The only time I really have issues with Walmart is when they use the machinery of government to their advantage. They supported the ACA, for example, because it would benefit them. They’ve support eminent domain seizures in the past. Other than that, however, I really don’t understand the Walmart hatred. They provide cheaper products to the poor and middle class thanks to the economy of scale. They are known to hire people with little job experience of checkered pasts and give them a chance to move up. And, earlier this year, they announced a plan to hire 100,000 veterans and returning soldiers. Veterans have an unemployment rate that is a couple of ticks higher than the general population and could use a little bit of a boost.
This is a good thing, right? Giving entry-level jobs to people who’ve served our country? Well, it isn’t if you’re one of the biggest assholes on the planet:
Walmart’s recent announcement of a plan to hire returning honorably discharged veterans is more about public relations than honoring our heroes. That this effort was valorized by President Obama and Vice President Biden reflects an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America’s history or future.
We owe it to our returning veterans to make sure they are treated as the heroes they are, rather than as symbols used to “greenwash” Walmart’s eroding brand. After facing enemies abroad, is an $8.81 an hour part-time job the best we can offer returning veterans?
Already, working families and our economy are struggling against an epidemic of low-paying, low-benefit, part-time work. Instead of legitimizing that trend, we need to treat the talents of our veterans—and of all of America’s people—as a critical national resource.
We need businesses in this country to step up and make family-sustaining jobs available to returning veterans. Previous generations of heroes returned from overseas service to critical jobs in manufacturing, construction and public service, jobs that enabled veterans to help build the nation and support families. With the right policies, including those in President Obama and Vice President Biden’s American Jobs Act, we can live up to the standards of our past and empower our veterans for the future.
That’s Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, in case you didn’t recognize his style about three sentences in.
Yeah, it would be great if we had waiting jobs in factories for returning soldiers (although it bears noting that after World War II, a lot of those jobs were created by women leaving the workforce to become housewives again). But we don’t have that. We have an economy that is slowly creeping along thanks in part to the policies supported by Trumka’s allies and the debt-busting spending they have engaged in to try to “create jobs”. To the extent that manufacturing jobs have recovered it is because of innovation and improving living standards in foreign countries.
I would love for every veteran to come back to a $25 an hour job building solar panels. I would also love it if, every month, I were given two comely lasses of virtue true. But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world were over 10% of honorably discharged veterans are unemployed. We live in a world where long-term unemployment is crippling: many employers simply throw out the resumes of those who’ve been unemployed for a couple of years. $8.81 an hour may not sound like a lot to Richard Trumka (current salary about $283,000 a year). But for someone looking to get a leg up into the job market and build up some experience, it could be a godsend.