These “8 Men” Own as Much as Poorest Half of the World, Oxfam Reports as Global Elite Hobnobs in Davos

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Even in “rich countries,” more and more people “are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo.”

As the global elite descend upon Davos for the World Economic Forum to rub elbows, Oxfam released a report today which it introduced in this way:

It details how big business and the super-rich are fueling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. It calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.

Last year in its report, if figured that 62 people owned the same wealth as “the poorest half of the planet,” but this year more data became available. Had this data been available last year, it would have shown that 9 men owned as much as the poorest half of the planet. Now it’s down to just 8:

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Amancio Ortega
  3. Warren Buffett
  4. Carlos Slim
  5. Jeff Bezos
  6. Mark Zuckerberg
  7. Larry Ellison
  8. Michael Bloomberg.

The press release continues:

It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies, and undermining democracy.

Across the world, people are being left behind. Their wages are stagnating yet corporate bosses take home million dollar bonuses; their health and education services are cut while corporations and the super-rich dodge their taxes; their voices are ignored as governments sing to the tune of big business and a wealthy elite.

And in its detailed 48-page report (PDF), Oxfam dives into the inequalities and their causes. Four years ago, according to the report, the World Economic Forum identified rising economic inequality as a major threat to social stability, and the global elite sighed up sanctimoniously to lower inequality. Yet since then, “the gap between the rich and the rest has widened.”




Here are some morsels from the report:

  • Since 2015, the richest 1% has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.
  • Eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world.
  • Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.
  • The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much.
  • In the US, new research by economist Thomas Piketty shows that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50% has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1% have grown 300%.

But even in “rich countries,” inequalities are now leading to major frustrations, as more and more people “are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo. Why would they, when experience suggests that what it delivers is wage stagnation, insecure jobs, and a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots?”

Oxfam found seven causes of inequality.

1. Corporations, working for those at the top

[T]he world’s 10 biggest corporations together have revenue greater than that of the government revenue of 180 countries combined.

Businesses are the lifeblood of a market economy (and have a big role to play)…. In pursuit of delivering high returns to those at the top, corporations are driven to squeeze their workers and producers ever harder – and to avoid paying taxes which would benefit everyone, and the poorest people in particular.

2. Squeezing workers and producers

While many chief executives, who are often paid in shares, have seen their incomes skyrocket, wages for ordinary workers and producers have barely increased, and in some cases have got worse.

Across the world, corporations are relentlessly squeezing down the costs of labor – and ensuring that workers and producers in their supply chains get less and less of the economic pie. This increases inequality and suppresses demand (emphasis added).

3. Dodging Corporate taxes

Corporations maximize profit in part by paying as little tax as possible. They do this by using tax havens or by making countries compete to provide tax breaks, exemptions and lower rates. Corporate tax rates are falling all over the world, and this – together with widespread tax dodging – ensures that many corporations are paying minimal tax.

What is driving this behavior by corporates? Two things: the focus on short-term returns to shareholders and the increase in “crony capitalism.”

4. Super-charged shareholder capitalism

(Maximizing returns to shareholders) means not only maximizing short-term profits, but paying out an ever-greater share of these profits to the people who own them. In the UK, 10% of profits were returned to shareholders in 1970; this figure is now 70%…. This has been criticized by many, including Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock and Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England.

The increased return to shareholders works for the rich, because the majority of shareholders are among the richest in society, increasing inequality.

Every dollar of profit given to the shareholders of corporations is a dollar that could have been spent paying producers or workers more, paying more tax, or investing in infrastructure or innovation.

5. Crony capitalism

[C]orporations from many sectors – finance, extractives, garment manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, and others – use their huge power and influence to ensure that regulations and national and international policies are shaped in ways that enable continued profitability.

Even the technology sector, once seen as a sector that is relatively above board, is increasingly linked to charges of cronyism. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has become one of the biggest lobbyists in Washington and is in constant negotiations in Europe over anti-trust rules and tax.

Crony capitalism benefits the rich, the people who own and run these corporations, at the expense of the common good and of poverty reduction. It means that smaller businesses struggle to compete and ordinary people end up paying more for goods and services as they face cartels and monopoly power of corporations and those with close connections with government.




6. The role of the super-rich in the inequality crisis

The 1,810 dollar billionaires on the 2016 Forbes list, 89% of whom are men, own $6.5 trillion – as much wealth as the bottom 70% of humanity. While some billionaires owe their fortunes predominantly to hard work and talent, Oxfam’s analysis of this group finds that one-third of the world’s billionaire wealth is derived from inherited wealth, while 43% can be linked to cronyism.

Once a fortune is accumulated or acquired it develops a momentum of its own. The super-rich have the money to spend on the best investment advice, and the wealth held by the super-rich since 2009 has increased by an average of 11% per year. This is a rate of accumulation far higher than ordinary savers are able to obtain.

Whether via hedge funds or warehouses full of fine art and vintage cars, the highly secretive industry of wealth management has been hugely successful in increasing the prosperity of the super-rich.

But the super-rich are not just benign recipients of the increasing concentration of wealth. They are actively perpetuating it.

7. Avoiding Taxes & Buying politics

Paying as little tax as possible is a key strategy for many of the super-rich. To do this they make active use of the secretive global network of tax havens, as revealed by the Panama Papers and other exposés. Countries compete to attract the super-rich, selling their sovereignty. Super-rich tax exiles have a wide choice of destinations worldwide (and $7.6 trillion of wealth is estimated to be hidden offshore.)

Africa alone loses $14bn in tax revenues due to the super-rich using tax havens – Oxfam has calculated this would be enough to pay for the healthcare that could save the lives of four million children and to employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.

Many of the super-rich also use their power, influence, and connections to capture politics and ensure that the rules are written for them. Billionaires in Brazil lobby to reduce taxes, and in São Paulo would prefer to use helicopters to get to work, flying over the traffic jams and broken infrastructure below.

Some of the super-rich also use their fortunes to help buy the political outcomes they want, seeking to influence elections and public policy.

This active political influencing by the super-rich and their representatives directly drives greater inequality by constructing “reinforcing feedback loop” in which the winners of the game get yet more resources to win even bigger next time.

This hard-hitting summary of what ails the economic and social fabric of the world was delivered just when the very subjects of the report are hobnobbing in Davos.

