Friday, August 31, 2012

Mitt's great lie

Marcy Wheeler made a tremendous catch. During his speech, Mitt Romney pretended to empathize with workers who, fired from their decent-paying jobs, have to make do with $9 an hour employment. Yet earlier in the evening, Thomas Stemberg -- the founder of Staples, the office supply store -- bragged about his partnership with Romney:
The truth is Mitt was not a typical investor. He was a true partner. Where some saw an unproven new business, he saw a store that could save people money. He recognized that efficiency creates consumer value...
Note that word: "Efficiency." That's a euphemism. It means low wages for workers.

Marcy looked it up: Staples pays most of its people well under nine bucks an hour.

I have no doubt that Staples employees, like Wal-Mart employees, are paid so little that they cannot afford proper health insurance. In the case of Wal-Mart, experts have determined that raising compensation to a living wage of $12 an hour -- and passing every cent on to the consumer -- would result in the average shopping trip costing only 46 cents more.

Does anyone believe that the figures would be very different at Staples?

But Stemberg and Romney would never consider going that route. Paying workers a living wage is not efficient.

Moreover, Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, is an Ayn Randroid -- which means he wants to cut or eliminate the minimum wage. And remember: During the primaries, all of the Republicans were very clear about wanting to raise taxes on the working poor while lowering taxes for "job creators" like Romney at Stemberg.

In his speech, Mitt Romney asked Americans to believe that he'll fight to restore the middle class. That one great lie was more brazen than any of the whoppers told by Paul Ryan.
Seriously, only the one lie?

And as for Walmart, that 46 cents per shop, is one hell of a lot of profit.

Oh the joys of leverage..

Well, Obama asked Americans to believe in Home and Change and got votes. So why not believe Romney will restore the Middle Class. Sucker born every minute.
There's a nice piece by Robert Shetterly on minimum wage at Common Dreams today...

"If the minimum wage had kept pace with the rise in executive salaries since 1990, America's poorest paid workers would be making more than $23 an hour"
Looking at the Staples Employee Benefits website, I note that they offer medical, vision, and dental not only to their full-time employees, but to their part-time employees as well. Staples' average retail employee compensation ($8.48/hr) is roughly comparable to its primary competitors:
OfficeMax ($8.28/hr) and Office Depot ($8.14/hour) (all figures from In fact, it's slightly better.

OfficeMax only offers benefits to fulltime employees (not part-time, like Staples).

The Office Depot benefit site does not appear to be publicly accessible.

So, Staples pays more and offers better benefits than its competitors.

That pay is piss-poor no matter how you slice it, but I would submit that unilaterally increasing pay in a low-margin business like retail office supplies (particularly when you're already paying more than your competitors) is probably a going-out-of-business strategy.

Oh, almost forgot: Staples provides benefits for same-sex domestic partners, too.

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