Who pays when an employer does not offer health care or pension benefits to its employees, opting instead to pocket its profits?
The Huffington Post has obtained a copy of Walmart’s health care policy, which shows that the, the nation’s largest private employer will begin to deny insurance to new employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. The company can also choose to eliminate health coverage for current workers whose hours dip below the 30 hour threshold.
“This is another example of a tremendous government subsidy to Walmart via its workers,” says Nelson Lichtenstein, the director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara.
In anticipation of the Affordable Care Act, experts say that Walmart is effectively shifting the costs of paying for its employees onto the federal government. The Act extends Medicaid to low- income citizens and many if not most Walmart employees working fewer than 30 hours per week would drop below the poverty limits for inclusion in the expanded program. Merry Xmas Walmart!
Meanwhile, Walmart Stores reported a 9% increase in third-quarter net income last month as the world’s largest retailer continues to bring back shoppers by emphasizing it has the lowest prices.
The Associated Press reports that revenue for Walmart’s U.S. business, which accounts for about 60% of the company’s total business, rose 3.6% to $66.1 billion, while revenue at Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club rose 4.7% to $13.9 billion. Revenue at its international division, which accounts for about a quarter of Walmart’s total revenue, rose 4.7%.
Wal-Mart accounts for nearly 10% of nonautomotive retail spending in the U.S.
Walmart has reportedly instructed its public relations staff to stop communicating or responding to inquiries from The Huffington Post.
The Revolution Won’t be Televised
A while back, I noted the U.S. Supreme Court has done more than it’s fair share to contribute to the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our society.
The President and the U.S. Congress receive much of the blame in the “one percent v. 99 percent” debate because they can be seen sweating under the glare of the television spotlight. They can be held accountable. But the nation’s highest Court conveniently refuses to allow its proceedings to be televised.
Now the Court has issued a press release that makes it clear it will not allow television cameras when it hears arguments on President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on March 26, 27, and 28. The law is being challenged by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. Instead, the Court will provide the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on the Court’s website, www.supremecourt.gov.
The audio recordings and transcripts undoubtedly will be of interest to a few law students and historians but most people today “watch” their news on television or the Internet. Refusing to be televised is akin to insisting in 1440 that the bible be penned in ink by monks, longhand, rather than printed on the newfangled Gutenberg printing press.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found that 72% of the people surveyed think the Court should allow cameras to televise oral arguments on the health care law.
Many Americans are dismayed by the tawdry spectacle of the on-going Presidential race – which is infused with money funneled through superpacs from foreign countries and their lobbyists. How many know that this is the direct result of the Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), which held that corporate funding of “independent” political broadcasts in elections is protected speech under the First Amendment? Many on both sides of the political aisle believe the Citizens United ruling is literally one of the worst rulings in history and reflects a Court that is sadly out of touch with reality.
Could the Court be unaware of the deleterious effect of the Citizen’s United ruling on our country? One could make a compelling argument that televising court proceedings would not only be good for America but also for the U.S. Supreme Court.