Sunday, March 13, 2016
America’s Most Wanted: Forbes Richest People
Every year, for the past three decades, Forbes comes out with its list of richest people in the world. To me the list should be in the post office highlighting America’s Most Wanted, as I believe most of the people on the list committed crimes or ethical violations in order to get and stay there.
It’s not a crime to be rich, and it’s true some get there out of brains, gumption and luck, but you don’t get to be mega-rich without getting down and dirty.
There’s a disdain for the uber rich, not just a jealousy. We know that the rich get rich, in part, because they either overcharge customers, underpay employees, bribe people, violate laws, fudge taxes, or take advantage of their position.
Some seem likeable and innocent, like the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who despite all of his charitable giving leads the world with $75 billion. Michael Bloomberg, with $40 billion, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg at $44.6 billion, and Warren Buffett at $60.8 billion. All seem like good people. But who knows what they do behind closed doors.
I have zero evidence to support my belief that the wealthy are crooks and/or unethically greedy, but I stand by it. So many people work hard, are smart, and act honestly and don’t accumulate even 1% of 1% of the wealth any of these 1,810 global billionaires have.
The list doesn’t seem to have a lot of people associated with book publishing and books, unless you count Jeff Bezos, who runs Amazon. Here’s a case in point. Some in the book industry believe that Amazon doesn’t operate fairly. To top it off, Amazon benefits from Wall Street support like no other stock in history – despite the fact the company barely makes a profit in comparison to what it takes in.
Donald Trump is a good example of my claim about the rich. I realize he was born rich but he did turn his inheritance into a net worth of $4.3 billion, according to the list. Some of that came as a result of filing four business bankruptcies, admittedly paying off politicians, and from the looks of things, bullying those that he deals with. He’s been accused of fraud by New York State and has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and has paid a variety of penalties for violating the law. Should we praise him for being rich at the expense of the law or morality?
Others are on the rich list like the Andresetti sisters, each worth 1.2 billion dollars at ages 19 and 20, simply because they inherited daddy’s wealth. I don’t fault those who inherit money except that the money was likely earned through violations of laws and ethics, to a certain degree. I’m also sure every tax law was twisted to ensure money transferred down with few if any taxes paid.
There is a pattern to these wealth lists. They include people in energy, pharmaceuticals, sports, financial services and industries that are powerful. You don’t see too many billionaire authors, publishers, or truly creative artists. It’s due to the scale of our economy. No one can sell more books at a high enough margin point to compete with a company that sells oil, drugs or hedge funds.
The rich run the world in a variety of ways:
· Wealth influences the media, politicians and the police
· They determine what gets sold and produced
· They dictate wage scales and best practices
Think about how hard it is for people to become millionaires. Then think of how few are worth ten million dollars or more. Now, multiply that by 100 and you get a billion dollars. And some people are worth tens of billions. I do think we need limits on how much any one person can own. Why?
First, a handful of people should not get to run the world. I treasure democracy and fairness.
Second, society, benefits, through taxes or charities, so if some people accumulate so much wealth they need to give back to society.
Third, under a cap system, people can still be crazy rich. Example: If we said once you get to be worth say $50 million dollars, the rest has to be taxed at 90% or given away to charity, what would be so wrong? Couldn’t this person live off of 50 million? Would they have a cramped lifestyle when most people don’t earn $50 thousand annually?
Create an economic system that allows for mobility and growth that allows for someone to taste life’s best offerings, and that rewards people for their industriousness, but let’s not give a blank check to the wealthiest because in the end more goes wrong when wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.
I much prefer a Bernie Sanders world, where the poorest are not left out in the cold, where the richest still have a lot of toys but don’t own everything. Our nation is better when people have something to aspire to. For now, too many are stuck in a hole and don’t seem to be going anywhere but sideways.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016