2011-11-28 "Walmart Chairman Rob Walton: The Worst of the One Percent?" by Dan Bacher
Brave New Films, the film studio that produced the ground-breaking
documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” is holding an
online vote to pick the "worst of the 1%." They’re looking for the
person who is doing the most with their wealth to exploit the rest of
the country - and to privatize public services and public trust
Walmart Watch (http://www.walmartwatch.org) is urging people to vote
for Rob Walton, chairman of Walmart and an heir to the Walton’s family
fortune, as the worst of the one percenters. Walmart Watch is an
organization that "seeks to hold Walmart fully accountable for its
impact on communities, the American workforce, the retail sector, the
environment and the nation's economy."
I also strongly urge everybody to vote for Rob Walton as "worst of the
1%" for his efforts to crush labor and human rights and drive local "mom
and pop" operations out of business, as well for funding corporate
environmental NGO efforts to privatize the oceans by promoting "catch
shares" programs and Arnold Schwarzenegger's privately funded Marine
Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.
To vote, go to: http://www.bravenewfoundation.org/dirty-thirty/all/rob-walton.
"When it comes to the 1%, Rob Walton and the Walton family are it,"
according to Walmart Watch. "The Walton family has amassed more than $93
billion in wealth, making them the richest family in the country."
"The Waltons inherited that wealth, much of it was created by paying
many workers at poverty-level wages, offering poor benefits, and
lowering conditions in the supply chain by demanding ever-lower prices.
Walmart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated hundreds of
thousands of US manufacturing jobs," the group ntoed.
Rob Walton himself has an overall estimated worth of $21 billion
running the world’s largest private employer. It is estimated now that
1.4 million people work for Walmart or 1 out of every 222 people in the
"The dividends of the Walmart stock the Waltons own alone could go a
long way toward making Walmart jobs good, living wage jobs. Instead he
chooses to keep the average employee below the family poverty line and
cut health benefits for hundreds of thousands employees," the group
The Waltons have used the Walton Family Foundation to advance an
extreme anti-worker and anti-human rights agenda. In the last five
years, the Walton Family Foundation (where Rob sits on the board) has
given money to the Heritage Foundation, the National Right to Work
Foundation and other groups that advance the agenda of Wall Street
banksters and other corporate operatives who have looted the economy.
Walmart Watch stated, "In 2010, the Walton Family Foundation spent more
than $157 million to support the so-called school choice movement. This
movement generally seeks to divert money from public schools to private
schools through policies such as vouchers and charter schools. These
donations make the Walton Family Foundation one of the largest funders
of efforts to undermine public education."
Wal-Mart gives $36 million to ocean privatization efforts -
In addition to anti-worker and school privatization campaigns, the
corporate giant also dumps millions into "environmental" programs to
greenwash the privatization of public trust resources.
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a national grassroots
recreational fishing organization, in August slammed the Walton Family
Foundation's contribution of $36 million to ocean privatization efforts
through "catch shares" programs and the creation of so-called "marine
"Wal-Mart announced this week its efforts to help fund the demise of
both the recreational and commercial fishing industry while also working
to ensure that the next generation of sportsmen will have less access
to coastal fish stocks than at any point in U.S. history," according to a
news release from RFA
In a August 16th news release from Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in
Bentonville, Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation announced
"investments" totaling more than $71.8 million awarded to various
"environmental" initiatives in 2010. The foundation handed over $36
million alone to Marine Conservation grantees including Ocean
Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation, Marine Stewardship
Council, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The five top grantees were: Conservation International, $18,640,917;
the Nature Conservancy,$9,305,449; Environmental Defense Fund
$7,086,054; the Marine Stewardship Council, $4,500,000; and the Ocean
Critics of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, have blasted
the company for decades for being able to sell its products at cheap
prices only by employing sweatshops, undercutting competitors, wielding
its market power to cripple both competitors and suppliers, and flouting
national and international health, safety, labor, and environmental
standards. Anti-corporate globalization opponents have long regarded
Wal-Mart as a virtual "Darth Vader" of retailers, as documented in the
film, "The High Price of Low Cost."
Greenwashing Wal-Mart's image -
However, in 2006 the retail giant hired Adam Werbach former Sierra Club
president to "polish" its image
latest Wal-Mart release is apparently part of a carefully orchestrated
campaign to greenwash its image - and extend control over public trust
According to the release, the Walton Family Foundation "focuses on
globally important marine areas and works with grantees and other
partners to create networks of effectively managed protected areas that
conserve key biological features, and ensure the sustainable utilization
of marine resources - especially fisheries - in a way that benefits
both nature and people."
"We focus our work in the United States' primary river systems and in
some of the world's most ecologically significant marine areas," said
Scott Burns, director of the foundation's Environment Focus Area and the
former director of marine conservation at the World Wildlife Fund.
"It's important to us to protect and conserve natural resources while
also recognizing the roles these waters play in the livelihoods of those
who live nearby."
The RFA countered that these specially managed areas of coastal waters
are also referred to as "marine protected areas" or "marine reserves,"
and the end result is denied angler access, of little or no benefit to
the very people whom Wal-Mart claims to benefit.
