave wages”. Excellent article, Hayley and this is a sad and disgusting time in our country’s history that these corporations, oh, I’m sorry, I mean “job creators” are allowed to treat employees this way. I have not and will never walk into a Walmart.

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