I have never understood how one family could have so much money and feel the desperate need for even more.
At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, with the very rich getting much richer while working families face increased desperation, Walmart and its owners, the Walton family, have become the poster children for corporate greed.
And it is time that we stood up to that greed and the unfettered capitalism which sustains it.
Here is the reality. The Walton family is the wealthiest family in the country and is worth more than $200 billion, which is more than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined. Yet somehow, they continue to oppose the idea of paying their workers a living wage of $15 an hour. They think the taxpayers in this country should have to subsidize the needs of their low wage workers who are forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of public assistance.
This is a family that has made more than $50 billion during the pandemic – yet many of their workers reported going into work without the protective gear they needed during that same pandemic, and few have any paid leave they can use.
This is a family whose eldest son has spent more than $225 million on an antique car collection, including Ferraris, Porches, Maseratis, and a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that won top prize at the The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award in Paris — yet 55 percent of Walmart’s hourly workers have reported struggling with hunger.
This is a family with another heir to the Walmart fortune, Alice, who has amassed a private art collection worth an estimated $500 million, a $25 million two-floor condo on New York’s Park Avenue with 52 windows overlooking Central Park, and a $22 million 4,400-acre ranch in Texas — yet tens of thousands of Walmart workers are forced to rely on food stamps and public housing in order to survive.
Now, I have never understood how one family could have so much money and feel the desperate need for even more. I would think that with all those cars and homes and cash, they might just be able to raise the wages of their employees to a living wage and still afford to get by.
Because the greed above just scratches the surface of the Walmart family’s pathology.
In 2005, Walmart was forced to settle a child labor law case. That same year, they paid a settlement for denying workers meal breaks.
In 2016, they were found to have used sweatshop labor.
In 2017, they were sued by female employees for discrimination based on gender.
And here is something else you may not know:
The Walmart family — despite all of their wealth — is the largest welfare recipient in the country.
While they make these huge profits, buy their cars, their art, their homes, and more, they pay their workers wages that are so low that Walmart workers need distressing levels of public assistance just to get by.
A 2020 study by the Government Accountability Office found that in Arkansas, where Walmart was founded and has its headquarters, 1,318 workers receive SNAP benefits, which is 3.1 percent of the state’s total SNAP recipients. And another report showed that in 2013, Walmart cost taxpayers more than $6 billion in taxpayer-funded public assistance — and just four years later, for good measure, Walmart gave more than $8 billion in stock buybacks.
This is all possible because of the low wages they pay their workers, and compliments of U.S. taxpayers.
So to the Walton family, I say to you, maybe you cannot understand what it is like to make $11 or $12 an hour in this country, but your workers need a raise. No one can live in dignity working a full-time job at those wages.
Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Costco has raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour.
And it’s time for Walmart to do the right thing as well.
As Americans, we must ask ourselves one fundamental question, and that is whether or not this is the kind of country and economic culture we are comfortable with.
I am not. And I don’t believe you are either.
Thank you for making your voice heard.