In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.
This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.
A note on methodology: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents, and other factors. This estimate of Walmart’s potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.
“Each year, the federal government hands approximately $10 billion over to the richest 1% of Americans — mainly to rich retirees — according to an IBD analysis of data on various federal transfer programs.”
— “The Richest 1% Get $10 Billion A Year From Uncle Sam”, Investor’s Business Daily
There are 120 million households in the US, so let’s just say that the 1% is 1.2 million households. Diving $10 billion by 1.2 million and you get $8,333 in average yearly payouts to each ultra-rich household.
Compare this to the fact that the average yearly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, e.g., food stamps) annual benefit is $3,300 year.
Before we start cutting food stamps, we should start means testing Social Security and Medicare.
In September of 2010, I travelled to Mumbai and New Delhi with twenty fellow MBA students to learn more about India’s financial markets. I took this photo out of the back of an air-conditioned tour bus in Mumbai. Near as I can tell, she was unattended. This photo haunts me because I think it illustrates how easy it is to ignore all of the things that we find unpleasant and difficult. I remember asking one of the finance ministers about the state of banking in India and he remarked that the vast majority of Indians had good access to financial services. I countered, postulating that micro-finance seemed to be an awfully big topic for a country that apparently didn’t need it. He replied, “Oh, you mean that India. See, there are two Indias. There’s India, which is the 100 million people you’ve spent the last few days with. They have good access to banking. And then there’s Bharat, which is the traditional Sanskrit word for India. That’s the other billion. They don’t have access to banking.”
This is Dr. Becker, and I’m in a classroom at the University of Cape Town. She’s a physician who has been fighting HIV and AIDS in South Africa for years. There are two things that this image reminds me of. First, she’s incredibly passionate and moved by her work… she’s a real scientist who is doing incredible work for good and it’s clear how it is incredibly fulfilling for her. Second, it was clear to us that many of the problems she was facing weren’t medical, but operational/marketing/logistics/social. In other words, she needed more of the people in that classroom to be there in her field and the truth is that it’s hard to get post-MBAs to do anything like that.