But the report falls short in one aspect. It fails to name some of the main culprits: central banks. Is Oxfam too afraid of them? It doesn’t even mention “central bank” or any specific central bank, such as the Federal Reserve or the ECB, not even in passing, though they’ve been the engineers of the described wealth and income inequalities, with their very vocal and successful efforts to fire up rampant asset price inflation at the expense of everyone else mentioned in the report, including “savers.” And that omission, given its magnitude, cannot possibly be a mere oversight.

Here are the circuitous wonders of the Fed’s paying interest on “excess reserves.” Read…  Fed Pays Banks $12 Billion on “Excess Reserves,” Taken from Taxpayer Pockets




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  129 comments for “These “8 Men” Own as Much as Poorest Half of the World, Oxfam Reports as Global Elite Hobnobs in Davos

  1. ru82
    Jan 16, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Good list for Governments to target for Tax revenue…..well we know that wont happen.

    Funny how Buffet thinks raising the minimum wage is not the answer to end inequality (more wealth for him) but he wants to help people who are in poverty by suggesting the Government should instead give them assistance checks. Funny but raising the minimum wage means higher income from people and it also means more tax revenue for the Government. Buffets solution means no wage increases and no increase in tax revenue, but just more Government expenditures.
    ———————————-
    “Buffett has said repeatedly that tax refunds are better for the economy and workers than forcing companies to increase wages.

    “The earned income tax credit is much clearer,” Buffett said in an interview with CNBC last year. “That puts more money in the pockets of people who are working for low wages.”.

    • Meme Imfurst
      Jan 16, 2017 at 9:18 am

      You mean Mr. Fat, Sugar, and salt who was given Wells Fargo by a certain person leaving office this week?

      40% interest in private prisons
      Kraft,
      Dunkin d.
      Dairy Queen,
      Baskin Robins,
      Planters P
      Wells F.
      Trailer sales to poor with marginal income for one payment
      Trains that don’t load or unload oil crossing Canada borders and getting US subdidy
      ect
      ect
      ect

      He is not just rich, he is an American Patriot, Obama said so.

      • Intosh
        Jan 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

        And an icon and idol for most people. But Snowden is a traitor.
        “Funny” world we live in.

      • Kam
        Jan 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm

        You can’t get filthy rich without buying political power.

        • JerryBear
          Jan 16, 2017 at 10:59 pm

          And how many politicians do you know who are not basically whores?

    • economicminor
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Buffet owns a majority position in our local power company. I have tried to get trees along the lines cut down as hazardous thru my property. The crew foreman has told me many times that the budget for hazardous tree removal has been cut over and over since Mr Buffet’s entrance into the picture. So now we have a severe storm and many thousands of people were with out power for a week or more, he has to pay crews from hundreds of miles away lots of travel and over time to get the power restored. So PP&L lost tons of money this month. I imagine that will be justification for him to go back to the PUC and demand a rate increase so he and his ilk can more than make up for the losses he created by not doing the work they should have done prior to the storms.

      This is not only how our corporate system works but because of regulatory capture, how those at the top keep increasing their take.

      A friend of mine bought a new motor home from one of his companies. It looked good but when they got it home found many many things that were unfinished and poorly done. And getting the dealer to fix them was like pulling teeth from a shark while it is swimming. These rich people sure know how to make money but it isn’t by doing quality work. Do the least possible, sell it as great and reap the profits.

      • Terry
        Jan 16, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        Surely you can’t mean kind, folksy, humble Mr. Buffet, the one who has the cute watch dog named Munger who got off his leash once and attacked some college kids who were complaining about the banking bailouts in 2010. Haven’t heard from Munger much since then!

  2. Cyrus
    Jan 16, 2017 at 4:44 am

    They keep talking about the 1%; what 1%?

    “The 1,810 dollar billionaires on the 2016 Forbes list, 89% of whom are men, own $6.5 trillion – as much wealth as the bottom 70% of humanity. ”

    Now, raise the number to the richest 10,000, or for the sake of argument to the richest 30,000, and they probably own 95% of the wealth. That 30,000 is 0.000004% or practically zero percent of the population.

    In effect all of us, except that 0.000004, are fighting over the remaining 5% of the wealth. I believe in hard working people getting rich, but in the tune of millions and at most 100 million. Those who get to be billionaire, even the likes of Zuckerberg and Bezos, have either rigged the game themselves, or have had connections who rigged the game for them. I like Amazon, but come on, the company has had profit only for a couple of quarters after about 22 years. If it was any of us, the company would have gone bankrupt the very first year or two.

    • Lee
      Jan 16, 2017 at 5:16 am

      Well after leaving Japan and moving to Australia I have fallen way, way, way down the ‘rich’ list……….

      From 49 times the global average in Japan, to 25 times the average once upon a time here in Oz, to a number too small to post here and get embarrassed…………..

      Guess that happens when you get old, made redundant, and have to take any job that you can get.

      At least Australia is a ‘rich’ country in terms of assets:

      “Australia’s wealth per adult in 2015 is USD 364,900, the
      third highest in the world after Switzerland and New
      Zealand. Its median wealth of USD168,300 is second
      only to that of New Zealand.”

      • JB
        Jan 16, 2017 at 3:39 pm

        Ya think the high barriers to entry (visa costs, paperwork,
        asset verification ) for those non citizens that want to live
        and work in OZ and the raging real estate bubble have anything to deal with “Australia’s wealth per adult” ?

      • Mark out west
        Jan 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

        Lee that is because we have the most overprice Real Estate in the world.
        Once it returns to mean that number will be a quarter of what it is and everybody will be an Uber driver.

      • Nik
        Jan 16, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        Sadly…ALL a Function of POPULATION..mon ami

    • Intosh
      Jan 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

      The game has always been “rigged” because guess who’s making the rules? Sure, once in a while, a revolution takes place and a few “good men” give back some wealth and power to the masses but inevitably, those will slowly creep back to the top because of greed, which corrupts. Our economic system is based on greed so it is inevitable that the “game” gets corrupted.

      To be fair, the numbers for these people are inflated because it is assets in stock values. They will likely never be able to sell all that stocks in their lifetime. In that sense, much of that is wealth on paper and “locked”, ie they can’t sell a significant portion of the stock all at once, if for no other reason than impact on the stock price. So Bill Gates will really “only” get to spend in “cold hard cash” one billion dollars during his lifetime maybe? (But yeah, that’s still outrageous.)

