How Wealthy is Walmart’s Walton Family? Just Take a Look at This

1503632_10152100493227489_1519264674_nMaybe it’s just how I was brought up, but I believe when you live in a modern society you’re held to some level of social responsibility.  And while I never begrudge anyone who achieves great success or wealth, I do believe that when someone achieves this within a society, they to have a responsibility to that society.

There might be no greater example of that than Walmart, which is the world’s largest private employer.  It’s a company that comes under great scrutiny here in the United States for what many, myself included, call a sub-standard level of pay for their employees — which ends up forcing many of them onto government programs even while working full-time for the company.

Which is ironic considering Republicans often slam those who rely on government assistance.  Yet here we have a company like Walmart, paying its employees such a low wage that even while “gainfully employed” they’re still forced to use government programs.

Well, in a recent statement, a liberal group made the accusation that the Walton family controls a fortune equal to that of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.  A statement Politifact rated as “True” — their best rating, which means the facts back up the statement completely with no gray area whatsoever.

Staggering, isn’t it?

Politifact then went a step further and pulled numbers from a Forbes list of the richest Americans, which came up with this:

No. 6: Christy Walton (daughter-in-law), $35.4 billion

No. 7: Jim Walton (son), $33.8 billion

No. 8: Alice Walton (daughter), $33.5 billion

No. 9: S. Robson Walton (son), $33.3 billion

No. 95: Ann Walton Kroenke (niece), $4.7 billion

No. 110: Nancy Walton Laurie (niece), $4 billion

To add that up for you, those six people are worth a total of around $144.7 billion — or as much as the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.

Who in their right mind really believes it’s a good thing for this country that six people (from the same family, no less) have more wealth than tens of millions of Americans combined?

There’s always a lot of talk from Republicans about “overthrowing our government” and a second revolution.  Well, I’ll promise you this — if we continue to allow just a handful of people in this country to control the vast majority of the wealth, that is how you’ll start a second revolution.

This level of top-down economics isn’t sustainable and eventually will boil over.  Which is exactly where we’re headed as long as we continue to support economic policies that are based on the notion that people like the Waltons need more while the poorest among us need less.

Because that’s exactly what Republicans support — cuts to federal programs that help the poor and needy while advocating deeper tax cuts for the richest among us.

It’s an economic model that’s been an overwhelming failure for 98 percent of Americans while benefitting only the richest 2 percent of us, and we can’t continue to stand for it much longer.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

Comments

Facebook comments

  • Jim Bean

    And where is all that wealth? Is it snatched away from the American people and stashed under their mattresses? Or is most of it invested in stores and equipment and merchandise that create consumer opportunities and jobs for the American people? And isn’t the remainder in a bank somewhere where it is being lent to the American people to buy homes and autos everything else they couldn’t acquire without someone to lend them money. Doesn’t their lavish life style (cars, mansions, planes, expensive clothes, jewelry, high-end eateries) provide countless employment opportunities for the American people? Who, pray tell, is a bigger driver of our economy than the Waltons? And with all that wealth at their disposal, who would conclude that they are driven by greed to amass even more?

    • bln143

      the sad, and true, fact that is most disturbing is that their employees, although employed, are not paid enough to avoid government assistance! they even put shopping carts in their stores asking other employees and the shopping public to donate food items to their employees that cannot afford to purchase food themselves!! there is something wrong and degrading with this picture!

      • Jim Bean

        I agree. But its still inescapable that the Walton’s money is active somewhere in this economy and when you remove it from *that* place and put it in another place, *that* place will see an economic downturn.

      • Reynard Vulpes

        What makes you think the Waltons are keeping their money here, and ACTIVE?

        They and others of the filthy rich who did NOT earn that money like the rest of us do, are contributing to the slowing economy by slowing the money in circulation.

        They are now being catered to by a few luxury producers that are NOT providing all that many jobs.

        Most high ticket items are being bought over seas.

        Check how many boatyards have closed in the past three decades.

        Jewelry of high price does NOT originate in the U.S. all that much. Rubies are still being mined by kids in cold mountain streams in Burma-Thailand as they have been for centuries, with accompanying pneumonia deaths as the price they pay, and the Waltons and others like them support.

