One of the most consistent defenses of Walmart is that it has succeeded because it simply delivered what customers wanted and that if you don’t like it, just don’t shop there. But Firedoglake has a great piece up this week that explains how even the non-Walmart shoppers are not only affected by Walmart, but are actually paying in many ways to subsidize it:

The brutal truth is that Wal-Mart is profiting in the midst of misery because of policies that, like those of the financial services industry, fueled the nation’s economic disaster. While banks rolled up and peddled collateralized debt packages like cheap tuna wraps, Wal-Mart’s assault on America’s economy came from another angle: Everyday low wages. By paying the vast majority of its workers little more than the minimum wage and offering health care plans most can’t afford, Wal-Mart shifted its corporate expenses to taxpayers.

So, two things happened: Workers sank into debt-mortgages, tuition loans, credit cards-unable to support families on such low wages, and states were force to channel precious resources to full-time workers whose employer should have paid them enough to afford private health care. Now with state budgets collapsing, 1 million people are expected to lose state-funded health care-many of them, undoubtedly, Wal-Mart workers.

In other words, because of their low working standards we as a nation are having to pick up the slack that they leave off, which in turns lets them get away with paying lower and lower wages because they know their workers have a safety  net to fall back on.