When they write the history of early 21st century United States of America, you can bet this fact will be mentioned: One family owns more wealth than 40% of the rest of the nation.
Yes, you read that right. There are five Americans who have a greater net worth than approximately 126,500,000 other Americans combined.
It gets more interesting than that. Do you remember the crashes we had late last decade? When typical American families lost nearly 40% of their wealth as the stock and housing markets tanked? Yeah, during that same time (2007-2010), The Walton family (You knew that was who we were talking about, right?) increased their wealth. Back in 2007, their combined family wealth was only more than the bottom 30% of American families combined.
During the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, Sam’s boys and girls were buying, not selling (yes, like Potter). And if the economy was shrinking (and it was), that means the Waltons were making even bigger gains than it seems at first glance. Briefly translated, this means that some of what used to be yours now belongs to Christy Walton.
Why am I picking on this poor clan of discount retailers from the hills of Arkansas? Because if you combine the wealth of all five of them, they own more than any other family in America. According to Forbes, at least.
As I’ve noted before in this space, I’m for capitalism. Reasonable capitalism. This? What we’re doing right now? This isn’t reasonable by any definition. What this is is a path to feudalism. It’s not hard to project the feudal lifestyle on a particular class of Wal*Mart employees.
When they write the history, one of the stories is either going to be how the people realized they were being screwed and turned things around or how the people at the top finally rounded up all the money and all the power. And the story of the Walton family is going to be Exhibit A.