For untold millions, Walmart is not simply a place to shop, but the place. Considering that the quintessential big-box retailer claims to, and often does, offer just about every conventional item necessary for the family at an affordable price, this should be none too surprising. However, at what cost does this convenience come, and in the grander scheme of things, is what Walmart has to offer really convenience at all? The company’s ownership would most definitely say so, as would throngs of eager consumers. Many economists, social scientists, and former employees, though, have a strikingly different opinion. While one can choose to believe whichever side of the argument he or she likes best, where do the facts lie?
First and foremost, it should be known that every single American taxpayer is essentially footing the bill for Walmart’s mere existence. According to Reuters, this is because, as a study published last year by the City University of New York’s Hunter College Center for Community Planning showed, company employees receive inadequate health insurance coverage and in turn are left with few other options than to apply for public assistance. Beyond providing a lack of medical benefits, Walmart’s presence in most regions, says the study, "Depresses area wages....pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies."
Across New York City, especially in the borough of Brooklyn, a groundswell of activism has resulted in widespread hostility toward any Walmarts breaking ground. Such a pressing issue has accomplished a rare feat: putting businesses, public officeholders and private citizens on the same side of an argument.
Speaking to Reuters, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has referred to the opening of a Walmart as being a "Trojan horse." He went on to say that though Walmart is, "Appealing to a lot of families who are hurting....it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs." Mark Tanis, the proprietor of a local shopping center, is more blunt, "[Walmart] would be a disaster. It would have a detrimental impact on our area." Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo questioned the validity of their concerns, claiming that the establishment of Walmarts around New York City would bring economic revival and better opportunities for grocery shopping. The Walmart corporate apparatus believes that the Center for Community Planning report which lent credence to many New Yorkers' fears is based upon "randomly selected statements from....flawed studies."