During a Congressional panel discussion on Thursday, Indpendent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont blasted the Walton family for what he sees as their tax-subsidized fortune. He contends that they maintain their status as some of the wealthiest people in the world by paying poverty wages to their 1.4 Million US employees. He states the taxpayers are left paying for the rest for the workers and their families with taxpayer subsidized Medicaid, food stamps, housing, and other government benefits.
Sanders was calling into question whether its morally or ethically right for a massively wealthy and profitable company to have such high rates of full times employees on government assistance. He says the discussion about income inequality inside the Beltway are divorced from reality, and that the lobbyists and representatives for these large corporations are getting rich off fighting for corporations that hoard the earnings of the labor for just the executives and board of directors, as well as shareholders. Sanders said in the 1950’s the average working class wage was (today’s equivalent of) $37/hour.
He said today the average wage is $8.80, with the net result of exploding rates of poverty and workers needing help just to pay their bills and raise their children.
Sanders said there are more people living in poverty today than in the history of the US. This is likely due to big boxes stores and mega-corporations running the small mom & pops stores out of business, the ones that populated every neighborhood into the 1970’s, where wealth stayed in the town. Now with mega-corporations, the labor is extracted from a town the benefits don’t go right back reinvested into the neighborhood, they get moved out to the shareholders that are in other parts of the country, or other parts of the world. Sanders nearly edges into the idea that shareholders at the mega-corporations that exploit workers are similar to a modernized slave owner. The shareholder and executives of the corporation own the labor whereas the laborer just barely subsists for their 40 hours per week.
Sanders goes on to say between 2009 and 2012, 95% of all new income generated went to the 1%. He also says the top 1% owns 38% of the nation’s wealth.
The bottom 60% of people own 2.3% of the entire nation’s wealth. He asks the panel if this makes moral or economic sense. He asks is it okay that one family (The Waltons) own more wealth than the bottom 40% of the American people. He also says the Walton family is the wealthiest family in America, and yet they are the biggest recipient of welfare in the US due to the taxpayer covering the gap on their employees needs. The Walton’s are reportedly worth $100 Billion. They are the largest employer in America.
Senator Sanders posted his panel discussion to YouTube. There is much more in the less than 7 minute clip, check it out here and tell us what you think and feel about the issue.