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Friday, October 28, 2016

Having been raised in a small-business family and now running my own small outfit, 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 fairly sizeable family nest egg. In fact, it totals right at $103 billion for the six of them. Yes, six people, 100-plus billion bucks. That means that these six hold more wealth than the entire bottom 40 percent of American families — a stash of riches greater than the combined wealth of some 127 million Americans.

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 the “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 6th, 9th, 10th and 11th 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 ever 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 then that the one-percenters (on in this case, the 1/100-of-one-percenters) are hailing themselves as our country’s “makers,” while snidely referring to workaday people as “takers.” With the Waltons, it’s the exact opposite.

Indeed, you’d think that the Bentonville billionaires would realize that their fortunes are tied directly to these disparage. Apparently, they’re unaware that America’s economic recovery cannot truly be measured in the performance of the stock market but instead should be gauged by the sock market.

  • idamag

    After seeing what Walmart did to our local businesses, in our community, I vowed never to buy there. The only time I did was when I received a gift card from there and on the way out the door with a frying pan, in a bag, with a receipt also in the bag, I was stopped. I showed the “greeter” my receipt and still had to wait for someone to come and verify the receipt. It was not a pleasant experience. Then there was the time they were exposed for changing “Made in whatever slave labor country” to “Made in the USA.” tags on clothing. I don’t shop there.

    • clarenceswinney

      Thanks Idamag
      80% of non-produce sales at Wal-mart are imports.
      We exported jobs for one reason. Only one.
      Cheap Labor. No pension-no health care-no overtime pay
      USA Today headline Article.
      Person returned to El Salvador
      Made $400 week in USA and best job he could find paid $40 per week
      The so called cheap goods are not so cheap. Just slightly so. Importers make huge mark ups.
      Costco pays living wage and sells many made in USA goods.

      • tdm3624

        That is why we shop at Costco.

      • Independent1

        Unfortunately, there are only 3 in New England and they’re all in the Boston/Nashua NH area. Would sure love to have Costco put some stores in Maine. A separate article claims that Costco has better prices than Amazon (as well as Walmart).

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Sams Club stops you Before you enter the store for a store ID. They they stop you Before you leave to check your receipt.

      BJ’s has a greeter before you enter, but stops you before you leave for a receipt.

      I personally I haven’t had any major problems at Walmart. I usually ignore the greeter as I’m going in, even sometimes ignore them before I leave. I’ve heard they really can’t physically “stop you” on your way out. They do, you can sue them supposidly. I don’t know if this is true or not. Overall though, I haven’t had any problems what so ever shopping at Walmart. In fact, its been a very pleasant, peaceful experience.

      But, their prices aren’t as low as they claim. Here is what I have found out though. If you consistently shop at one store, say groceries, it all seems to even out and everyone seems to base their prices all at the same level. Yes, one store will offer something cheaper than the next. But, by the time you go running around shopping at all these other stores for this or that product, you’re better off staying at one store. Saves a lot of running around and gas. Now, I do 90% of my total shopping at Walmart, including my drugs, food and clothing. Hardware I reserve for Home Depot or the local hardware store and GFS for some major bulk groceries such as meat, pasta and sauces (sometimes). Even then, it depends on price.

      Nike and a few other brand name products have been accused of making products using child labor in very poor countries. IF this country didn’t have strong child labor laws, the same thing would happen here as well. Emmm, maybe that’s why the Republicans would love to get rid of the Department of Labor.

      After all, these days, even our kids are expendable.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    Like I’ve said many times before on other issues, put the blame where it squarely belongs.

    It is not Walmart’s fault they are profiting like crazy. Put the blame squarely on the American Consumer for purchasing Walmart’s products that make Walmart China’s second largest trading partner.

    Blame unionized workers for shopping at Walmart instead of a union store, or at least one that supports unions.

    Blame your goody-two-shoe neighbor who harps on US Made Products, but buys communist made products because of their greed.

    The typical American Consumer could give a rat’s ass about this country just as long as they get anything they want for as cheaply and as quickly as they can.

    It’s all pure Bullshit. But!

    What does Walmart do?, they’re just capitalizing on American Greed. And, China is laughing all the way to the bank!

    • John Pigg

      Awesome point,

      Everyone likes to claim that shopping local is great and we need to support local business but few people put their money where there mouth is.

      Wal-Mart sucks, but we aren’t going to do anything by whining about it.

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        Well, I have been trying to shop only locally-owned grocery stores. But, I’ve noticed my favorite products I like are being replaced with generic brands at my local stores. They told me they weren’t going to stock certain products anymore due to “their bottom line”. Basically, they are trying to maximize their profit margins.

        One store chased me away because of this. So F-em, if they don’t stock the products I usually like, I’ll go elsewhere. Unfortunately, recently that choice has been Walmart.

        You know, this is not only about being loyal to a store. This has a lot to do with the store being loyal to it’s customers. It’s just a simple fact that once a store starts to change product lines you’re used to buying there, people are going to go where they can buy the products they’re used to purchasing.

        This is a key reason why so many restaurants close. You’re used to going to a particular one and find out your favorite items have been eliminated. People are not going to tolerate it. They won’t be back.

        • John Pigg

          Fair enough,
          to each his own. And you are completely within your bounds to vote with your wallet and shop where you will.

          As to your point of view economic loyalty, you do have a point. But I would also build on that, and say that Wal-Marts executives have a responsibility to the nation to ensure things like a fair wage, freedom to organize, and livable benefits.

          I feel like Wal-Mart has failed in this regard so for me it’s worth it not to go there. But I’m not in the business of telling others where they should or shouldn’t shop.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            I totally agree with you.

            Here is another story for ya that actually happened.

            The store is Acme, it’s 6pm at night. I had a friend who was buying a whole chicken and wanted a butcher to cut it in half.

            The Butcher and 2 other store managers were just standing around and shooting the shit. He went up to them and asked if the butcher would cut the chicken in half.

            Can’t afford to do that, said the butcher.

            I’d of dropped it on the floor and walked away.

            BJ’s, Sams Club has a butcher on staff at least 8 hour (Walmart 16 hours) a day and will cut meat if asked to to your specs.