"I wonder how many of us realize
the fact that 40% of people in the USA could not handle 400 dollars emergency
spending (!!) Should it happen to them; they would have to go into debt
or sell something." These words come from a Yahoo interview given by Abigail
Disney, the heiress of a huge fortune of her grandfather Walt Disney and
his brother Roy, creators of (among others) famous cartoon movies, as well
as theme parks and recreation spaces sporting a common world-known brand
name Disneyland. Not too long ago, at the invitation of one of the service
workers Abigail went undercover and visited the Disneyland theme park in
Anaheim, California, there she saw the current work conditions. Sure, she
realized the conditions are quite poor, but why to that extent? "My
grandfather and father taught me to revere those people that take your
ticket, pour your soda, that scrape bubble gum from the sidewalk." It is
thanks to such people; the visitors enter clean and well-kept park. Once
upon a time - about fifty years ago - my father gave our people a job for
life, with a health plan, retirement benefits and paid vacation." Now that
is the forgotten past. It might seem to many, a sentimental whim, but one
spring day Abigail Disney - admittedly, in a disguise - joined a picket
line of Disney corporation workers claiming human, decent pay for good,
decently done work.
Abigail Disney readily admits she
comes from a very conservative family, but she abruptly broke the link
the moment she started her college studies. She confirms that still prior
to her leaving the parents’ home, her behavior did not fit the stereotype.
"They were trying to fit each of us in a mold. It did not work with me.
When I began my studies I felt as if I were released from prison. For the
heiress of the Disney estate the ensuing period of student protests and
demonstrations has practically never ended. Asked by a journalist
why Abigail is so critical of the fact of possessing a huge fortune, she
replies "But I am not criticizing being wealthy. I am only not being comfortable
when there is evident disparity - a true bottomless precipice dividing
After a protest action in Anaheim,
the corporation CEO Bob Iger received a long e-mail letter from the controversial
co-owner. Its gist was expressed in three simple sentences.: "You are a
fantastic manager, possibly the best in the country. In your hands you
wield the power to leave the part of the world that depends on you, in
much better shape. Do you realize that your earnings are well over one
thousand times higher than those of the Disney low-level personnel members?
Did you get an answer? - asks the interviewer. So far, no - replies Abigail.
Anyone who knows her, is aware of her main demand which has consisted in
considerable cuts of various perks (those ill-famed "bonuses") on the top
of the corporate pyramid simultaneously accompanied by pay raises to the
worst-paid staff members. In case of Bob Iger his bonus amounted to 66,5
million dollars. It was calculated that should there be a 50% bonus cut,
it would still be possible for top management to pocket millions of dollars.
So, what are they up to? Most often they fear to upset the current system
that has been working with a precision of a Swiss watch for at least the
last 300 years. Both parties - they and we - know very well the answer
to the question what is going to happen to a block pyramid when one of
the blocks at the bottom is removed. Apart from her philanthropic and charity
work, Abigail Disney is a well-established documentary filmmaker, and film
critic, in her works touching upon a subject of universal mounting of social
Our lady-billionaire, for a long
time self-described progressive Democrat, proceeds in her ideas still much
further. Recently she joined a group of George’s Soros and twelve billionaire
families sending an open letter to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) with
a request to raise their taxes. "I have more than I need" - maintains Ms.
Disney with a palpable conviction. "Our tax system needs a structural change".
Although it has been a long time since she turned twenty, Ms. Disney severely
evaluates two main Democratic presidential candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie
Sanders. They both look to her as if they were from different epoch, hence
she has no qualms saying: "In 2020 we will need someone young, new and
entirely different. That is a must."
Michal Stefanski - radio and
press media journalist, American Studies graduate. For over 25 years he
has been a columnist in the Polish-language programs on CFMB - 1280AM broadcast
from Montreal. He has also been an occasional contributor to "Gazeta Wyborcza"
in Warsaw, as well as the to Toronto-based Polish weekly "Gazeta". He had
also his column in the Montreal "Biuletyn Polski". He has a cat named Zuzia.