        The goods they get for resale are made in sweat shops. Grim dangerous conditions that take many lives early.

        The practice of riding business on the backs of already poor people, as here in the U.S. must stop.

        I do NOT wish to pay for their workers welfare. Nor should you. But I also do not want them to starve and want for basics either, as they do.

        So my solution has to do with taxing the super rich. Pretty damn simple really.

      • Jim Bean

        I’m on board with everything you say except the last sentence. The more you tax them, the more money they shift to off-shore havens and investments. The more you demand in wages, the more they look to automation and off-shore labor. You need something more sophisticated than just yanking the lollipop from the baby.

      • Cathryn Sykes

        Let’s see. Remove it from those relative few who serve the needs of the ultra rich and put it in the pockets of those hundreds of thousands of employees who buy things made by millions of employees at thousands of companies. Yep, the mega-yacht industry might shrink a mite. The corporate jet companies’ head honchos might have to forgo some bonuses. The Dom Perignon company might lose some market share. Cry me a river.

    • Fr. Mark Poirier

      A great argument. Tell it to the nillions of people working in Walmart jobs at or near minimum wage. The number, as I undetetand it, is net worth, which would not include fixtues, inventory, etc. I would be willing to bet thatvery little od their assets are sitting in American banks for the benefit of others.

      • Pipercat

        It’s sitting various investment accounts that bounce around with other investment accounts. Most of their wealth is in the form of equity in Walmart. That’s the part that doesn’t trickle anywhere, but floats around in various speculative markets. Good news, it’s all a bubble. Bad news, that’s when trickle down occurs; after the party is over.

    • dick jizzle

      What good is having the banks hold it for the American people, if they can’t get loans to buy cars, much less buy a decent home if they can’t afford the payments. Just who in your words is driving this economy ??

      • Jim Bean

        Consumers and the tools they use (Walmart) drive the economy. Right now, they’re driving China’s economy much more vigorously than ours. You own anything that wasn’t made in this country?

    • Green_Devil

      You miss the point. They are able to accrue many of those things because they pay their workers so poorly and that these workers then have to go on government assistance. So rather than the Waltons paying their employees, we’re paying them through our taxes and by extension, footing the bill for the Waltons’ extravagant lives.

      • Jim Bean

        Those workers don’t have to work there. They can go start a Railroad or open a chain of stores. I don’t admire their (Walton’s) greed, I’m just not caught up in the envy and self-pity thing. I didn’t do everything I could have to get rich during my life, and therefore, I don’t feel cheated because I’m not.

      • Kokonaut

        Your comment belies the assumption that there are other places available for these individuals to work. Arguments about jobs being the first proverbial rung on the ladder are attempts to deflect what is the underlying problem. If you are working full time, you should be able to afford a basic standard of living. Subsidizing low wages through public assistance is deplorable.

        Equating this issue to be relegated to the politics of envy and self-pity is ridiculous and an attempt at intellectual character assassination. The bottom line is that taxpayers end up picking up the slack when wealthy corporations shirk their responsibility to pay a fair wage. If the Waltons do not want to increase the amount they pay their workers, perhaps they can repay the money in public assistance that they owe due to the government instead.

      • getoffmylawn

        Spoken like someone who has never witnessed, or is willfully ignorant, of the immense damage done by the big box stores when they move into a small to medium sized town. Entire central business districts shut down stranding thousands of locals who have no choice but to go to work at near slave wages. Walmart sell cheep crap from China, stealing billions from the economy. That’s a huge reason you see the middle class now stagnated.

      • Jim Bean

        The cheap crap from China improves the quality of life for millions of people by providing them with products they could never afford if they were union made in the good old USA. Look at autos. Cost half as much as a house and a worth next to nothing in ten years.

      • getoffmylawn

        Another false strawman, Jim. You’re good at that. I mean, compare a durable good to a consumer good, to real estate with no rational tie. Tell me…do you just camp out here hoping to start an argument, or do you have a purpose in life?

