The Urban Inquirer
A blog produced by students at Queens College, CUNY
The Founding Father of Inequality

Janie L

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Lower-class, middle-class, upper-class. This classification seems to work better in describing airplane sections rather than the economy in America. The common belief of some sort of balance and/or gradual stairway from the impoverished to the affluent in American citizens’ minds is closer to a fairy tale than the actual reality. In reality, that belief could not be more false. The poorest Americans are way past the poverty line and are “down to pocket change”, while the top 5% of American’s are “off the charts” when it comes to how much money they have. The middle class is almost “indistinguishable from the poor” and on average, has to “work a whole month just to make what a CEO receives in one hour.”

I feel as if it is necessary to mention the affluence of the Walton family when it comes to the discussion of economic inequality in the United States. The Waltons have been the richest family in America for years, with a net worth of “130 billion dollars”. They own 50% of Wal-Mart , a popular retail store that many people can pit stop for versatile shopping- from clothing and toys, to produce and electronics. This amount of money and involvement from this family is huge, but somehow most of the workers are poor- making minimum wage with faulty hours and insecurity. Yes, I have enjoyed my time in “Wally World” because of the amazing prices, but after going in and seeing the condition and treatment of the workers in Florida/Upstate New York, I have decided to stop supporting the store. I guess morally in my mind it does not add up how a whole FAMILY could sleep at night knowing that the employees who basically give them the access to the wealth they receive are suffering.

As I delved into more research on the corruption of this family, I came across an installment by Tom Kertsher, who reveals that the Walton family made approximately “$89.5 billion dollars……equal to the bottom 42% of American families. ” in 2010.  

My heart truly sank when I read these words, and I’m not just writing that. These statistics are only from 2010 and  are continuing to get worse. It baffles my mind how a whole family could do this to so many people. I already knew that Wal-Mart employees went on strike and protested for higher pay, but did not know that “Wal-Mart workers were more likely to be on Medicaid and food-stamps than any other employees in America“. The Waltons can afford to pay their workers more money. The Waltons can afford to give  a better working environment The Waltons can afford to give their workers better healthcare. But the real question is if they are willing to- if they are willing to sacrifice a small amount of their fortune.

We have two extremes here- employees who are abused, poor, and past the poverty line, and a family in the top 1%, who has broken the scale with their wealth, and is hundreds of times better off than the average American.

2 Comments to “The Founding Father of Inequality”

  1. Ronel Baccay says:

    This is a very well-written blog post, straight to the point and easy to understand. I enjoyed the outside information you provided for the Walton family, I didn’t know some of the facts you stated about the family. The economic equality between the CEO of Walmart and its workers reveal just how uneven the distribution of wealth is. This also gives me a different perspective on Walmart as a company and on the way their workers get a piece of the profit. Overall, I can tell you were passionate about this topic, it is very informative.

    • I agree, first off, the title of the blog was great in catching the reader’s attention and I liked the way you started the blog and how you used the Walton family gave us a better insight into exactly what economic inequality really is. This blog also gave a good amount of facts and statistical facts to really inform and help us understand more about the topic. By the way, I didn’t know that the Walton family owned 50% of Walmart and so that was something interesting to learn.

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