BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS — “We are pleased to announce that over 500,000 of our hardest working employees are going to get the wage hike that they so richly deserve,” was how Ralph Maiff, a junior level executive for WalMart started the press conference in front of his employer’s corporate headquarters.
“To take people from living on sub-sub-poverty wages to plain old poverty just warms our hearts to no end,” said Maiff.
2014 Federal poverty guidelines put a family of four making $23,850 at the poverty line. Before the wage hike, the employees making $9 an hour would earn roughly $18,720, if they work full-time. This meant that they were living roughly $5000 a year below the poverty line. But, says Maiff, now those employees will earn roughly $20,800 annually, meaning they’re “only just below the poverty line by $3000.” Maiff says Wal-Mart considers that “quite a generous gift to the people off whose backs we profit in the billions.”
Maiff says the wage hikes will “give quite a significant lift” to Wal-Mart’s employees and that “we feel this should make everyone see that a company that raked in over $120 billion in profits last year isn’t automatically run by greedy people.” Maiff insists, “raising these salaries will come at a cost to Wal-Mart” though when pressed by a reporter to indicate just how much of those multi-billion dollar profits would be impacted by raising the wages of 500,000 workers by roughly 11% a year Maiff shied away from specifics. “Let’s just say our board members may not be able to buy all three of the vacation homes they’d planned to,” said Maiff.
A reporter asked Maiff if Wal-Mart committing $20 million more in base wages was really that magnanimous a gesture when that represents less than even 1% of their profits of last year. Maiff considered the question for a moment and then asked the reporter, “Are you from the liberal media or something? Clearly you’re not getting it.”
“A super-wealthy corporation has decided to give over half a million people one more dollar per hour they work. Sure, we do everything we can to keep our employees working less than full-time hours so we also don’t have to pay for health insurance, but that’s not the point,” said Maiff. The point, according to him, is that his bosses “didn’t have to do it” but they “did it because they wanted to show they have a heart. So they shaved off a tiny, little infinitesimal amount off their own bottom lines and threw it to the plebes.” Maiff then asked the reporters indignantly, “How can you not be lining up to kiss our asses over this?”
One reporter from The Seattle Times and Coffee Coupon Book told Maiff that last year the average price of a home in the United States was roughly $188,000 which means Wal-Mart could have decided to buy each of the 500,000 employees who are getting the one dollar an hour raise a home for a little more — $200,000 — and still have over twenty billion dollars left in profit. “You’re not suggesting we just hand over $100 billion are you,” demanded Maiff. The reporter told him that she was just trying to point out that the scale of the actual increase is much smaller once you start digging into the numbers. “Yeah, well, keep your dirty socialist mitts off our profits, lady,” was Maiff’s response.
Another reporter asked Mr. Maiff if Wal-Mart truly believed that giving these 500,000 employees a raise of just one dollar an hour would make them any less dependent on the social safety net than they were the previous year when the increase will only net them another $160 a week. “Uh, this isn’t Communist Russia, pal,” Maiff chided the reporter, “We don’t have to be concerned with whether the taxpayers are subsidizing our sub-poverty wage business model. We just have to be concerned with not looking too much like the money-worshiping corporatists that we are.”
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Maiff concluded the press conference by taking one last question from a Fox Business reporter, who asked him if he wanted to say anything to the workers who “would benefit so very greatly” from the “stunning charity it takes to give away less than one percent of your profits.” Maiff seemed pleased to be asked the question, and he looked right into the cameras before making his statement.
“Yes, I would,” he began. “First and foremost — you’re all welcome. Secondly, stop watching this and get back to work. Those shelves aren’t going to stock themselves. Oh, and don’t forget to send in your registration forms for SNAP and WIC.” Maiff then thanked the reporters, got into his luxury SUV and drove away, hundred dollar bills spewing out of the exhaust.
You can follow James on Twitter @JamesSchlarmann.