Wednesday, March 04, 2015

1454 The Forbes List and the Wealth Gap

“Round up the usual suspects” said the list maven at Forbes, the former magazine that has become a blog roll for every random financial seer and soothsayer who thinks John Maynard Keynes was the antichrist.

Thus, we have the 2015 list of “The World’s Billionaires.”  The list this year has 1741 slots.  Because of ties the number of people and the number of slots don’t match.  But the whole project adheres to “GAAP,” or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles… the very same standards that created the alternative universe that allows people to report income that doesn’t exist and may never… and render costs invisible.

Of course, the usual suspects rule the top of the list: Gates, Slim, Buffett, Ellison, the Walton family, the Koch Brothers, the Mars family, Soros, Icahn, the Facebook guy, one of the Google guys … same old bunch.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is number one at $79.2 billion.  But there is a terrible wealth gap.  When you get to the bottom of the list -- the minimum figure for entry is one billion dollars -- there’s an 84-way tie for last place.Those bottom feeders have a combined net worth of $84 billion.  But most of them don’t even know one another, let alone stand any chance of combining wealth to knock the top guys down a few pegs. Maybe they could form a union.

Of the bottom 84, only 23 are Americans.  And those are the only people who concern us here today.  These people are practically on food stamps and welfare compared with the top of the list.

This is just plain unfair.  And we should be doing something about it.  And we should be doing it right now, today.

Tax the TOP 23 Americans to help level the playing field.  Else, how can you stop the top from keeping the bottom down?

Why, Gates alone is $56 billion richer than the combined worth of the 23 Americans in last place.  It’s just not right.

Seriously, it’s tough to bend your mind around these numbers.  If you have ten or 20 bucks in your pocket, you understand your wealth of the moment.  Buy a car for a few thousand, it’s still a realistic figure.  Buy a house for a few hundred thousand and you’re getting far enough away from understanding the dollar count. When you get to a billion, it’s beyond grasping. Like Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the holocaust and the plague.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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