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Let Them Work At Wal-Mart!

Reported by Ellen - June 5, 2009 -

Co-authored by Brian

On yesterday's (6/4/09) Your World, Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson joined host Neil Cavuto to discuss the good news that Wal-Mart is hiring 22,000 workers “without any government stimulus at all.” Rather than analyze or investigate the circumstances of the hires, Fox used the news to take a swipe at the Obama administration – and America's workers – by suggesting that this had proved the government stimulus package was unnecessary. The "fair and balanced" segment featured a host and guest with, essentially, the same opinion. With video.

"It's great news, of course,” Carlson said. “This is sort of like Henry Ford raising salaries in the middle of the depression. It's something that ought to be heralded and celebrated, not that it will be.” Actually, it's nothing like Henry Ford. Wal-Mart is adding jobs, not giving raises. And Wal-Mart is not exactly known for offering generous salaries. Business Week reported in April, 2008, that Wal-Mart workers earn an average of $22,500 annually. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the threshold of poverty in 2006 for a family of four was $21,200. Ford, on the other hand, was known for raising his workers' pay to $5 a day at a time (1914) when $2 a day was considered a good wage. In 1932, when Ford lost $74,000,000, Ford lowered his workers' minimum wage to $4 a day, then upped it to $6 in 1935. Time reported, “The Detroit automaker was praised as an "inspired millionaire," accused of shrewd self-interest, damned as a dangerous Socialist.” Somehow, I don't think anyone will be damning Wal-Mart as a dangerous Socialist any time soon, especially not on Fox. That term seems to be reserved for President Obama.

As a banner with the "Cavuto mark" of a question asked, "Is Walmart putting govt stimulus to shame?" Tucker acknowledged, "Frankly, Wal-Mart has a lot of enemies... This is an obvious American success story. This is the largest retailer in the world. It's run out of the United States by Americans. This is something about which you can feel proud as a patriot." Except that the vast majority of this American retailer's stock is made in China.

Cavuto didn't clarify matters; he just took a swipe at unions. "You know the environment, here, that Wal-Mart is the poster child of all things evil to workers, that it has not treated them fairly, it's so aggressively trying to stop them from unionizing. You know the rap and the charge, that it's all but made them indentured servants." I guess Cavuto figures he's got his cushy job far from the poverty line, why should he worry about anyone else struggling to make ends meet?

Carlson also seemed to think Wal-Mart jobs were just peachy for America. "These aren't dead end jobs. These are people who need a job now...most will have health care." Yes, most will, probably. The Washington Post recently reported that 52% of Wal-Mart workers utilize Wal-Mart health insurance. But the company charges its low-wage workers a substantial portion of their income for medical coverage and many workers have chosen low-premium, high-deductible plans that analysts say provide less coverage for preventive and primary care.

So instead of a stimulus for good-paying jobs with full benefits (and it's doubtful either Cavuto or Carlson are going to be supporting any kind of public health care coverage any time soon), American workers (except for Cavuto and Carlson, themselves) should settle for squeaking past poverty levels and bargain basement health coverage.