Read

Search form

The Waltons of Walmart: The Greediest Family in the World

The Waltons of Walmart: The Greediest Family in the World
Fri, 9/13/2013
This article originally appeared on Gawker

Four members of the Walton family, heirs to Sam Walton's Walmart fortune, are collectively worth more than $100 billion—more wealththan the entire bottom 40% of Americans. They are doing everything in their power not to give up a penny more than they have to.

The Waltons are the richest family in the world. They are the new Rockefellers, the modern synonym for "vast wealth." And indeed, income inequality in America has reached levels not seen since John D. Rockefeller roamed the earth. The Waltons are the kings and queens of our new Gilded Age.

Reasonable people, I suppose, can disagree on the morality of amassing such mind-boggling wealth. What most reasonable people would agree on, I think—what we would regard as basic human decency and common sense—is that it is not healthy for such great wealth to exist in perpetuity, passed down from generation to generation endlessly, creating ever-larger dynasties, until America is even more of an unequal plutocracy with unequal opportunity than it already is.

This is why estate taxes exist. We have agreed, as a society, that at least some of these huge piles of wealth should be put back into the public coffers when their rich owners die. Not all of the wealth; not even most of the wealth; just enough to get some back in circulation, for the good of everyone, and to try to do something to slow down the creation of personal billionaire kingdoms.

Quite a few billionaires, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have pledged to give away almost all of their fortunes to charity. The Waltons take a different approach. They have decided to hoard as much of their fortunes as possible. They have decided to use each and every tax loophole possible in order to keep their money in their own family, and not to allow the public to claim a single dollar more in taxes than they absolutely have to.

In Bloomberg on Wednesday, Zachary Mider had an excellent in-depth report on the strategies the Walton family uses to avoid estate and inheritance taxes on their fortune, which has been built on the backs of extremely low-paid workers. One of their favorite techniques: establishing a type of charitable trust that can shelter money from taxes, and later put that money back into the pockets of family heirs. Sometimes, with a profit!

"If the trust’s investments outperform that benchmark rate, then the extra earnings pass to the designated heirs free of any estate tax... "With a big enough spread between the actual performance and the IRS rate, a Jackie O. trust can theoretically save so much tax that it leaves a family richer than if it hadn’t given a dime to charity... "'This time in history is probably going to go down as a unique opportunity” to “transfer assets out of an estate at the lowest cost,' said Charles J. McLucas, president of Charitable Trust Administrators Inc. in Tustin, California."

So the next time you hear about how fabulous the Walton family's opulent new art museum is, or how much money the Walton family has given to land conservation, remember that all of that charity is part and parcel of a structure designed expressly to hoard billions of dollars within this one single family, and to avoid paying the normal tax rates that have been levied for the purpose of a tiny step towards equality.

And also remember that all of the millions and millions of workers who made those billions and billions of dollars possible are trapped in a world of low wages, and are prevented from unionizing and bettering their own situation by the zealous efforts of Walmart.

The Walton family's very existence is an insult to the American dream.

Originally published by Gawker

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

London tube strikes, anti-labor laws, anti-strike laws, London Underground, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, RMT

Strikers are protesting job losses that have led to a shortage of station staff, which they say is endangering passenger safety and reducing the level of customer service.

Trump resistance, Indivisible Guide

The incoming administration has fueled a new level of political activism.

1 percent, Ralph Nader,

In his latest book, the critic and activist proposes the creation and activation of a new 1 percent — one that will expose “conditions of deprivation and abuse” and champion “basic fair play.”

wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Tony Atkinson, wealth inequality, income inequality, Obamacare, affordable healthcare, gutting healthcare, Republican agenda, Donald Trump, tax cuts for the rich

With a new Congress and White House committed to wealth’s concentration, we’ll sorely miss the scholar who dedicated his life to documenting wealth’s maldistribution.

creative activism, Act Out, 1984, George Orwell, Ministry of Truth, NDAA, Global Engagement Center, Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, red scare, blame russia, James Clapper, NSA, national intelligence, CIA, Russia hacks, mainstream media, corp

This week on Act Out!, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength—and it's still Russia's fault.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
anti-Trump protests, Inauguration Day protests, anti-Trump movement, Socialist Alternative, Students for a Democratic Society, student walkouts, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, authoritarian rule

The protests against Donald Trump on his Inauguration Day could stand out as one of the largest counter-inaugural protests in U.S. history – and organizers insist this is only the beginning of a broader resistance movement.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.

Posted 6 days 22 hours ago
Greek healthcare crisis, Greek austerity crisis, Greek austerity policies, Syriza party

Due to imposed austerity cuts, 850 medical clinics have closed, 10,000 beds have been shut down and 30,000 healthcare professionals were removed from frontline positions – while those who remained saw wages cut by 50 percent.

Posted 5 days 16 hours ago
wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Posted 3 days 21 hours ago
Zapatistas, EZLN, Mexico indigenous populations, Chiapas struggle, direct democracy, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

“This council proposes to govern this country,” the Zapatista Army of National Liberation said.

creative activism, Act Out, 1984, George Orwell, Ministry of Truth, NDAA, Global Engagement Center, Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, red scare, blame russia, James Clapper, NSA, national intelligence, CIA, Russia hacks, mainstream media, corp

This week on Act Out!, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength—and it's still Russia's fault.

1 percent, Ralph Nader,

In his latest book, the critic and activist proposes the creation and activation of a new 1 percent — one that will expose “conditions of deprivation and abuse” and champion “basic fair play.”

Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.

Tony Atkinson, wealth inequality, income inequality, Obamacare, affordable healthcare, gutting healthcare, Republican agenda, Donald Trump, tax cuts for the rich

With a new Congress and White House committed to wealth’s concentration, we’ll sorely miss the scholar who dedicated his life to documenting wealth’s maldistribution.