    • RD Blakeslee
      Jan 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

      “… Bezos, (has) either rigged the game (himself), or (has) had connections who rigged the game for (him). I like Amazon, but come on, the company has had profit only for a couple of quarters after about 22 years. If it was any of us, the company would have gone bankrupt the very first year or two.”

      Quite the contrary, I think.

      Amazon eschewed a short-term search for profits and continued an all-in risk strategy of continuing to spend to build infrastructure.

      Bezos had ferocious competition all along, but his strategy won.

      • Ed
        Jan 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

        Amazon hasn’t made a profit but the capital gains have been tremendous.

      • Intosh
        Jan 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

        @RD Blakeslee

        Amazon is spending trying to build an ecosystem, not infrastructure.

        Bezos understood that the name of the game is growth, not profitability. So his business model is to branches out to many different areas to fuel this growth that investors are obsessed with. The strategy is not unlike that of Facebook, Google and to a lesser extent, Apple. They are all trying to build an ecosystem to grow their users base and extract as much value out of its users as possible. (As a side note, the auto industry understood this strategy well and see this as a threat, in the form of Android Auto and Apple Carplay that are capturing its users base. That’s why they are working on a coalition of auto makers, SmartDeviceLink Consortium, developing technologies with a goal to ultimately build their own ecosystem.)

      • Cyrus
        Jan 16, 2017 at 11:38 am

        I understand the strategy, but you and I won’t be allowed to play that game; if it was me trying to play that game, the second year, they would have forced me to close down the business.

        I know what game Bezos is playing, but the fact that he is allowed to play the game says a lot by itself.

    • Meme Imfurst
      Jan 16, 2017 at 9:27 am

      yes…and everyone buys their stuff…right. Can’t do with out posting all your dirty linen online, crying about this and that but not getting off the sofa, bla bla bla.

      Europeans do not put up with getting gouged like Americans do. Just look at what they pay for cable and phone…..about 20% of what Americans spay. WHY? Because Americans like to talk, whine, and get screwed by rich guys from habit and conditioning.

      STOP supporting what you know is wrong. STOP buying from them.
      Especially when you CAN see it is rigged and you are support it. They take dollars out of your back pocket and hand you pennies for your front pocket.

    • Tom Kauser
      Jan 16, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Doctors!

    • economicminor
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Zuckerberg is wealthy because FB is so valuable why? It doesn’t sell anything. It makes its money on ad revenue from Alphabet? I just don’t understand lots of things.

      • walter map
        Jan 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

        “Zuckerberg is wealthy because FB is so valuable why?”

        Social media was invented so narcissists, stalkers, and persons suffering from ADHD would know all about all the excellent deals on stuff they don’t need, can’t use, and can’t afford.

        If the unexamined life is not worth living, it certainly doesn’t merit detailed public documenation.

        • Kent
          Jan 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

          Thanks for that last statement!

      • Intosh
        Jan 16, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        FB is valuable because the data on you is valuable. When someone knows you, they are more effective in controlling you. Control is power. FB will shape the way you think and behave.

        Data on individuals is the most valued commodity in the business FB, Amazon, Apple, Google and even MS (guess why they offered you Windows 10 for free, a product that used to make them billions in profit) are in. Even car manufacturers are preparing to fight against these companies over the data on you (see SmartDeviceLink Consortium).

    • Thor's Hammer
      Jan 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      When I, Lord Thor, God of Thunder, am crowned Emperor I will issue two edicts that will forever change the distribution of rewards for Humanoid activity.

      The Potlach Law:

      Each year upon the winter Equinox the richest 1,000 individuals shall be required to give away half their fortune— lands, castles, corporations, horses, Ferraris, stocks & bonds—everything. All their treasure shall be sold and converted to gold held in trust for its future benefactors. Failure to comply shall result in the reluctant Oligarch being burned at the stake. If an Oligarch wishes to become legendary, he may choose to give away an even greater portion of his fortune and enter voluntary poverty.

      The Inheritance Law:

      Everyone should have an equal chance to excel in life. Upon death of all citizens, rather than rotten spoiled brats receiving the reward of having lucky genes, all assets must be liquidated and added to the Golden Trust.

      Upon arriving at the age 25, every Citizen shall receive his or her equal share of the Golden Egg. Bill Gates kid gets exactly the same start up capital and house down payment as the offspring of a welfare mother. Meritocracy instead of Aristocracy.

      Unlike the unpunished hollow promises of politicians, failure to fulfill my stated commitments would bring down the wrath of all the other Gods of Gaia upon my head.

      Thor

      • Jake
        Jan 18, 2017 at 12:43 am

        Nice but something stinks about sharing the golden egg to kids at 25. Like a sense of entitlement. Perhaps a few conditions should be met first to qualify, like an education, time served in community service, and a written set of goals and plans for the future.

      • Jake
        Jan 18, 2017 at 12:44 am

        Sounds like theft to me

  3. Sound of the Suburbs
    Jan 16, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Francis Fukuyama talked of the “end of history” and “liberal democracy”.

    Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.

    Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.
    Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

    Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn’t work.

    The ideas of “Economic Liberalism” came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn’t be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.

    It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.

    It brings extreme inequality and widespread poverty everywhere it’s tested, they decide it’s a system that should be rolled out globally. It’s just what they are looking for.

    Good news it works as planned.

    2014 – “85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world”
    2016 – “Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world’s population”
    2017 – World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

    The global elite are unsurpassed in looking after their own interests.

    What have those populists got to complain about?

    Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” covers this ideology in all its nastiness.

    It’s a ****ing disgrace, implemented by a greedy and self-serving elite.

    • Intosh
      Jan 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Didn’t these ideas exist before Milton Friedman (circa Friedrich Hayek and his Mont Pelerin Society)? Anyway, Friedman was a prominent figure in the resurgence of this ideology for sure.

      Note that their propaganda consistently make use of the words “freedom” and “choice” as the centerpiece of their ideas. To put it mildly, the outcome we see unfold is rather ironic.

      Many people venerate him almost like a god. Incredible.

      • walter map
        Jan 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

        Even Milton Friedman, in the end, started to realize that his ideas were wrong, and could only lead to catastrophe:

        The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.

