WalMart and Corporate Welfare
I don't always agree with Capital Times columnist Mike Ivey, but I do today. He writes about WalMart's appetite for corporate welfare:
Wisconsin's largest employer draws more in corporate welfare than it pays in state taxes. Wal-Mart pocketed $852 million in net profits in Wisconsin off value-hungry consumers between 2000 and 2003. Over that same period, Wal-Mart paid only $3 million in corporate income tax here. That's a tax rate of 0.35 percent, a fraction of the 7.9 percent rate corporations doing business in our fair state are supposed to pay.
Pardon my West High math, but if Wal-Mart paid the going tax rate here it would have owed closer to $67 million. The Arkansas-based retailer has benefited from more than $20 million in public economic benefits in Wisconsin, according to one national study. Good Jobs First reported in 2004 that Wal-Mart stores and distribution centers in Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Menomonie, Milwaukee and Tomah received at least $21.75 million in local tax subsidies, the report says.
I'm a fan of WalMart and I applaud their efforts to bring lower prices to shoppers. But what they're doing in Wisconsin is neither "capitalism" nor "free enterprise". It's looting, pure and simple. The local governments that decided to give tax money -- taken from individuals -- to a big business should be vilified, demonized, and run out off office on a rail.