|A view of Wal-Mart’s distribution center north of Mexico City, in the municipality of Cuautitlán Izcalli.|
With a combined fortune of more than $90 billion, the Waltons–the immediate heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton–are the richest family in the world. Wal-Mart became the nation’s largest private employer and as the Nation's Lisa Featherstone calls them, "a flytrap for much-deserved criticism."
Philanthropy obscures the often unseemly process by which the money was made–and for Wal-Mart that’s at least part of the point.
The Walton Family Foundation has also become the single largest source of funding for the voucher and charter school movement. But here's something for charter schools running on Walton money to think about. A big chunk of that fortune, hidden for tax purposes inside their foundation, comes from Wal-Mart's corrupt penetration (no pun intended) of Mexico.
An expose in yesterday's NYT reveals:
Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.Subverting democracy, circumventing regulatory safeguard, lack of transparency -- these sound like essentials for private charter operators applying for Walton money.