Friday Morning Open Thread

November 22, 2013

What’s up?

Talk about screwed up priorities. The conservative Heritage Foundation put out a report bemoaning the costs of non-teaching staff on taxpayers. Clearly, their children are not in public schools with classes of 30 or more children or require their own assistant, or suffer from severe health problems and have even lost their lives due to lack of resources for a school nurse. Seriously. Sometimes I wonder if these folks willingly put on the blinders or actually believe what they say?

In related news: I was excited to see actor Ashton Kutcher, who has more than 15 million twitter followers, take on Wal-Mart for their low wages especially in light of news that they are holding a canned food drive for some of their associates in Ohio. Here’s how the exchange went down, courtesy of Salon:

Kutcher (@aplusk) kicked off the dust-up by tweeting…“Walmart is your profit margin so important you can’t Pay Your Employees enough to be above the poverty line?”

Fourteen minutes later, the company’s @WalmartNewsroom account, echoing its replies to others on the topic, tweeted back at Kutcher, “It’s unfortunate that an act of human kindness has been taken so out of context. We’re proud of our associates in Canton.” After 10 minutes, Kutcher shot back, “you should be proud of your associates but I’m not sure if they should be proud of you.”

Wal-Mart then offered Kutcher a video on “Opportunity and Benefits at Walmart,” saying, “We know you believe in opportunity like we do & we’d love to talk to you more about it.”

Kutcher quickly countered, “you had 17 billion in profits last year. You’re a 260 billion$ company. What are we missing?”

That set off a trio of tweets from Wal-Mart, starting with, “We think you’re missing a few things,” and then touting that “The majority of our workforce is full-time and makes more than $25,000/year”; that “about 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates”; and that “every year, we promote about 160,000 people…”

Kutcher told Wal-Mart the company “does a lot of great things but it needs to be a leader on this issue as well.” In its final tweet to Kutcher – so far — Wal-Mart answered, “We know we can always get better as a company. This year we’ve made providing more opportunities for our associates a top priority.”

Kutcher returned to the topic an hour later, linking a blog post on a study estimating the cost of Wal-Mart workers’ use of public assistance, and saying “Walmart should be the leaders not the low water mark.”

I re-tweeted Kutcher on the last point and added this infographic on why Wal-Mart can and should give their low-wage employees pay raises. The stat that has always gotten me is the number of Walton family members who are billionaires even though they themselves did not come up with the idea for Wal-Mart nor are the ones making the company’s existence happen on a day-to-day basis.

Enough on that. What else is in the news? What’s up with you?