Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Walmart Versus Big Government and Unions (Part II)

One complaint about Walmart is employees must endure weird and non-consistent hours. As a test engineer for Texas Instruments my hours were not consistent or normal. Since test equipment is expensive, the company expected engineers to use the equipment 24/7. Complicating hours even more was the fact many of our customers and manufacturing facilities were overseas making “weird” times for meetings. Many jobs have “weird” hours that are not conducive for a family unit. Yes, engineers are paid well, but keep in mind most engineers work a minimum of 50 hours per week and the average is probably closer to 60.

Another complaint is Walmart products are mostly produced in China and the people who make them work in sweatshops. Assuming this is true, employees should then be grateful they work at Walmart in U.S. And let’s not forget that unrealistic union demands are the reason why manufacturing jobs are moving overseas.

Walmart has been called racist because 70% of its employees are women – meaning women are being subject to lower paying jobs. This makes little sense. Using this same logic we can say the federal government is racist because over 60% of all people receiving welfare benefits are minorities.

Liberals want the EPA to investigate Walmart for storing pesticides and herbicides in parking lots. They argue that this is a danger to food and water due to potential runoff when it rains. If this is a crime, then the manufacturers and the customers using these products are also guilty and need to be investigated by the EPA.

Another complaint about Walmart is the documented high crime rates in their parking lots. But crime rates are higher in parking lots across the country, especially at malls. Parking lots are harder to patrol, harder to light, and they have easier escape routes compared to inside places. My car was broken into twice and hit 3 times in my company parking lot.

If Walmart is evil then why is their pay and benefits comparable to other retail outlets such as Target? The free market determines salaries and benefits and as long as there is demand for workers to earn 10 to 12 dollars per hour companies will continue to offer these jobs. And let’s not forget, employees have choices in the United States – they can pick a job they like and have the opportunity to get an education to qualify them for higher paying jobs. But let’s face facts, many Americans are lazy and choose the easiest route. For instance, it is certainly much easier to earn a useless liberal arts degree than an engineering degree.

Another argument liberals make against Walmart is their employees cost the taxpayers over 2 billion dollars annually in entitlements. Let’s point out most Walmart employees requesting entitlements are new employees who have yet to earn healthcare benefits and part time workers by choice. But at the same time is it okay for union and government workers to earn unrealistic pensions that are approaching 20 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities (taxpayers are funding)? Is it okay for union workers to cost private sector companies billions in revenue (and the government tax revenue) because they go on strike? Is it fair that government workers are paid more than private sector workers for doing the same job? Still, Walmart pays far more in taxes and gives more to charity than their employees claim in federal subsidies.

Consider this; a union line worker for an automotive company has an 80% chance to accumulate more wealth over their lifetime than a non-union PhD. engineer who designs the safety systems for cars. Remember, an automotive line worker can start accumulating wealth at 18. On the other hand, a PhD graduate cannot start accumulating wealth until they are 26 and by that time they are more than likely over 100K in debt with school loans. In this scenario, I assume the average engineer works at least 50 hours a week. Hence, a union worker who puts in 50 hours per week will be paid time and half for 10 hours per week. This scenario also considers that the union worker will have considerably lower healthcare costs. Is this scenario fair? Does this promote education over dropping out of high school? Does this promote ingenuity? And for this reason, U.S. automotive companies have become less competitive losing market share to foreign companies. In the U.S., Honda can make a comparable car to any GM, Ford, or Chrysler car for at least 20% less cost. The point is unions have to realistic about worker benefits, pay, and compensation. If unions were being realistic than Boeing would not have been forced to move some of its operations from pro union to right to work states and Hostess would not have been forced out of business because of unrealistic demands.

The bottom line is that Walmart does far more for Americans than the federal government and unions combined.

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