      • Jim Bean

        I disagree with the strawman analogy. The definition of ‘poverty stricken’ now includes people who own flat screen TV’s and computers and cell phones. Those people are able to posses these things only because of cheap foreign labor and the likes of Walmart who bring those products to their hometown. Their standard of living is improved immensely. Clothing is another area where the less well to do benefit enormously. When Unions demanded and received generous wages and benefits, what happened? Employers replaced them with machines and imports. Forget about whether or not that is morally reprehensible. It is what it is and the only solutions that have a chance of working are those that accept what it is and that put emotional peculiarities to the side. (Recommended reading: ‘Grapes of Wrath’. It will change your perspective of ‘poverty’ and introduce you to truly poor folks who would have worshiped the Waltons.)

      • getoffmylawn

        Jeez, Jim, can you make an argument without some racially charged slur? Poverty only includes flat panel TVs and cell phones in the fantasies of conservatives who watch too much Fox News where bigots hurl those slurs 24/7. The HHS 2013 poverty line for a 4 person family is $23,000. The average WalMart employee makes about $21,000 to $22,000. Most of their employees qualify for SNAP benefits. Blaming Unions for the economy and income inequality is like blaming sub-prime mortgages for the Great Recession, which was actually caused by unregulated financial institutions levering their balance sheets 30 to 40 times equity. Your comments are spoken by one who has never experienced poverty and has always had healthcare.

      • Jim Bean

        The “Great Recession” is a fantasy. Subprime mortgages, which took wing after Janet Reno (Democrat) sued 13 lending institutions because they refused to make them, caused an artificial burst of economic activity (housing bubble). When the bubble burst, the economy simply settled back down to where it would have been if the housing bubble had never occurred. Yes, banks did bad things to avoid the losses Reno presumed they would eat. But the Dems did a bad thing when they tried to tell lenders who was ‘qualified’ for a mortgage loan and who wasn’t. They weren’t making and bundling risky loans before they stuck their social engineering noses into it. I’m not defending WalMart, I’m simply skirting the emotional spoilers and political loyalties.

      • Jim Bean

        If you’ll agree that everyone who has noticed that the slaves were black and that everyone in the medical communities who notices heart attacks and sickle cell anemia are more prevalent among blacks – if you’ll agree they are ‘racists’, then I’ll confess to being a racist as well. And you are correct. I’ve never experienced (real) poverty and always had health care. As a HS grad with no connections, at age 21 and fresh out of the Navy, I took an entry-level laborer job ($3.25/hr). I worked hard, became a local union president, and parlayed that position into a middle management position. I also married a woman ambitious enough to work and we pooled our incomes. Two WalMart employees making 22K are making a total of $44K – nearly twice the poverty level.

      • luci

        He camps out hoping to pick a fight. This guy is all over the feeds on this site. He’s a troll. Definitely not worth wasting your time arguing with him.

      • Matt Lawrence

        Along with the house.

    • disyman

      You sure are not paying attention, they-thats they have 42 percent of the money in the United States. 6 people and dont pay their employes worth a damb so we the tax payers subsidize their wages in the form of wellfair. Its not fair to the employees and not fair to the taxayers but im sure congress is getting their cut.

      • anoncanadian

        The article states that they have the same wealth as the bottom 42% of the american population, not that they have 42% of the money in the united states…these are very different statements,

    • Cathryn Sykes

      Jim: Eight people buying luxury items is not the same as hundreds of thousands of people buying necessities. How many people are employed to construct a $50 million dollar house? As many as would be needed to build a 1000 $50,000 houses? Hardly. One of the Walton heirs lives in my county here in Texas. She owns very expensive horses….and as a horse owner myself, I can tell you that it doesn’t cost 100 times as much to feed, water and train a $100,000 horse than a $1000 horse. The base price of a Bentley Mulsanne is $300,000. Does making it employ twenty times more people than a car that costs $15,000? Of course not. What you’re pitching is simply more of that idiot “trickle down” crap.