Marine protected areas without real protection -
"A quick visit to the Ocean Conservancy website should be telling
enough for anglers interested in learning where Wal-Mart's profits are
being spent," said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. "These folks are
pushing hard to complete California's network of exclusionary zones
throughout the entire length of coastline, and they've made it very
clear that they would like to see the West Coast version of the Marine
Life Protection Act (MLPA) extended into other coastal U.S. waters."
Grassroots environmentalists, fishermen, members of Indian Tribes,
civil liberties activists and environmental justice advocates have
criticized Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act
(MLPA) Initiative, privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund
Foundation, for its numerous conflicts of interest and the violation of
numerous state, federal and international laws.
The so-called "marine protected areas" established under the MLPA
Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, water
pollution, wave and wind energy projects, military testing, corporate
aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other human impacts upon the
ocean other than fishing and gathering. In an extreme case of corporate
greenwashing, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States
Petroleum Association, served as chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task
Force that created these questionable "marine protected areas" on the
Southern California coast. She also served on the task forces for the
North Central and North Central Coasts.
When not chairing or serving on these rigged panels, Reheis-Boyd has
been busy lobbying for new oil drillling off the California coast, tar
sands drillling in Canada
and for the weakening of environmental regulations throughout the West.
The Walton Family Foundation release also said that so-called "marine
protected areas" being promoted with the foundation's money include
those in Indonesia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Gulf of
California and the Gulf of Mexico.
"Here's an organization which has publicly opposed creation of
artificial reefs used by Wal-Mart's tackle buyers, in some cases openly
advocating for their removal, yet the Walton family is handing over tons
of money for support," Donofrio said of Ocean Conservancy in
Jack Sobel, a senior scientist for the Ocean Conservancy, has said
"There's little evidence that artificial reefs have a net benefit,"
citing concerns such as toxicity, damage to ecosystems and concentrating
fish into one place (worsening
Wal-Mart boycott follows Safeway boycott -
"Shopping for fishing equipment at Wal-Mart is contributing directly to
the demise of our sport, it's supporting lost fishing opportunities and
decreased coastal access for all Americans," Donofrio said. "I hope all
RFA members across the country will remember that when it's time to
gear up, but I would also wonder if perhaps our industry can help spread
the message and support our local tackle shops by also pulling product
off Wal-Mart's shelves."
RFA in April 2011 announced its support of a national boycott of the
Safeway Supermarket chain, including Genuardi's in New Jersey,
Pennsylvania and Delaware, because of that corporation's support for
California's widely-contested MLPA initiative.
"Apparently Safeway has gotten some bad advice from the people in the
ocean protection racket, a community to which the California-based
mega-corporation is now donating profits," said Jim Martin, West Coast
Regional Director of the RFA. "Safeway says it is supporting groups that
make a difference like the Food Marketing Institute's Sustainable
Seafood Working Group, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions
and the World Wildlife Fund's Aquaculture Dialogues, but it's little
more than corporate greenwashing."
RFA believes it's time that Wal-Mart was added to the angler boycott list as well.
"The Walton family created this huge corporate entity which has
threatened the vibrancy of our local retail outlets, and now they're
essentially doing the same thing with our fishing communities," Donofrio
"Much like Safeway has done with their financial investment in the
environmental business community, Wal-Mart apparently prefers customers
buy farm-raised fish and seafood caught by foreign countries outside of
U.S. waters, while denying individual anglers the ability to head down
to the ocean to score a few fish for their own table," noted Donofrio.
Wal-Mart pushes catch shares program -
The Walton Family Foundation is also working "to create economic
incentives for ocean conservation," while candidly pledging their
support for "projects that reverse the incentives to fish unsustainably
that exist in 'open access fisheries' by creating catch share programs,"
according to the official news release.
A broad coalition of commercial and recreational fishing, consumer and
environmental groups is opposing the catch shares programs being pushed
by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, a former vice-chair of the Board
of Directors of Environmental Defense, because these programs amount to
the privatization of public trust resources by concentrating fisheries
in the hands of a few corporate hands. Wherever catch shares have been
introduced, local fishing communities, fish populations and the
environment have been devastated.
"A catch share, also known as an individual fishing quota, is a
transferable voucher that gives individuals or businesses the ability to
access a fixed percentage of the total authorized catch of a particular
species," according to Food and Water Watch
(http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/fish-inc). "Fishery management
systems based on catch shares turn a public resource into private
property and have lead to socioeconomic and environmental problems.
Contrary to arguments by catch share proponents – namely large
commercial fishing interests – this management system has exacerbated
unsustainable fishing practices."
Donofrio emphasized, "Our local outfitters and tackle shops along the
coast have had to face an immense challenge by going up against
Wal-Mart's purchasing power during the last decade, but now that the
Walton family is so up front about their opposition to open access
fisheries, it's hard for me to believe that any sportsmen would ever be
interested in shopping there again."
"California anglers have been outraged to learn that money they spend
at a Safeway grocery store might end up in the hands of anti-fishing
groups like the EDF and the Ocean Conservancy, so I hope more anglers
will join the national boycott by sending a message to Wal-Mart as well
as Safeway," Martin added.
