2013: Tough Year for Workers, Great Year for Billionaires
By Shlomo Maital
Last year, 2013, was not too great for the working people of the world. Unemployment remains high in most countries, especially the U.S. and Europe, and is highest among the youth. Economic growth is stagnant in the U.S. and EU.
But guess what. It was a GREAT great year for billionaires. According to Forbes magazine, which carefully documents (and generally worships) the super-rich, there are 1,645 dollar billionaires in the world — 268 more than the previous year, an increase of 17 per cent. The world’s billionaires owned wealth totaling $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago, a 19 per cent rise!
The total wealth held by only 1,645 persons, $6.4 trillion, is bigger than the GDP of any country, except the U.S. and China.
Who tops the list? Well, it’s Bill Gates again, with personal wealth of $76 b. (mainly through Microsoft stock). And here’s the point. Bill Gates isn’t TRYING to make money any more. In fact, he’s working very hard, with his wife Melinda, to GIVE AWAY his money effectively and impactfully.
So, to those, like Financial Times’ Chris Giles, who want to refute Thomas Piketty’s findings — answer this. How can you deny, that great wealth perpetuates itself, and grows itself, at huge rates of increase, even when the owners of that wealth aren’t even trying to add to it?
America has the most billionaires, 492 of them; China is a surprising second, with 152, and Russia, third, with 111. America has 1.55 billionaires per million people; China has 0.11 billionaires per million; and Russia has 0.77 billionaires per million. Most of Russia’s billionaires stole the assets that rightly belong to the Russian people.
So – dear Bill Gates: It certainly is true that if you’re born poor, it’s not your mistake, or your fault. And the way the world is, chances are very high, you are born poor. But Bill, if you die poor, which is what happens to most poor people, it definitely DEFINITELY is not your mistake. Because the world is enormously tilted toward those who already HAVE money. Fact. And your wealth is proof.
If you die poor, it is because those who control $6.4 trillion of the world’s wealth, which they accumulated on the backs of hard-working people, are using it to generate more and more and more wealth, and hang onto it, instead of using it to help others without money get more of it. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are exceptions that prove the rule.
And Chris Giles? What else would you expect from the Financial Times?