      • Jim Bean

        There is plenty of merit to what you say but it is a partial perspective. While I don’t respect or admire anyone who lacks compassion and generosity, I’m not blind to the rest of the landscape. What would your life be like today without the greed of such people as John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Charles Schwab, Andrew Mellon, John Gates, Henry Frick, Andrew Carnegie, many more like them now deemed ‘Robber Barons.’ Without them, we would not have become a country where enough has ‘trickled down’ that most of its citizens are among the wealthiest 10% of people on the planet. Without the #1 greedy billionaire (Bill Gates) you and I wouldn’t have the tools to discuss this the way we are. You can afford to have horses. I can’t. Having said that, do you feel you ‘owe’ me something to satisfy your sense of fairness?

      • Cathryn Sykes

        Please tell me what the Walmart heirs–the heirs, not Sam Walton–have done to be compared with Vanderbilt, Carnegie, etc. And yes, I own four miniature horses and two Welsh ponies. I also drive a truck I bought used, live in a small house, and buy my clothes second-hand so I can have those animals. So please don’t try to make this a one-on-one comparison. Not when its really an eight people versus-one hundred million people comparison. Eight people, I might point out, who have never had to work a single day in their lives. And BTW, none of your titans of industry would have earned a dime if they hadn’t had people to, if you want to use Atlas Shrugged as an example, dig their ore, smelt it, form it, make rails out of it, grade the right of ways, lay those rails, build the locomotives and railroad cars to travel on those rails, etc. Funny how the contributions of those people never get mentioned in Ayn Rand’s fantasies. Your Randian supermen would be NOTHING without the people who ACTUALLY DO THE WORK.

      • Jim Bean

        It comes back to a choice between full perspective and limited focus. The fact remains that the people who did/do the work would not have had the work to do had it not been for the ambitions (no matter how sedentary or selfish) of the wealthy. The mental ingenuity to assemble capital and construct organizations is an essential ‘contribution’. You have indicated you are among the 5% of wealthiest people on earth. Could you have achieved that in the absence of the people I mentioned? Again, I am not defending their ethics. I’m simply offering a perspective that is devoid of emotional spoilers like envy and ethical judgments. (The Vanderbilts/Carnegie’s built their empires upon recognition of the economic potentials of the period of time in which they lived. The Waltons have done the same.)

      • getoffmylawn

        You’re lecturing other commenters about “full perspective” while ignoring the obvious sources of wealth? Their wealth didn’t come from their investment or creativity. It came from monopolistic tactics that ran thousands of smaller businesses into bankruptcy. Virtually all of these “robber barons” made their massive fortunes in the days before the income tax and when the vast majority of Americans died in poverty. The average age at death was 50 to 60 years old. What broke up those monopolies was the anti-trust effort of Republican Teddy Roosevelt and subsequent presidents up until Richard Nixon. The radical tax cutting and undoing of monopoly protections since the 1980’s is what has created vast wealth inequality, not the Waltons’ “investment”. The Waltons depend on regional monopoly and keeping their employees away from financial security to generate their wealth. Much of their employees’ income goes right back into the stores for basic necessities. Spare me the down your nose lecturing about your vast knowledge of free market economics.

      • Cathryn Sykes

        Excellent points. I would also add that no “robber baron” makes it on his own. They don’t have a magic wand they can wave when they have a brilliant idea and–voila!–one full-fledged empire. “Atlas Shrugs” is based on the idea one man has of building better steel and therefore a better railroad. But that idea is NOTHING without the people who would mine the ore, smelt it and cast it. Or the people who would survey the railroad, grade it and build it. Or the people who would build the locomotives, railway cars, and staff the train. Plus all the other auxiliary workers, all down the line, who are the ones who actually make any industry possible. Facebook was the brainchild of one man; but it was hundreds of people, possibly thousands, who designed the system, wrote the code, supplied the computers, wrote the contracts….and further down the line, built the offices, ran the wiring, hell, created the internet itself! WITHOUT THOSE PEOPLE, Facebook would NOT exist. Are they to get no credit? Should they not receive fair compensation? Not a single one of the Walmart heirs had anything to do with the creation of the Walmart empire that equals what their compensation is. Wave a magic wand; make all the sales clerks, stocks clerks, ordering managers, truck drivers, building supervisors, cleaning staff….all those who run and service those stores, suddenly disappear and the name Walmart would mean…..nothing.