Sam and Helen Walton launched their "modest retail business in 1962"
with guiding principle of helping "increase opportunity and improve the
lives of others along the way," according to the Walton Family
Foundation website. It is that principle the foundation says, that makes
them "more focused than ever on sustaining the Walton's timeless
small-town values and deep commitment to making life better for
individuals and communities alike."
RFA said grassroots efforts to combat the corporate anti-fishing, pro-privatization agenda are more than just an uphill climb.
"The EDF catch share coffers are already filled to the top, while Pew
Charitable Trusts has billions in reserve," Donofrio said. "The
individual anglers and local business owners are being denied
opportunity, and I hope the federal trade representatives are willing to
get onboard with their support of real small-town values." He
emphasized that the Ocean Conservancy and EDF combined received more
than $10 million in Walton Family Foundation grants in 2010.
EDF: RFA's contention is 'just wrong' -
The EDF public relations department was quick to respond in defense of their $7,086,054 Walton Family Foundation donation.
Tom Lalley, communications director for the Oceans Program of the
Environmental Defense Fund, claimed, "RFA’s contention that the
contribution in question was made by Wal-Mart is just wrong."
"The contribution was made by the Walton Family Fund and not Wal-Mart,"
Lalley told http://www.fishnewseu.com. "These are two different
entities. There is no connection between the two other than the fact
that the fund’s money comes from private holdings of the same Waltons
who started and managed Wal-Mart, but none of the money comes from the
existing company. So it was the family, and specifically the family’s
foundation, that made a contribution for sustainable fishing and ocean
conservation, and not the store."
According to RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, Jr., the marketing
executives at EDF are "some of the best in the ‘astroturfing’ business,"
but he calls Lalley’s claims "almost comical."
“So I leave you a $1,000 bill in the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart, tucked
under a box of sugar coated corn flakes, does that mean that Wal-Mart
actually gave you the $1,000, or maybe EDF would argue it was really a
contribution from Tony the Tiger himself,” Hutchinson laughed.
“The heirs to the corporate fortune have spent two decades successfully
building back their stake in this publicly held company to the point
they now own over 50% of the Wal-Mart operation. The Walton Family
Foundation is Wal-Mart, and the Walton family itself is making billions
in our local communities, so to say that the two are separate entities
is simply ridiculous. Actually expecting us to believe that statement is
borderline insanity,” Hutchinson emphasized.
Commercial fishermen join recreational anglers in denouncing Wal-Mart's support of privatization -
Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), praised the RFA for criticizing
Wal-Mart's contributions to ocean privatization efforts and welcomed the
organization's call for a Wal-Mart boycott.
"Wal-Mart is wrong on this issue, just as it has been in the past on
labor and community issues," said Grader. "The privatization of public
trust resources is the antithesis of conservation."
"I've been boycotting Wal-Mart for decades and it's absolutely great
that recreational and commercial fishermen are together on this," noted
It is worth noting that Conservation International and the Nature
Conservancy, the two top recipients of Walton Family Foundation funds,
are known throughout the world for their top-down "environmental"
programs that run roughshod over local communities to achieve their
corporate greenwashing goals.
Corporate environmental NGO 'leaders' support peripheral canal -
The Nature Conservancy in California is a strong backer of state and
federal plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to corporate agribusiness and
southern California water agencies. Peripheral canal opponents,
including recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta residents,
family farmers and California Indian Tribes, believe the construction of
the canal would result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead,
Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other
imperiled fish populations.
The Walton Family Foundation's contribution to Conservation
International is no surprise, since Rob Walton is chairman of the
executive committee of Conservation International's Board of Directors
Also serving on the Board of Conservation International is Stewart A.
Resnick, Chairman of the Board of Roll International Corporation, who is
the largest tree fruit grower in the world and one of the biggest
recipients of subsidized water from the imperiled California Delta.
While making a tidy profit from selling his subsidized water back to the
public, Resnick has waged a relentless campaign to divert more water
from the Delta through the peripheral canal and has done everything in
his power to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central
Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other
Resnick's Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, an agribusiness
"Astroturf" group, has also spent a great deal of effort in litigation
attempting to eradicate striped bass from the Bay-Delta Estuary by
falsely claiming that "striped bass," rather than water exports, are the
cause of Delta smelt and salmon declines. For more information, go to:
MLPA Initiative Background:
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a law, signed by Governor Gray
Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas
off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in
2004 created the privately-funded MLPA "Initiative" to "implement" the
law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.
The "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative fail to
protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, water pollution,
military testing, wave and wind energy projects, corporate aquaculture
and all other uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of
"marine protected areas" included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer,
real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of
interest. Catherine Reheis Boyd, the president of the Western States
Petroleum Association who is pushing for new oil drilling off the
California coast, served as the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force
for the South Coast.
The MLPA Initiative operates through a controversial private/public
"partnership funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The
Schwarzenegger administration authorized the implementation of marine
protected areas under the initiative through a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between the foundation and the California Department
of Fish and Game (DFG).