        – Milton Friedman, Free to Choose

        Most of the theories for which Friedman is venerated have since been disproved by empircal studies, which strangely has had no adverse effect on his veneration. The so-called Austrian school of economics promoted by Libertarians like himself is notorious for being largely a collection of corporatist talking points based on an almost complete lack of any supporting evidence.

        • Titan28
          Jan 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

          Milton Friedman never in his life thought his ideas were wrong. Ok to disagree with him, but don’t put words in his mouth. The tyranny he’s talking about is government, your friend if I read you correctly.

        • walter map
          Jan 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm

          “Milton Friedman never in his life thought his ideas were wrong.”

          On the contrary, there are many examples:

          While admitting in “a final schizophrenic note” that his new view contradicted his earlier position . . .”

          http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6367.html

          ‘The use of quantity of money as a target has not been a success.’ He added: ‘I’m not sure I would as of today push it as hard as I once did.’

          Financial Times, 7 June 2003)

          Milton Friedman’s 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom made a surprising concession to the socialists. He said we need “a floor below which no man’s net income…could fall,”

          https://mises.org/library/friedmans-mistake

          “The tyranny he’s talking about is government”

          And the rich control the government and use it to tyrannize the country. Like he said.

        • Intosh
          Jan 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm

          “strangely has had no adverse effect on his veneration.”

          The illusion was just too effective and powerful.

          For instance, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (often commonly referred to as simply “Nobel Prize of Economics”) was never recognized and accepted as a legitimate Nobel Prize by the foundation. It was a scheme from bankers to associate Economics with the legitimacy of real science and with prestige of the Nobel Prizes. Effective propaganda to make the masse believe that some ideas largely based on ideology are rooted in scientific proof and, as such, must be considered and accepted as fundamental as real science.

        • Intosh
          Jan 16, 2017 at 11:06 pm

          The “Nobel Prize in Economics” Ruse:
          http://www.alternet.org/economy/there-no-nobel-prize-economics

      • harvey
        Jan 23, 2017 at 12:42 pm

        He is not wrong, it is freedom and choice. However, the US folks have an unfinished understanding of what freedom really is and its impact when used in a free society. Giving everyone equal amount of freedom, let it run its course though time, it will always end up to what it is today: very few people amass all the futunes and powers of the world. Because we were never born equal, nor do we share the same amount of smarts and fortunes, freedom allows those who have more to do more, those that have less to do less. The matthews effect comes to full play when coupled with freedom. Survival of the fittest is the one universal law that won’t change thoughout the course of the histroy, captialism is just a human version of that.

  4. Jonathan
    Jan 16, 2017 at 5:12 am

    I dunno which is sadder: These 8 men and the other megarich guys who still can’t do anything truly remarkable despite their wealth, or the plebeians who allowed all this to happen for the tiny off-chance in their miserable lives that they can join the former to oppress their own fellowmen.

    • Intosh
      Jan 16, 2017 at 11:10 am

      They “allowed” this to happen probably for the same reason that when they watch the movie The Hunger Games, the blatant analogy flew right above their heads: panem et circenses, “bread and circuses”.

  5. Bruce Adlam
    Jan 16, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Here comes Trump tax cuts for the wealthy while the muppets fight over the crums that’s not going to work.The problem is you have to be super wealthy to have a shot at being president the cards are stacked against the muppets. That has to change that won’t happen until life becomes unbearable

    • Sound of the Suburbs
      Jan 16, 2017 at 5:53 am

      Trickledown, probably the most ridiculous idea the elite have ever managed to sell to the public.

      All members of the US billionaire class believe in trickledown, e.g. Donald Trump. They forgot they made it up in the first place.

      All the evidence says the system trickles up and Adam Smith was aware of the trickle up of capitalism in the 18th century. Well, it’s more of a steady stream than a trickle.

      Since we started believing in trickledown and cut taxes on the wealthy, look what’s happened:

      2017 – Richest 8 people as wealthy as half of world’s population

      We assumed there was trickledown when the system flows upwards, no wonder there are problems with global aggregate demand and massive inequality.

      Trump test trickledown to destruction (in the US and not where I live)

      • Meme Imfurst
        Jan 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

        Indeed, look what has happened since 2012 when the ACA ( Obamacare) was validated. Can this be a major reason why it is failing? Insurers got BIG windfall profits, the best profits ever, yet screwed the people over by the LAW that taxes the little guy if he didn’t get on his knees and buy a policy? This could have been fixed, PERIOD. Buy this insurance or face peril….how did you feel when your rates went up 24% two years ago and 60% this year with 10,000 and more deductible? Lets see how that premium was spent…..

        For example:
        in 2013 Stephen Hemsley made $35,484 PER DAY, in 2014 he made
        $254,328 PER DAY as CEO of United Healthcare. god know what he makes now. And the other insurers pay is about double per year.. Wonder what the rest of the C suite guys and gals got? While your drug cost went up 200%, and your copay jumped by 50%?

        “Put a different way, in order to pay out the compensation for Stephen Hemsley, the United Health CEO for 2014, nearly 4,000 families had to pay the full $16,351 amount for healthcare that year. In what sort of world should 4,000 families have to pay close to a third of their total income to a single individual simply for the pleasure of having health insurance?” (Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com).

        As most struggling Americans can tell you, real household income has gone nowhere for more than 20 years, but we are told how everything is the best every. I call that brainwashing, and many had enough of it last year using their vote.

        Several internet hack groups have posted warnings to the rich that they have until the end of the year to make major changes, to make amends for their ways. I am sure that the rich laugh it that…all the way to the bank.

        Your children will be slaves on the plantation, make no mistake about that. The rich have the power and the means, and change (for the better) is not in the cards.

        • Enquiring Mind
          Jan 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          Fun with Dick and Jane, a movie from long ago, showed how everyone hated the phone company as the symbol of impersonal greed and banal malevolence. The movie also showed how Dick and Jane lived an extravagant life, stumbled, and faced repossessions including their leased house plants.

          Fast forward to 2017 and the phone company is replaced by any number of FIRE institutions, media, politicians and others. Dick and Jane wouldn’t be able to afford house plants, and would probably turn to growing their own to make ends meet or deal with the cognitive dissonance.

        • JerryBear
          Jan 16, 2017 at 11:43 pm

          I don’t remember the rich during the French Revolution laughing all the way to the guillotine. But then, they never thought it would happen. That is what our super rich think too.