      • Reynard Vulpes

        You have to be joking. You think Gates was the only operating system developer? He didn’t work harder than the competition, he just got lucky at IBM in negotiations.

        And “most of it citizens,” Jim. Please. Where are you getting these strange statistics?

        You know the truth. Are you a Koch Klan shill?

        We know they’ve been supporting your kind to go out and lie lie lie about the economy and politics for years now.

        1 percent of your ten percent are what pushes the wealth numbers up, not the remaining 1%. The middle class is facing extinction. You know that.

        Working class people are worse off than ever with GOP policies and rich thugs making of law by buying congress members though campaign finance.

        You know that as well.

        It’s how they got to keep such obscene wealth they do NOT work for.

        Enough of your drivel.

    • Ryan

      What’s better for the economy? 6 people buying 1 pair of pants or 100 million people buying 1 pair of pants? I’ll give you a hint, it’s the latter. Buying a Ferarri does help with jobs but that’s 1 car in 1 factory for 1 person, compared to 10 million people being able to buy their own car, 10 million cars from a dozen different manufacturers is so much more beneficial to the economy.

      If you increase wages and benefits, it will obviously cost the company more money, and the company will have their revenues decrease because of the spending, so what will they do initially? They’ll cut some jobs and they’ll cut some hours, in the exclusive effort to maintain profit margins for their corporate owners. Eventually when wages for all people are increased, they will spend more money on stuff they want, and when they buy more stuff, there’s more demand, and demand makes more supply, more supply requires more employees to keep up, companies are forced to hire more people even with higher wages and benefits.

      Then because they desperately want to keep their profit margins the same or higher, they’ll instead rise the prices of their products, but then competition that keeps their prices the same or lower will sell more because consumers will buy a better deal 9 times out of 10 if the product does the same thing.

      If you don’t maintain a competitive advantage, consumers will not buy your products.

      So when all is said and done and companies unhire and rehire people because of demand, then raise then lower prices because of competition, the other alternative is to be more efficient, eventually you can only do so much. Then the last and only thing left is to cut profit margins for the owners. And at $33 billion dollars from profit to an owner, cutting margins won’t hurt them as much as they’ve hurt the people working for them.

      • Jim Bean

        Cutting their profit margins won’t hurt them at all. They’ve got way more than they can ever spend on opulence. I guess you and I disagree on whether that money is already actively circulating in the economy or is inactive and that it therefore, holds the potential for greater economic benefit. I don’t think you and I can bridge that gap.

  • nextstep99

    The irony is the taxpayers subsidize their obscene wealth with Walmart retail employees struggling to live above the poverty line. The Waltons live their lavish life in the lap of luxury — with cars, mansions, planes, expensive clothes, jewelry, high-end eateries — whining about the taxes they have to pay and paying millions to lobby groups to get those taxes reduced and subsidies increased. Not only that, the goods that could be created in the US crating manufacturing jobs are made in Chinese sweat shops. Walmart is China’s single biggest customer. On that note: why on earth do wage earners vote for a party who’s biggest contributors want to: pay no taxes, pay a wage that has minimal benefits and needs to be subsided by the taxpayer with food stamps or threaten to close down the factories and send jobs overseas if the government legislates a decent living wage. That has to be one of the great con jobs of all time. “Vote for “us” and we’ll cut your wages and cut our taxes!” The Pope is right. There is no trickle down effect. The trough only gets bigger.

  • joanne

    i have boycotted walmart many years ago. but i understand how most couldn’t. but until everyone boycotts walmart, they will continue to strip this country of every mom and pop store, close every smaller grocery store chain and so on. i still don’t understand how this family sleeps peacefully at night!

  • average Joe

    Not bad since Sam started out working at JC Penny for about 47 cents per hour.

    • Cathryn Sykes

      Nobody grudges Sam anything. But why should my taxes subsidize his incredibly wealthy heirs? That’s the point. Why should I subsidize their billions?

