In Defense of Walmart (NYSE:WMT)
Is Walmart the Worst Company in America?
This week, Ashton Kutcher blasted Walmart because a Walmart store in Ohio set up a food drive to help co-workers afford a decent Thanksgiving.
Kutcher sent out a tweet reading: “Walmart is your profit margin so important you can't Pay Your Employees enough to be above the poverty line?”
Yes, it's true that there are plenty of folks that work at Walmart and live at the poverty level. But this is also true for many other large retailers and small mom and pop shops. So why is it that Walmart is the focal point?
Ashton Kutcher told Walmart that the company does a lot of great things but it needs to be a leader on this issue as well.
I want to know who decided that Kutcher was the one to dictate what Walmart should and shouldn't do? I'll tell you this, Walmart keeps a lot of people in this country employed and does its fair share of good deeds. Perhaps not to Kutcher's standards, but perhaps he should also consider how many “great things” he's doing before throwing stones.
Apparently, Ashton Kutcher's net worth is around $140 million.
Last year he bought this multi-million home:
And he wants to criticize Walmart for being insanely profitable, writing: "You had 17 billion in profits last year. You're a 260 billion$ company. What are we missing?"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying he should be doing anything different with his money. It's his. He earned it and should spend it as he pleases. As well, Kutcher is no stranger to good deeds.
The annoyingly handsome actor (I say this in jest) has helped build homes for the poor in Central America, he created a foundation that raises awareness about child sex slavery and has supported UNICEF, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Habitat for Humanity. And that's just a few examples.
But is that enough? After all, the guy lives in a ridiculous gorgeous million-dollar home, has an unbelievable gorgeous girlfriend (who speaks Russian, which makes her even hotter), and is worth $140 million.
Could he do more?
Is it anyone's business if he does or doesn't do more?
I don't think it is.
And if Kutcher really is concerned about all those folks working at Walmart that are scarping to get by (which I believe he is), he might just want to consider approaching the mammoth retailer and working with the company, using his celebrity status, to help Walmart continue its efforts to do good things.
Either way, I don't think Kutcher's intentions are anything but honorable. He actually seems like a pretty generous guy. And while Walmart does have to make a profit (which is not a bad thing), it also does plenty of honorable things, too.
Those honorable things should not be overshadowed by the fact that some of its employees don't make a whole lot of money. And those particular employees, I assure you, do not posses any unique skills that would warrant a bigger paycheck from Walmart, anyway. Walmart is a business, not a charity.
Understand, I don't say this to be unfeeling or mean-spirited. It's simply an observation of a reality that few are willing to talk about.
Earlier this year I remember some fast food workers demanding $15 an hour to flip burgers. That's insane. If burger-flippers make $15 an hour, where's the incentive to learn a valuable skill?
We just have to be realistic here.
Times are tough. Certainly a dollar doesn't go as far today as it did ten or twenty years ago. And it's only going to get worse.
Truth is, instead of criticizing Walmart for paying minimum wage, perhaps we should spend more time empowering our uneducated masses, not with an undeserved pay raise, but with opportunities to learn a necessary skill.
Worth noting: Three years ago Walmart committed $50 million to help its workers pay for school books and tuition.
Also worth noting: About 75 percent of the company's store managers began as hourly employees. Today, they earn between $50,000 and $170,000 a year.
Seems to me that Walmart provides some decent opportunities for its employees to advance. Taking advantage of those opportunities, however, falls on the individual.
To a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth. . .