  6. Dan Romig
    Jan 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    As I have posted before, the USA should have a modified flat tax. It may not address income inequality enough to make any change, but it sure as hell would be a fair system for Uncle Sam to collect tax revenue from its citizens. As of now, the Uber-elite pay less as a percentage than, for example, the public school superintendent of a large city, and that is fuc#ed up.

    1) Society sets up a ‘minimum living income’ per year. While it is a lot more expensive to live in San Fran or NYC than a fly over small midwest town, the baseline could be set at $2,000 each month. Baseline income should have no federal tax liability.

    2) Every dollar of income above the baseline is taxed at a flat percentage, say 18% or 20%. Why do wage earners pay more than billionaire hedge-fund managers? Because the tax code is skewed to favor them. Wages, capital gains, dividends and interest carried should all be treated equally in the percentage that Uncle Sam takes!

    TPTB will not allow this to happen under the political duopoly that controls this nation, but hey, I can put in my two cents worth on this topic. Any opinions Wolf and readers?

    Comment number 3 is my take on License tab fees in Saturday’s Minneapolis StarTribune

    http://www.startribune.com/readers-write-jan-12-street-lighting-license-tab-fees-al-franken-and-jeff-sessions-trump-and-the-news-media/410691205/

    • Jonathan
      Jan 16, 2017 at 7:45 am

      If I would add to your ideas: A inheritance tax that scales heavily starting from $10M+.

      But then again, these wonderful defenders of individual meritocracy and hard work will just going to game the system, business as usual, even if the laws are somehow changed in the U.S through some divine miracle.

      • d
        Jan 16, 2017 at 11:23 pm

        Inheritance tax, is simply theft, buy greedy envious, do nothing’s.

        And it is easily Legally Avoided.

        That’s why the talk of dumping it. It costs more to administer than it return’s frequently. Unless you go to Draconian low levels, like England does.

        But that is a socialist post war left over.

        • JerryBear
          Jan 16, 2017 at 11:51 pm

          When John D. Rockefeller died, 75% of his fortune went to estate taxes. Nobody at the time talked of it as theft. It was an understood thing that America did NOT want a hereditary aristocracy. Such a thing was incompatible with democracy. The idea is to not give it all to the offspring. Give them enough for seed money, but make them re-earn the family fortune each generation. It was a very wise policy and I think we were insane to give it up.

        • economicminor
          Jan 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          Jerry, We didn’t give it up. They took it for themselves with their money buying politicians and media telling the public lies about the poor family farmer and furniture store owners. Small fortunes (a few million) weren’t the problem, it is the really big ones.

        • Bob
          Jan 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

          If I’m going to pay a tax on the money I earn, kids should pay tax on money they inherit with no effort whatsoever. That’s all the estate tax does. It ensures I don’t pay more than my fair share of tax to make up for others. That is not envy, that is pure fairness.

        • economicminor
          Jan 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

          Inheritance tax is also a way to re-invigorate an economy by making younger generations prove their own worth. It was one of the first taxes imposed in this country to try and prevent an out of touch Privileged class from taking over.

          Isn’t that a problem here that the wealthiest Privileged run our country for their own benefit because money buys power. And to much money becomes a disease that can only be solved by having more. Sort of like a cancer. Eats the host until it kills it. Those 8 are close.. Now they own most of the assets they will need to take it from each other. Unless an upstart like Trump can take it all away.

          We have lots of problems but actually having a progressive taxing system isn’t one of them. There are taxes on taxes and the least of them are the income taxes which I personally do not believe that the Privileged pay. Trickle down is actually trickle up.

    • Petunia
      Jan 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Charles Murray, of The Bell Curve fame, is out pushing a new book on a guaranteed personal income. He proposes giving all voters 10K a year and about 30K of income tax free. It sounds good on the surface, but Murray being what I consider a despicable person, leaves out that the conservatives will probably think of a million ways to claw back that income. If they don’t rein in the predators all these schemes are worthless.

      • Titan28
        Jan 16, 2017 at 10:04 am

        You do notice that all of the 8 are very to the left politically, and at least 5 could be characterized as ‘progressive.’ See the irony? Why do they still have all that money and live that lifestyle when they keep telling me I’m the one with the problem? I have an even better solution. Let’s take their wealth, all of it, and the wealth of the next 100,000, kill them all, spread said wealth out all over the world….and what will we have changed? Right. Nothing.

        Murray’s proposed scheme would fail. E.g., pick a number. Why stop at $10K. Why not $30K? Doesn’t matter. What effect will the free money have on workers earning that salary or thereabouts? Would you keep working for X, if you knew you could quit and still receive X? Right.

        • Petunia
          Jan 16, 2017 at 11:53 am

          Murray proposes giving the 10K in lieu of all other benefits offered thru govt programs. Give up all claims and get 10K a year per adult. Sorry I wasn’t more clear but I only heard part of the interview on Cspan. He spoke about clawing back child support, but you could see they would take it all back eventually.

          The democrat party is full of crap, which is why I left during the Clinton years. NAFTA, the crime bill, welfare reform, Waco massacre, sex scandals, technology transfers, outsourcing……

        • walter map
          Jan 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm

          “You do notice that all of the 8 are very to the left politically, and at least 5 could be characterized as ‘progressive.’”

          Actually, you’ve been duped by their PR campaigns. Although it’s clear you’re part of it.

          You don’t get to be a mega-billionaire without being a ruthless exploiter, and that includes exploiting an effective propaganda machine.

          They all got rich through hard work. Somebody else’s. Why should they work to get rich when they can hire as many desperate wage slaves to do it for them?

        • Kent
          Jan 16, 2017 at 2:31 pm

          I don’t understand. How are any of the 8 in anyway to the left politically? Maybe we should define “left”?

    • Kent
      Jan 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      The US should get rid of taxes on income and sales altogether. The purpose of government is to create and protect assets. Therefore, all taxes should be based on assets. This would of course require those who own most of the assets to pay most of the taxes. Which is not something you’ll ever hear as an acceptable alternative.

      • Jan 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm

        I think you are 100% correct.

        But I think asset taxation is effectively unworkable :

        (1) People hide assets. Ask any married person going through a contentious divorce.

        (2) I cannot think of (a) a fair way to value assets or (b) a proper and fair way to index assets to reduce the effect of inflation. Hell, we cannot even agree on the proper way to measure inflation . . . .

