Disputing Wal-Mart manager's argument

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, June 07, 2005

In response to Tim Scott's letter to the editor on June 2, I must acknowledge the amount of people he says currently have health care. My concern though is that the company that performed the study, per their own Web site, is in the business of "improving the effectiveness of their [clients'] marketing and customer management programs." I would gladly say the idea of 86 percent of their employees having health insurance is marketing, especially when just over half of Wal-Mart's employees are not provided insurance through the company and 13 percent have no insurance. By his own numbers, that means nearly 354 employees in Alaska have no insurance and that is unacceptable by any stretch of the imagination. And paying medical bills on $10 an hour is no easy feat.

Ten dollars might sound nice but the median income level for the state between 2000-2002 was over $55,000, or roughly $25.40 an hour. In Juneau alone, males have a mean hourly income of $22 an hour and females roughly $16 an hour. With the average income of full-time employees at only $10.77 that makes a yearly salary of only $22,401 compared to a per capita income for the city of $26,719 (total income of city divided by the amount of people living in Juneau). In 1999 the Census Bureau set the Juneau poverty line at roughly $25,000 (individual) and Wal-Mart can't even pay people that.

Wal-Mart can inflate their numbers to make it look like they provide an invaluable service to the community, but when you throw real numbers out there they horde profit and inflate poverty throughout communities. We cannot allow a big-arm company to trash the business environment of Juneau. With 6 percent of individuals in the city below the poverty level already, we cannot allow them to come into the city and inflate that number by even a fraction of a percent.

They will provide jobs, but not at a rate that one can sustain life in Juneau. We must not allow them to build here. Plain and simple.

Ben Madison


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