Walmart--where to begin? How about with all the mom-and-pop stores it's put out of business? How about brand-named items like cell phones only made for Walmart, but cheaply crafted? Or, that it's the definition of a monopoly in action that we all know is against the law for the very reason that "one company cannot have exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices," which is the actual definition of a monopoly in dictionary.com. In Walmart's case, it has exclusive control over plural commodities and services, and the prices of those are so low it makes competition nearly impossible.
We can buy just about anything at Walmart! Name it and it's either on the stores' shelves already or can be there overnight through Walmart.com. The company is so large and makes so much money that "the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, controls a fortune equal to the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined," as stated by the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now and verified by Politifact Wisconsin. Since 1970, Walmart has been a publicly-traded company, but the Walton family still owns half its shares.
According to Forbes, as of May 2013, Walmart had $469 billion in sales and 2.2 million employees, with1.3 million of them working in the United States. In yet another way to rake in the cash, the corporation makes even more money by hiring employees from third-world countries and then pays its workers here low wages. In December 2012, PolitiFact National rated as Mostly True the claim that more Walmart employees are on Medicaid and food stamps than any other company. Then there is Super Walmart that exists in every city along with regular Walmarts in the same cities, many of which are open 24 hours.
Walmart has the lowest prices on products and services than just about anywhere. You have to go to a third-world country to find products and services for less, which makes sense considering that's where the products are made. Remember when Walmart claimed it ONLY sold Made inAmerica products in the early 1990s? And some products were, for a little while anyway, but it didn't take long before the label to tell us it was really Made in China.
What many people don't realize, however, is that while you think you're buying a Samsung cell phone from Walmart and it's a good brand, Samsung ONLY makes the phone you buy at Walmart for Walmart and it's CRAP! Walmart tells manufacturers that if they are going to sell their wares at their chain, they must sell it to them at an extremely reduced bulk price. For these companies to adhere to this demand--and the companies know many people shop at Walmart for EVERYTHING now, including. My God, even food--they must cut corners when making their phones just to make a profit.
With our economy in shambles still, it's become irresistible for the majority of us NOT to shop at Walmart today. I could be a "conspiracy theorist" and suggest it was designed by the powers that be who knew our economy would tank and put large stock in Walmart so they would make more money when it did. But wait, while I joke about it, that is exactly what happened.
The 2008 financial crisis/housing-market crash in which people lost not only their homes, but their savings, 401ks, businesses, automobiles, and suffered long un- and under employment was well-known would happen for several years prior among Wall-Streeters. Their shady and ongoing negligent, barely-legal, if legal, trading practices, along with deregulation and lax laws ensured it would happen. Housing took a great hit when the crisis finally hit in part because of the increased number of financial agreements called mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO), which were valued from mortgage payments and housing prices. This enabled stock investors and banking institutions and investors around the world to invest in the US housing market, and as housing prices declined, major global financial institutions that had borrowed and invested heavily in subprime lending, MBS and CDOs began to receive significant losses.
They knew the market would be unsustainable in the made-to-make-wealth environment created for the few. They knew selling subprime lending (mortgage schemes) and bad stock (debt) bundled in with other stock and illegally rated it as good stock options that were then pushed to sell would fail. The subprime mortgages and ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) were estimated in 2007 would crash in 2008 because of loan defaults. Of course, this would happen when they sold home after home to people who they knew couldn't afford the payment on a mortgage that after one year when the ARM adjusted and the payment jumped. Many homes were sold to people who had bad credit and no jobs because their finances weren't even investigated! So while the soul-suckers may not have known the bubble would burst in September, they knew it couldn't survive another year. The rising default rates on the subprime mortgage lending and ARMs had already begun to quickly increase, so they did one last thing before it burst--they invested in trading the debt itself!
The amoral soulless stock-market traders didn't care that people would lose everything because they were set. They knew the government would have to bail them out in order to prevent a worldwide depression greater than that the crash of 1929 and the devastation that consumed the 1930s.
While big banks and Wall Street were bailed out with trillions of taxpayer dollars, the consumers were not. And still Wall Street traders were paid and the CEOs still received their millions in annual bonuses along with other "top company earners." Meanwhile, the average person in the US and around the world suffered and is still suffering today.
This is where Wallmart comes into play even stronger than before September 2008. When people have lost so much, they can no longer be choosey with where they shop. They need something and they need to get it at the lowest price, regardless that in the long-run, which really isn't too long, they will have to buy the product again since what they bought at Walmart that was made for Walmart will likely break twice as fast if it were bought elsewhere.
Our standards have been lowered, and not by choice! There is an ongoing foreclosure epidemic with historically low levels as of early 2014, which drained significant wealth from consumers--up to $4.2 trillion in wealth from home equity alone. Defaults and losses on other loan types also increased significantly as the crisis expanded from the housing market to other parts of the economy. There are only estimates in the trillions that the US and the World lost as a result of this global crisis.
These losses have affected the ability of financial institutions to lend and have slowed economic activity, growth. And the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission reported its findings in January 2011 that
The crisis was avoidable and caused by systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.
So, in a sense, Walmart just rode the crisis wave to higher earnings. The Walton family have made more money since the crash. Six of Walmart Founder Sam Waltons descendants have continued to grow their earnings. According to Forbes, here are their rankings and their wealth:
No. 6 Christy Walton (daughter-in-law), $35.4 billion; No. 7: Jim Walton (son), $33.8 billion; No. 8: Alice Walton (daughter), $33.5 billion; No. 9: S. Robson Walton (son), $33.3 billion; No. 95: Ann Walton Kroenke (niece), $4.7 billion; and No. 110: Nancy Walton Laurie (niece), $4 billion. The total Walton family wealth: $144.7 billion.
The medium American earns around $73,500 annually, which as a medium and not an average, half the people's earnings go down from there! So the vicious cycle continues. The less we earn, the more we shop at Walmart and they more they earn.