The Phony “Walmart Is Good for Poor People” Meme

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There is a meme floating around, it is a Freeper meme but you often hear well meaning liberals spout it too.  The meme goes something like this:  “Sure, Walmart pays shitty wages, and working conditions are shitty, but on the plus side their low prices are good for poor people.”

First of all, yes it sounds reasonable like all good propaganda, but it is based upon a false stereotype.  The stereotypical Walmart shopper is seen as a poor person.   This is not true as you can see in table 5 of this study from the University of California Berkeley

where it is shown that 73 per cent of gross sales at Walmart are to people with annual incomes of $30,000 plus.

Yes it is the middle class and the wealthy class that account for 3/4 of Walmart’s income, not the poor!  The middle class and the wealthy class have the disposable income, the disposable time, and the available transportation to bargain shop.   For them, a shiny new Walmart is a new “choice.”  Within a few years of course, due to Walmart’s predatory saturationist business model, the shopping choices in the community become fewer and fewer.

The poor don’t have much disposable income, little time (they are juggling two jobs) and many of them walk or take the bus to shop.  The poor shop where they can, they don’t have time or transportation to bargain shop.

But if we are to believe that lower prices are really good for poor people who shop at Walmart, we would have to accept the hidden condition as true that the quality of the goods that the poor are acquiring cheaply are equal in value to the more expensive goods elsewhere.  Isn’t that a leap of faith?

Consider that I have in my toolbox a hammer that was manufactured in Vermont, USA around 60 years ago.  It’s a quality tool, steel head and hardwood (ash) handle.  Not high tech.  It has enough nicks in it to give it character but it is entirely serviceable.  If I  keep it from rusting (and whoever inherits it from me keeps it from rusting) it will probably be serviceable for another 50 years.  Plus the handle is replaceable.

But let’s say I am a poor person who needs a hammer.  I walk into Walmart and buy a Chinese hammer for $20.   Maybe if I could find a Vermont hammer it might cost me $50, who knows?   All I know is if a $50 hammer will last me 100 years, then a $20 hammer better last me 40 years, or I am a poor person who is getting screwed and deceived.

Or say I want a pair of blue jeans.  How much money am I saving if the $15 Walmart jeans fall apart in three months?

What do you think?  Has quality remained constant?  Or is ignoring  this quality variable  just clever right wing Freeper propaganda?


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