Fortune magazine’s Top Ten Billionaire’s Club released this week has 5 Walton family members clustered in a tie at number 4 on the list. Matriarch Billionaire Helen Walton, and her Billionaire Offspring, Alice, Jim, John and Rob, all were listed as having a net worth of $18 billion. Meanwhile, the 1.4 million people who work for them make an average annual salary of $19,487 a year — before taxes. If the Waltons’ $90 billion fortune were to be divided up among its employees, everyone working at Wal-Mart would get a $64,285 raise this year. Put another way, for an average Wal-Mart worker to make $18 billion, they would have to work for the retailer for 923,692 years. If 20,000 Wal-Mart workers started working at Wal-Mart at age 18, and did not quit until they turned 65, their collective earnings, before taxes, would equal the net worth of one Walton family member.
One has to wonder what the plantation workers at Wal-Mart must think when they compare their paystub to their company, which had $9 billion in profits last year, and is headed by 5 of the richest billionaires in the world. Perhaps it would occur to these workers that they are working their tails off for less than $20,000 a year — when can they expect to share in some of the enormous profits that flows through the company? When do they get their piece of the action? Then again, maybe the thought would never occur to Wal-Mart employees at all. That’s how plantations work.