What's so happy about Walmart's 50th birthday? | Arkansas Blog

What's so happy about Walmart's 50th birthday?

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Walmart has been drawing huzzahs and print tributes all over, particularly in Arkansas, on the occasion of its 50th birthday. A host of Arkansas-made millionaires nod along happily, not to mention throngs of devoted Walmart shoppers.

Some believe there is another side to the Walmart story, of course.

For example, there's this from sumofus.org, a global consumer group, which provided the graphic above and commentary:

In half a century, Walmart has led a transformation in retail in the United States and, increasingly, the world. The company, the largest retailer in history, has driven a push towards big-box suburban stores that has decimated smaller retailers, accelerated urban sprawl and siphoned up money both from local communities and the federal government, as many Walmart employees must rely on government assistance to make ends meet.

It also provides these factoids:

* The six Walmart heirs have a net worth equal to the bottom 30% of Americans.

* Walmart costs U.S. taxpayers upwards of $1.5 billion. That is the same amount that was cut from the global poverty alleviation budget in 2012 due to budget shortfalls.

* Walmart’s highest-earning women continue to be paid 67 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn.

* The average Walmart sales associate would have to work for over 21,000 years to equal the amount of money Walmart pays out to the average Walton heir annually.

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Then there's this from Stacy Mitchell, author of "The Big Box Swindle" and a researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

Walmart has been a primary driver behind many troubling trends in the U. S. economy:

* Some 40,000 U. S. factories closed between 2001 and 2007, eliminating millions of jobs. During these six years, Walmart's imports from China tripled in value from $9 billion to $27 billion.

* Between 1992 and 2007, the number of independent retailers fell by over 60,000, according to the U. S. Census Bureau.

* The percentage of working poor is at the highest its been in more than two decades, according to Census data. The average Walmart employee relies on $943 a year in food stamps, Medicaid, and other public assistance, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

"Whatever we may have saved shopping at Walmart, we've more than paid for in diminished opportunities and declining income."

But ... the poor and unemployed can buy cheaper groceries thanks to Walmart.

... and many moooooorrre!

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