        So while your plans has the appearance pf more fairness to those with less income, and hence few or no assets — until there is a workable process for finding and valuing assets — I am afraid that it seems unworkable to me

        Sorry, I do not really want to throw a monkey wrench into your quite excellent idea.

        SnowieGeorgie

        • economicminor
          Jan 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

          Why not just use a VAT tax?

          A little on all transactions..

          The more you do, spend, the more you pay.

        • Jan 17, 2017 at 6:47 am

          @economicminor

          “Why not just use a VAT tax?
          A little on all transactions..
          The more you do, spend, the more you pay.”

          Always been my first choice. That or perhaps a national sales tax. There are arguments back and forth favoring VAT over sales tax or vice versa, I won’t address those here.

          Ease of administration and fairness are two good points. And the collection points are already in place for the sales tax, just not national yet.

          I have always liked the point that people with hidden cash income buy stuff — and thus support the sales tax also.

          It seems that the choices are (i) income tax or (ii) sales or VAT tax or (iii) inheritance/wealth taxes ?

          Well, income taxes do not have a good record for myriad reasons. And the more I think about a wealth tax, the more of an administrative nightmare it seems to become ( just like the income tax ) .

          So the remaining choice is a VAT or sales tax, is it not ?

          SnowieGeorgie

        • d
          Jan 17, 2017 at 8:20 am

          “I have always liked the point that people with hidden cash income buy stuff — and thus support the sales tax also.”

          “even bank robber’s pay GST (vat sales tax.)”

          R D Muldoon A finance minister, and later prime minister.

          Inheritance taxes were originally justified in most states that have them, by wars. They were supposed to go away, when the war cost was met.

          When do taxes ever “go away”?

      • Marty
        Jan 18, 2017 at 5:11 am

        Sorry, Kent, the purpose of govt, despite what you were told in grade school, is for the politically connected to subjugate the masses. The purpose of govt is control and its methods are force and violence. A brief stroll through the history of mankind makes that more than obvious. Your instincts are noble, but you’re mistaken.

        Also, every study I’ve ever seen says that income taxes in the US are highly progressive. The top 5% pay more than half the income taxes. I’ll wager you’ll find the same with property and consumption taxes. It’s common sense.

        • economicminor
          Jan 18, 2017 at 11:30 am

          The 5% have most of the profits and assets so they should pay a lot more than those 95% who’s pay isn’t enough to keep a decent roof over their heads.

          The way you say it, makes it sound like most people aren’t paying their fair share..

          Also the little guys pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of their incomes in sales, property and SS, Medicare and unemployment insurance.. plus mandatory house insurance, mandatory auto insurance and mandatory health insurance… The 5% live like virtual royalty and the 95% live as serfs and slaves…

          And then there a people at the top who pay little of nothing because they are so big that the government can’t deal with their lawyers and accountants and basically just leave them alone.

          IMO the system is broken and not in a healthy way. And it isn’t the little guys fault.

        • Sound of the Suburbs
          Jan 18, 2017 at 1:32 pm

          An absolute monarch used to rule nations, then the monarch and the nobles (Magna Carta), government came in to make things fairer and we only got to universal suffrage by the 20th century.

          You can vote governments out.

          Without Government, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein would be running the US permanently.

        • d
          Jan 18, 2017 at 4:51 pm

          Without Government, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein would be running the US permanently.

          Without government there wouldn’t be a US.

        • Marty
          Jan 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          economicminor, I agree with you 100% on the unfairness of taxes, but my take is different from yours. The system actually works just fine, as intended, we just have to understand its purpose.

          Taxes are part of the control mechanism of the govt. The income tax in the US is aimed specifically at the middle class and the deca-millionaires (those who might one day challenge the 0.1%). Ask any accountant. Tptb want everyone on w2 income that can be monitored at all times. The poor pay too much in taxes, yes, of course, but everyone does. The plight of the poor is more desperate and therefore sadder, but everyone except the 0.1% and their pols are victims of the tax code, make no mistake.

          Taxation is theft, govt is evil. The best answer to this mess is a revolution of the spirit, anarcho-capitalism.

        • Marty
          Jan 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm

          Sound of the Suburbs, you have it completely backwards. Without the govt, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein would be doing something useful and honest for a living, like cleaning toilets. The only way these parasites can acquire their wealth and power is by using govt power against their competitors.

          WHO BAILED THEM OUT??? The federal government.

    • Pat
      Jan 21, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      About 8 billion USD annually. Pondering that.

  7. Entropy Increases
    Jan 16, 2017 at 8:24 am

    $20 Trillion dollars in debt in the USA. Taxing will not get us out of that. Many of you seem to be talking about the taxing side, which misses significantly more than half of the problem.

    Central banks are important, but deregulation and healthy lending should lead to growth. IMHO, fiscal policy has been used to prop up many other failed policies. There are so many pressures on wages.

    Compliance costs have a warped cost impact on big vs small companies and raise the barrier to entry, negatively pressuring startups. We need to encourage small companies, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility.

    • walter map
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      “$20 Trillion dollars in debt in the USA. Taxing will not get us out of that.”

      When Clinton left office with a balanced budget, the U.S. national debt was under $6 trillion. The ballooning is largely due to Bush II’s temporary tax cuts for the rich, which were never allowed to expire.

      Obviously, taxing the rich will get you out of it.

      Where did all that money go? Mouthpieces for the rich will assure you it all went to those billionaire firefighters and teachers, most of whom are struggling to make a living.

    • MaxDakota
      Jan 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      “Compliance costs have a warped cost impact on big vs small companies”

      This x100! We are a small business in CA and the compliance paperwork (literally hard copy PAPER work, many state and federal agencies have not joined the digital age) is simply crushing and getting worse. Just when you think you have a system in place, they move the goal post again. And 99% of state workers we deal with are hopeless and deliberately unhelpful.

      We have also been a target of CA’s desperate hunt for taxes. Received a notice last year that we owed extra taxes – we did not but still had to spend time and effort to exonerate ourselves (see above re state workers). Yup, even when we are in compliance, they invent reasons why you are not, and the onus is on the business to prove its innocence! Pretty f’d up!

      Are they going after the big companies too? Probably not because they are counting on squeezing a little extra out of those who are already so crushed by compliance they can’t muster the additional resources to defend themselves.

      Hello CA, wake up, you have a spending problem, not a tax problem!

