Saturday, December 10, 2011
The left's latest villains in the class war they want to start are the heirs to Sam Walton, who are said have as much wealth between them as the bottom 30 percent of Americans.
Who knows whether the math is true? Whether it matters, or not, is a question of taste more than objective justice. There are, however, three true points about the Walton fortune.
First, it will dissipate sure as the Lord made little green apples. All great family fortunes do, whether or not there is an estate tax, because few heirs beget many more, most of whom are no better at building new fortunes than the average bear.
Second, nobody, and surely not people chosen by politicians in return for support, will put the fortune to a socially better use, on average, than even the most dissolute of Sam Walton's heirs. Better to let it dissipate organically, in the passage of the years.
Third, is there any American business that has done more for the standard of living of poor and working class Americans than Wal-Mart? Am I the only person who remembers how damn expensive basic household items were before Sam Walton revolutionized the supply chain for everyday stuff? Many fortunes spring from great contributions to human welfare, and few more so than the Walton family's.
All great family fortunes dissipate? While I agree in principal, there are lots of obvious and interesting exceptions. The Rockefeller fortune, made during and after the civil war is still around (and supporting Barack Obama these days), as is the DuPont family wealth still around, made during and after the Napoleanic wars and the war of 1812.
Some fortunes endure, aided by few offspring, good lawyers and pliant Congresses. The Kennedy's are another example of a fortune that has endured and, because you raise this subject, I get to ask a question I'd love to know the answer to: was Teddy a resident of Florida at his death, or was he willing to stick with Massachusetts right through paying estate taxes? I'm betting he was a legal resident of Florida at his death, and I'd love to know the truth.
The hospital I was working on had to be renamed only months after it's dedication when a local hero left 14 million dollars to pay off part of the debt the state incurred in building it. He started building his fortune AFTER he retired from his job as an aerospace assembler. When I hear politicians rant about the evil rich, I remember Mr. Douglas.
Anon - The Rockefellers are still rich but from what I have read the amount of money they control is a smaller percentage of GDP that it once was. And, if their fortunes endure do to some hard working offspring and good lawyers, I'm OK with that. Crony Socialism we can all do without.
From a tweet by Iowahawk: "2010 Federal Spending: $3.8 trillion. Total spending by human race, in all Walmarts, everywhere, in human history: $4 trillion."
The article you link pegs the combined wealth of the Walton Six in 2007 at $69.7 billion. So how long would it take government spending to totally dissipate the Walton fortune? And what lasting benefits would we note from those expenditures?
The linked article also lists the wealth in 2007 of the Forbes 400 at $1.54 trillion. Assuming similar numbers today, it appears that if all their money were confiscated, the federal government could burn through it in about 5 months at current spending levels.
We must always remember during these dark times that it is Communism and Socialism that promise equality of outcome, while the American way has always been to strive for equality of opportunity. Exxon made $20 billion in profit a few years ago and the left attacked them for it. That money would support our entire Federal Government, for a weekend.