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WAL-MART COMPLAINS, LABOR FEELS THE PAIN
Does the world's largest retailer, with revenues of half a trillion dollars in 2012, with profits of $16 billion, whose family owners possess the astonishing wealth equal to that of the entire bottom 42 percent of American families (that's 49 million families, folks) really, truly need protection from unions? The National Labor Relations Board sure seems to think so; yesterday it upheld a petition filed by Wal-Mart to block the United Food & Commercial Workers from picketing outside its stores. The 60-day picketing moratorium stems from claims that the union lingered for more than 30 days without filing for recognition, but history suggests this is just another action in a litany of pathologically anti-labor moves by the retail kingpin.
The decision was likely in retaliation for an uptick in organizing in past months by fed-up employees, including protests by workers at dozens of stores on last November's sacrosanct Black Friday. When a Wal-Mart in Quebec successfully unionized in 2004, the company promptly shuttered the store and fired all 190 employees. Even with its heady revenues, Wal-Mart's profits were still down nearly 5 percent last year. Perhaps shareholders should follow Robert Reich's advice, embrace unions and a living wage, and make do with a smaller piece of a rapidly growing pie—instead of a huge piece of a pie that's only bound to get smaller.
CHART OF THE DAY
Economist Arthur Pigou suggested long ago that if an activity (like driving) has undesirable consequences (like congestion) then a good way to cut down on the badness is to tax it. Here in the United States, we've decided we'd rather have the cheap gas. Still, many contemporary economists have endorsed the gas tax as a way to cut pollution and congestion—and to discourage gas-guzzling SUVs. A tax on fuel, however, could disproportionately hurt middle- and lower-income Americans who rely on their cars to get around. Infrastructure spending could help these people out and "boost growth" according to President Obama.
REASON TO GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING
We try to resist this kind of stuff—really we do. You don't know how many funny cat videos we've passed over, thinking to ourselves, "You can do better than this." Well, we can't do it any longer. The cats have finally won. Savor our defeat with the incredible cats running on treadmills!
The Balance Sheet is produced daily by The American Prospect and compiled today by Jeff Saginor and Bryce Stucki. You may unsubscribe at any time; doing so will not unsubscribe you from the Prospect's newsletter. You can also update your newsletter subscription preferences by going here.
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