      • Kent
        Jan 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm

        Wow! What industry are you in? Im guessing land developer in CA?

      • economicminor
        Jan 16, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        The big guys have attorneys and accountants to run interference for them so I doubt that the big guys even pay a small percentage of what they owe. Not only are they To Big to Fail but To Big to Collect Taxes on.. Just look at Trump saying he can’t show us his tax returns because of an audit.. BS… He can’t show us his returns because he doesn’t pay anything.. And that is because he doesn’t have to..

      • harvey
        Jan 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        It never will, CA takes the high road, it has the people and talent and location to generate enough demand that it will not run supply side economics. When you know that some of your biggest industries will never leave, like entertainment and tech, you can run your regulations and taxes to the high heavens and it will still be able to run. All the news you hear about business leaving CA are the bottom tier of businesses that requires less skill. CA is a welfare state, period.

  8. RD Blakeslee
    Jan 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Is there any merit in (for example) Bill Gates putting his fortune in a foundation, rather than having it taxed away from him?

    It might be argued that the projects funded by that foundation are more in line with what most U.S. citizens would support and pursued more efficiently than they would be by a government bureaucracy.

    • Meme Imfurst
      Jan 16, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Well, you need to look at the Tutors of England. Live like kings and queens sheltered from taxes.

      Suggest that you look into the ‘foundations’ those folks on that list have started, and see if you think citizens would support what they do instead of what they say they do. Take Mark Zuckerberg, what a sweetie he is creating a foundation for political change….now don’t you wonder just what change he has in mind? And look at Jeff with the Post.

      • polecat
        Jan 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

        ‘cough’ … see CGI for the template … ‘cough’

      • walter map
        Jan 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        “Well, you need to look at the Tutors of England. Live like kings and queens sheltered from taxes.”

        You forgot the 40 million quid per year the royals get in cash grants paid by their subject population. Supporting indolent figureheads is expensive.

  9. michael engel
    Jan 16, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Do you know what connect them (almost all )?
    They are all major owners of media.
    They are all obsessed with the coming of the next US president
    Donald Trump. They hate him passionately. Hate his guts.
    For them and other elite, he is illegitimate, a bastard Trump.
    Just look at the people that call him illegitimate, look at the
    elite locker room politicians and their, so wonderful media partners, they are so cute….
    Silicon valley became a major media hub. Media is what generate
    Free Cash Flow. The old connection with Darpa ring tiny bills.
    The shaping of our minds and thought is much more important.
    That’s why we start hearing a “huge sucking sound”.
    At the end of the process they will be less powerful, less rich.

    • Meme Imfurst
      Jan 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Not unless the meteor that Obama mentioned last week, hits us. Why is he practicing what to do if a meteor strikes? Why now?

      • Jan 17, 2017 at 9:01 am

        @Meme Imfurst

        “Not unless the meteor that Obama mentioned last week, hits us. Why is he practicing what to do if a meteor strikes? Why now?”

        The meteor might be a metaphor. FOR WHAT THE DOOM and GLOOM crowd foresees quite clearly. A catastrophic meteor — like the 10Km chunk of rock that probably struck 65M years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs BUT NOT ALL LIFE — serves nicely as a metaphor for the worst gloom and doom prognostication :

        Great shortages of food and fuel – – – and a huge fight for the scraps. Prepare for that.

        – – – – – – – –

        It is clear that if the GLOOM & DOOM assessment is accurate, that no government in the world can ever admit to it. The consequences of such honesty would be devastating.

        Rather, governments all over the world simply prepare for it ( some examples follow ) and prepare quietly :

        FEMA Camps
        Stockpiling billions of bullets for national security
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault
        Militarize the police
        Give the armed forces the right to use force against citizens
        etc.

        The government is always your friend.

        Trust the government, YOU MUST TRUST THE GOVERNMENT !

        SnowieGeorgie

  10. Petunia
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

    If you valued the businesses of the people on the list by the traditional metric of 10X cash flow, how many would still be on the list? Most of these guys simply have access to credit, as opposed to real productive businesses.

  11. MC
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I look at the list, and the cynical part of me says, don’t worry, it is quite ok because the American rich guys are all progressives who has pledged to give their money away. Not like any of them supported Trump or anything like that. They know what’s good for the rest of us.

    Not so much different from the robber barons of old who started libraries and donated to hospitals after all.

  12. Titan28
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I’m a big fan of yours, Wolf. I even read Big Like. I’m not even going to squawk about OxFam’s 7 point list. I did once know a woman who was an OxFam bigwig here in Boston. She had a barn with horses and a $2 million dollar house out in Concord and she never worked a day in her life. But she loved, loved the poor. OxFam was her life.

    Now, you might be tempted to say she was atypical. But if you step away a bit, and look at the list of 8, you find a list of progressives, 8 moral-intellectual deep thinkers who insist that socialism works (maybe not Slim, though he did bail out the NYTimes). Funny how when people like them quack, about the world order and injustice, they always end up on top. I’m going to send each of them a copy of Animal Farm. You might want to take another look at it yourself.

    I go through this list of causes for the alleged evil of inequality and I see some merit in it. A common thread, there are others, is too much government, which leads to de facto corruption: cronyism, lobbying, nepotism. These viruses tend not to have so much effect when government is more limited (Federalist Papers; Democracy in America, Milton Friedman).

    Big government has had its finger on the scale in the west for so long we forget things weren’t always this way. Who even knows how a freer market would work? The scale is so bent and broken—and remember! remember! — this thumb on the scale (QE etc.,) was supposed to help the little guy–it probably can’t be fixed w/o disastrous consequences, i.e., we stop QE we die; we keep going with it, we die. And you do note that the folks who made out the best in this QE world are the 8 men on the list and their cronies. Unintended consequence? One wonders.

    I find it hard to worry about income inequality, which is, essentially, a left wing or DNC talking point, when those same politicians who lament said divide are the ones who insist on policies that can only maintain or expand it. Hypocrisy, self-deception, call it what you want.

    You cannot as a politician or thinker champion policies that will exaggerate the wrong you claim to address (minimum wage increase to $15, ‘free’ stuff, etc.). Right now Steve Jobs’s widow is all jazzed up about fixing education in America. Forget her only calling card is her money. Forget there really is little wrong with American education (email me and I’ll explain) that a few deft moves wouldn’t fix: get rid of teacher unions, fixed benefit pensions; expel miscreants…shut down that stupid, meddlesome, hollow, and yes, evil Department of Education. The idea that agenda-driven stupids in Washington should be running America’s schools is insane).

