Friday, March 11, 2011

833 I Have A Little List

833 I Have a Little List

Actually it is two lists. Both Forbes Richest Americans and the accompanying World’s Billionaires annual fun fest have been published. The the combined wealth of the 1200 or so people on the World list is greater than the GDP of Germany. Together they represent $4.5 trillion... that’s trillion with a “t.”

The richest man in the world is -- again -- the inaccurately named Carlos Slim. The Mexican telco tycoon is said to be worth $74 billion. Buying this guy a gift must be tough. What do you give him for his birthday, Liechtenstein?

The American side of the list looks like a police lineup of the usual suspects.

Bill Gates is #1 at 54 billion; Warren Buffett is number two with a relatively paltry $45 billion. Four of the top ten are members of the Walton (Wal-mart) family, with a combined worth of something in the neighborhood of $84 Billion. Two of the top ten are the Koch Brothers, the oil guys who aren’t seeking special favors from the governor of Wisconsin. Together, they are worth a combined 43 billion.

So six of the ten are either Waltons or Kochs. That leaves Gates, Buffet and Oracle’s Larry Ellison ($27 billion) at the top and Mike Bloomberg ($18 billion) at number ten.

Forty seven people dropped off the US list. Recession is bad for the super rich, too. At least for some of them.

The website’s presentation of the list is a little less flexible than in previous years. So we can’t tell at a glance if there are any Rockefellers or Gettys on it. (There aren’t.) We don’t know how much of any individuals’ wealth is liquid or what would happen to the un-liquid part of it if they tried to turn their paper into cash.

So, how much of this money is “real?” That is, if Bill Gates walked into his local WaMu branch with a hand truck and a withdrawal slip for $55 billion, what would they give him? Fortunately, we won’t find out. There ARE no WaMu branches in Washington State, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Notice there are no Forbeses on the Forbes List? Not now, and not even when you didn’t need a billion dollar minimum. Is that because they hide their wealth well or because they aren’t as rich as they’d like you to think.

Here’s a hint: in recent years they’ve sold a half interest in their media company, their ranch in the west, their collection of Faberge eggs, the Forbes Building on Fifth Avenue and now, a palatial house in England.


--Fellow Long Islander and fellow Sunnyside Queens boy Peter King is the wrong guy to head hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims because of his close and well known ties to the Irish Republican Army. His rejoinder, “The IRA never attacked America” just doesn’t wash. But his investigation might.

--Wisconsin Republicans found a “work around” or loophole to have their way with unionized state workers and have passed a slightly less draconian anti-labor bill than originally proposed. Time for Democratic Party legislators to leave the witness protection program, go home and work against further declawing their constituents. Where are the former IRA and KGB agents when we need them?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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