Getting ahead on the backs of others

Having been raised in a small-business family and now running my own small business, I always find it heartwarming to see hardworking, enterprising folks get ahead.

Having been raised in a small-business family and now running my own small business, I always find it heartwarming to see hardworking, enterprising folks get ahead.

So I was really touched when I read that, even in these hard times, one extended family with three generations active in their enterprise is hanging in there and doing well. Christy, Jim, Alice, Robbie, Ann, and Nancy are their names – and with good luck and old-fashioned pluck, they have managed to build a family nest egg that totals right at $103 billion. Yes, six people, 100-plus billion bucks. That means that these six hold more wealth than the entire bottom 40 percent of American families have – a stash of riches greater than the combined wealth of some 49 million American households.

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How touching is that?

The “good luck” that each of them had is that they were either born into or married into the Walton family, which makes them heirs to the Walmart fortune. That’s where old-fashioned “pluck” comes in, for the world’s biggest retailer plucks its profits from the threadbare pockets of low-wage American workers and impoverished sweatshop workers around the world.

Four of the Walton heirs rank as the sixth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh richest people in our country, possessing a combined net worth of $95 billion. But bear in mind that “net worth” has no relationship to worthiness – these people did nothing to earn their wealth, they just inherited it. And, as Walmart plucks more from workers, the heirs grow luckier. In recent years, while the wealth of the typical family plummeted by 39 percent, the Waltons saw their wealth grow by 22 percent – without having to lift a finger.

How odd that the 1-percenters consider themselves “the makers” and consider workaday people to be “takers.” With the Waltons, it’s the exact opposite.

“Fun Facts About Rich People: Walmart Heirs Own More Wealth Than Bottom 40% of Americans; the Wealthy Give Less to Charity Than the Poor,” www.alternet.org, March 25, 2013.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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