Walmart botches its chance to smack Bernie Sanders and all his ignorant claims down

Bernie Sanders made a fool of himself, crashing the Walmart shareholders' meeting for political grandstanding purposes and then spewing ignorance about how publicly traded companies operate.

Unfortunately, Walmart humored him, doing itself no favors, given the damaging impact of believing anything he says about business.  He called for a minimum wage hike.  He made absurd claims about company ownership.  He mixed up revenues with profits, unable to distinguish between the two.  Yet instead of throwing him out as a stooge of the boobocracy, they nodded agreement, maybe hoping he'd go away.

Doesn't work that way with guys like Sanders, unfortunately.

Be that as it may, John Merline has a good one over at Issues & Insights laying out a vigorous defense of free markets.  His argument is the argument Walmart should have used instead of meekly going along with Sanders's ignorant 1930s-style tropes about capitalist pigs or whatever.  Here's just one passage from a lot of them:

Sanders goes on to talk about how big and profitable Walmart is, and "surely with all of that, Walmart can afford to pay its employees a living wage of at least $15."

He apparently doesn't understand the difference between revenues and profitability.

Walmart is the biggest company in the U.S. in terms of revenue, no question about it. But in terms of profitability, it ranks 40th on the Fortune 500 list. And on a per-employee basis, Walmart ranks 99th. Ironically, the company that has the highest profits per employee is Fannie Mae, which is a government-sponsored enterprise.

Measured against revenues, Walmart's profit margin is a tiny 1.3%. That's well below companies liberals love, like Starbucks (18.3%), Apple (22.4%), and Costco (2.2%).

So the idea that Walmart has piles of cash sitting around that it can shower on its workers while continuing to run as a profitable business is another ill-informed myth.

There's a lot of education in this piece about how companies work and how free markets work.  The people running Walmart blew their chance to educate the public about that and allowed the socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union to steamroll them.  They played Clark Kerr to Sanders's Mario Savio, and they look about as foolish as Kerr did back in those Berkeley 1960s radical years.  Merline did the company's job that it wouldn't do, and frankly, the shareholders owe him.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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