According to data contained in the Survey of Consumer Finances recently released by the Federal Reserve, the six heirs to the Walton family fortune of Wal-Mart fame are worth more than nearly 42 percent of all Americans.
via Josh Bivens of the Economy Policy Institute
The three years of wealth data from 2007 to 2010 just provides an extreme example of how the economic fortunes of Walmart’s owners have diverged from those of typical American households. Concretely, between 2007 and 2010, while median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent, the wealth of the Walton family members rose from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion (note that the 2007 wealth number is slightly larger than was reported at the time—to provide an inflation-adjusted comparison, I converted the 2007 wealth value of $69.7 billion to 2010 dollars using the consumer price index (the CPI-U-RS, to be specific)).
In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families.
And in 2010, as the Walton’s wealth has risen and most other Americans’ wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.
Contrary to popular belief, Democrats do not begrudge people simply because they are wealthy, however we also don’t believe the Waltons need another tax cut. They can afford to pay a top marginal rate of 38 percent rather than 35 percent.
Not that they’re necessarily paying 35 percent anyway. They, like Mitt Romney, are likely paying a much lower effective rate.
And it’s not about punishing success, because like most people in their class, the Waltons will be inheriting this glut of money. They didn’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps into a position where they have more money than the next 40 million families.
Wal-mart doesn’t make their billions without a load of help from the federal government either. A significant portion of Wal-mart employees are intentionally kept at low hours. This allows the company to shift the cost of employee healthcare to Medicaid.