    • Buckthesystem

      Sam Walton also started his stores sourcing AMERICAN made goods to sell in his stores and keeping the economy going strong making those products for his stores. When trade agreements allowed his family to source cheap goods from China the U.S. manufacturing started to decline and now we are screwed.

  • Tamaracboy

    At 42% that would be HUNDREDS of millions
    Half of whom still vote Republican
    Go figure

    • surfjac

      My opinion, and I don’t believe it violates any reality, is that these people have been victimized by right wing propaganda and will vote against their own best interests.

  • rock

    well i’m a former heavy leaning ‘progressive’, turned more conservative over the past couple years (based on our current national direction) but I will say the topic of this article has less to do with republican v. democrat than it does bad economic decisions by lots of layers- consumer through law maker.
    i mean one can take extreme cases that tilt the scales – like the waltons, or the rockefellers for that matter, and align it with ‘the ideals of the enemy’.. but i bet if u poll most people in this country- both sides- they would generally all agree it’s not morally right to control that much wealth. I wish there was a ‘common sense’ party that took the best of both sides- progressive human rights, conservative civil and individual liberties.
    anyway, i know this site is incredible liberal biased- sole in fact, but I do wish this country would stop letting itself to be pitted against one another while the actual players (on both sides of the political line) take advantage of the fighting and win.

  • rossbro

    Walmart Corporation should have to pay America back for support we provide to underpaid WallyWorld employees. The Company can certainly afford to pay livable wages.

  • Brent

    So from what I read through these comments, it sounds to me like the majority of people believe that just because the Waltons are the richest family on earth, we should rob them of all their money and tell them not to buy nice cars and nice houses and shut down their stores so that mom and pop stores can come back up? Do you think that that is going to help anything? You realize that Walmart is the nations #1 private employer. I’ve worked for the company holding various positions within the store and did not feel once that I was being cheated on my wages. Spend some time somewhere outside of the US, like Mexico, they pay 5 dollars a day for a 10 hour shift for teens to work. The United States has a serious feeling of entitlement, that we need to be treated superior than everyone else and we need to be able to afford what we want. I can also promise you that on minimum wage, depending on the size of your family of course, you should be able to pay rent and put food on the table every month, maybe you’ll have to get another part time job on the side. That’s what the American dream is all about, finding a way to better your position, work for a company that pays better, get a promotion to a position that pays better, start a side company that earns you money to play with or invest. That is how this country was built, that is how the Waltons originally earned their money.

  • peaceaholic

    Jim Bean dick jizzle
    • 17 hours ago

    +

    Consumers and the tools they use (Walmart) drive the economy. Right now, they’re driving China’s economy much more vigorously than ours. You own anything that wasn’t made in this country?
    ##########################################################
    If nothing upsets you more……………….Walmart does business with China to sell you products that are not inspected by the FDA or any other government programs that ensure nothing is in your food, toys, clothes, etc. China has no programs to limit their use of toxins (lead for example) put in items shipped to the US. Although I shop at Walmart, I will not buy items made in China. Oh, by the way……………this had to be approved by Congress…..the 105th Congress which was majority Republican.

  • Richard George

    What disgusting, greedy people. Eventually, the country will fail if this continues. That much is guaranteed.

  • balashi

    Can someone please link me to the article where Wal-Mart was forcing people to work for them … you know, the one where they hired people and then did not reveal to them what their pay grade would be until after they got their first paycheck? I’m trying to find it, but I can’t seem to … It was the same one where they explained how Wal Mart was meant to be a lifetime career path for anyone who works there… damn, where is that article!

  • balashi

    Liberals are like the guy who finds a girl attractive, and then gets insanely upset when the girl doesn’t like them back! Duder… she’s just not going to get into you … it’s not going to happen! And Wal Mart is NOT going to be a charity for people who don’t feel like aspiring to something more than retail! You know what you can make going in there – if you expect more and don’t get it, you only have yourself to blame!

    Stop blaming Wal Mart for the economic problems of this country! Start blaming our do-nothing government that for the past four decades (yes, democrat and republican alike) have taken our money and done NOTHING with it but put us into insane debt!