The world’s largest retailer is also the world’s largest recipient of corporate welfare. The Associated Press reported in March that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved federal highway legislation that includes $37 million in subsidies to widen the roadway in Bentonville that leads to Wal-Mart’s private corporate headquarters from two to five lanes, and connect it to an interstate. Wal-Mart asked for the taxpayer’s welfare by lobbying Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark) to help fund the project. The bill also had an assist from Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) who amended the highway bill to make sure the Wal-Mart piece was in it. A Wal-Mart spokesman admitted that the retailer wanted Eighth Street improved so its workers would have an easlier time getting to work. The company made the argument that its workforce has grown much faster than the capacity of the local roadway to handle the traffic. “We have people living all over the area,” Wal-Mart told the AP. “Infrastructure in northwest Arkansas is a big issue for us. This would represent another east-west corridor connected to the interstate, which would benefit everybody.” The $284 billion highway bill is expected to come before the U.S. Senate in April. The Wal-Mart $37 million was apparently a last-minute add on to the bill. Once again, working Americans come to the aid of Wal-Mart.
Sprawl-Busters urges readers to contact their U.S. Senators and ask them to amend the $284 billion highway bill by deleting any reference to the $37 million subsidy for the Wal-Mart headquarters roadway in Bentonville. If Wal-Mart needs wider roads leading to its headquarters, let the company respond in the same way it does when it says its customers need wider aisles in its stores: move to larger quarters with better infrastructure. In fact, rather than hit up American taxpayers, Wal-Mart should do what the rest of the company has done — outsource its administrative offices to a third world location. Why not move Wal-Mart headquarters to India, and hire locals there to do the work of Wal-Mart at a cheaper rate? It’s consistent with the price-driven mission of Wal-Mart. Forget about widening U.S. roads, move your headquarters to where the future action will really be — China. In the meantime, Congress should not ask the U.S. taxpayer to foot a $37 million bill for a company that had more than $288 billion in sales last year