Big Box, Big Welfare | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

News » Letters

Big Box, Big Welfare


1 comment

It is long past time to quit parroting the Reagan-era falsehoods about welfare recipients being lazy individuals cheating the system out of a few extra thousand dollars. And we better start doing something about the real cheats who get hundreds of million dollars out of taxpayers.

Take for example the Waltons—not the fictional TV Depression-era family—but the six heirs of the Walmart fortune. These six individuals control $69.7 billion; this equals the wealth of the entire bottom 30 percent of the population of the United States, or about 95 million people (according to Joseph Stigletz in The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future). So, let’s look at how they got such wealth:

State subsidies to Walmart and other big-box outlets reach into the tens of millions and more in every state. In reading what I include next, I hope you get angry, get involved and demand straight answers and total transparency from your alleged representatives. Further, I hope that you alter your shopping habits.

For example, it is reported at—a national policy group that promotes corporate and government accountability—that here in Utah, Walmart is allowed to keep $2 million of the sales taxes it collects from customers. Every winter, the “drones” at the “hive” insist Utah must cut education funding because there is not enough money. Well, maybe Walmart is a good place to start. Other big-boxes stores, if not already getting this break, will no doubt demand and get similar deals from local and state officials in the name of “fairness” (to them, not us). Utah is not the only state letting them keep portions of sales taxes they collect from customers; according to a 2008 video on Democracy Now!, this citizen shakedown is called “tax increment incentives.”

These community wreckers use these demands as extortion leverage: “Give us these tax breaks, and we will come to (or stay in) your community.” That would be the same community whose business base was destroyed upon their arrival—a double hit to local tax revenues: the local businesses that were paying taxes are lost and the big-box stores that ran them out of business are exempted from paying for the public services supplied to them with a now-diminished public-revenue stream. Sounds like undeserving welfare cheats to me!

Other big-box welfare freebies include lowered (or, in some cases, exemption from) property taxes and other sweetheart deals that directly rob the public coffers of needed revenues. And to date, also according to, 16 states allow these same big-box welfare kings to keep state taxes deducted from the paychecks of their workers without their knowledge. This tax money—believed by the low-wage earners at these outlets to be going toward public schools, roads and the public health services they must use because they can’t afford the company’s crappy, overpriced health-insurance plan—is instead funneled directly into the accounts of the CEOs of Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Kmart and others.

Yes, I agree that the undeserving should be taken off welfare! Let’s start with ending this “big box/big heist.”

And I doubt major media can report this because much of their revenue is from advertising for these very same corporations. The threat of losing this source is enough to ensure media silence.

So, City Weekly, it looks like you are the only free agent to tackle this.

Clee Paul Ames


Showing 1-1 of 1


Add a comment