UC Berkeley economist Sylvia Allegretto draws a straight and bright line from the Forbes 400 to the Wal-Mart fortune.
The Forbes list reveals that six Waltons—all children (one daughter-in-law) of Sam or James “Bud” Walton the founders of Wal-Mart—were on the list. The combined worth of the Walton six was $69.7 billion in 2007—which equated to the total wealth of the entire bottom thirty percent!
Rachel did some calculating on it and sent us all this e-mail:
There are 307 million Americans. So, 10% of America is about 31 million people. 30% of America is three times that -- about 93 million people. 93 million Americans, collectively, have the same amount of money as six members of the Walton family.
Laura Clawson at Daily Kos gives the kaleidoscope another turn:
Six people. As much wealth as 30 percent of people. In 2007, the population of the United States was 302.2 million people. Six people had as much wealth as 90.7 million of those people. Or, to put it in another way, we're not talking about the top 1 percent. We're talking about the top .00000002 percent.
The original chart takes a little looking at to understand, I think, partly because what it's telling us about the disparity of wealth is so incomprehensible.
(H/t Justin Elliott/Salon)