    The rich aren’t rich because the poor are poor. When you push this you are pushing Marx’s ’emiseration’ thesis. You’re too smart for that. This is how the antidote works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahp7QhbB8G4 Many if not all poor nations lack the institutions and infrastructure needed to get out of their various hells. The west has spent trillions trying to change this, with some success, but there is a long way to go. IOW, Marx is wrong, Rosling is right.

    Sidebar: how much of OxFam’s funding comes from governments?

    • walter map
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      “The rich aren’t rich because the poor are poor.”

      Adam Smith disagrees with you:

      All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

      Wealth of Nations

      “Many if not all poor nations lack the institutions and infrastructure needed to get out of their various hells. The west has spent trillions trying to change this”

      On the contrary, corporatists have made trillions exploiting this. “Foreign aid” largely consists of corporate subsidies channeled through third-world countries. “Aid’ typically has strings attached – chains, actually – as the recipient can only spend those funds with the donor country’s corporations. Similarly, loans conditions are designed to guarantee the target country becomes another debt slave.

      The poor will always be with you, because the rich will insist on it.

      • Titan28
        Jan 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        No point in arguing. I’m not saying nor would I ever say that wealthy “corporatists” don’t make out like bandits. And I want the IMF and the World Bank dead, for reasons perhaps not far from your own. The debt slave business, alas, is too reductionist for me. Maybe you think Karl Marx was economically brilliant; maybe you think the labor theory of value was insightful. Who knows?

        Smith was by and large commenting on a world that was still largely mercantilist in its trade structure. He wasn’t talking about free markets as we have come to know them. He was also, largely, addressing himself to human nature, not economic man. Humans are selfish and greedy, in all cultures (sometimes they wear masks).

        The staggering improvement, increases in wealth and health, in the lives of people, and not just the wealthy, the world over (which includes China, India, Indonesia…) happened long after Mr. Smith departed for greener pastures. Smith couldn’t even dream what has happened. Moreover, he would have approved. Capitalism, dirty-handed, grubby, hungry, did this, not some Nimrod economics professor at Harvard or Yale, spitting out endless and ever more absurd theories.

        The capitalistic system has its flaws, not least of which there are winners and losers, in part that creative destruction stuff. But if you have better system–socialism?–let me know. You think maybe politicians should have more power? You want the world turned over to academics? George Soros? In sum, I’m tired of corporate bashing. I bet you have a nice place to live, food, a smart phone, car, and a job. I suspect, like Obama, you think the government did it for you.

        If you do, I can’t help you. The truth, no matter how dismal, is that the all but passing acquaintance much of the world has with life in the 21st century, is due to the west and its still free but starting to strangle in fetters market economies. Left to their own devices, many of these nations would still be utterly stuck in 2644 BC. IOW, bad as it may be for them, it’s still better than it was.

        • walter map
          Jan 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

          “No point in arguing.”

          Correct.

      • Sound of the Suburbs
        Jan 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm

        “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

        Mankind first started to produce a surplus with early agriculture.

        It wasn’t long before the elites learnt how to read the skies, the sun and the stars, to predict the coming seasons to the amazed masses and collect tribute.

        They soon made the most of the opportunity and removed themselves from any hard work to concentrate on “spiritual matters”, i.e. any hocus-pocus they could come up with to elevate them from the masses, e.g. rituals, fertility rights, offering to the gods …. etc and to turn the initially small tributes, into extracting all the surplus created by the hard work of the rest.

        Later they came up with money.

        We pay you and you give it back to us when you buy things, you live a bare subsistence existence and we take the rest.

        The surplus produced since the earliest agricultural communities was thus extracted by the elite.

    • JerryBear
      Jan 17, 2017 at 12:26 am

      Marx’s immiseration thesis from the first book of Das Kapital goes something like this: “In proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the labourer must grow worse. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation at the opposite pole”. A bit melodramatic I admit but it is pretty good discription of what is actually happening right now, n? I hope you are too smart to ignore the obvious.

  13. walter map
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Nick Kelly hasn’t chimed in yet to remind you that your complaints about inequality are registered here using computers ‘invented’ by one of the world’s wealthiest, all of whom well deserve their riches because of their vast contributions to humanity. Of course, he conveniently forgets that every one is little more than a rapacious exploiter of the inventions of others whose names you rarely hear, if ever.

    It is well you Yanks are having this discussion now, because next week it could be illegal.

    Inequality? You haven’t seen anything yet. It’s going to be yuuuuuuuuuuuge!

  14. Otto Maddox
    Jan 16, 2017 at 11:13 am

    The moral of the story: you can be successful by providing products and services that millions of people want to buy to improve their lives, but just don’t be too successful to get on the radar screens of the socialists.

    • walter map
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Do tell. When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked Why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist.

      For all their so-called largesse, the rich do manage to drive a lot of people into poverty. And invariably insist that their destitution is their own fault.

      Verily, the poor person struggling to work three part-time jobs has nothing to blame for their poverty but their own laziness. Isn’t that how it goes?

    • Kent
      Jan 16, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Well the moral of the story for those 8 are use your parents wealth and connections to build monopolies! Always a winning combination.

  15. Brian Richards
    Jan 16, 2017 at 11:21 am

    So, at the heart of this Oxfam report is the concept of “inequality”.
    We live in a universe of chaos and great risk. The slightly more intelligent great bipedal apes on this planet seem to imagine some arbitrary idea of equality. This is a distraction from the joy and privilege of living. There is no “human rights” or “equality”. Understand this and elevate your mind into the present.

    • walter map
      Jan 16, 2017 at 11:59 am

      ‘There is no “human rights” or “equality”. ‘

      Your overlords (and overladies) prefer it that way. Actually, they insist.

      The very existence of a ‘middle class’ is an aberration of history, and that aberration is about to be corrected, and TBTF will be sure never to let that mistake happen again.

    • JerryBear
      Jan 17, 2017 at 12:39 am

      I have a feeling that someday you are going to be dragged out into the street and shot in the head as a traitor to the people before a mob howling for your blood……..

      • JerryBear
        Jan 17, 2017 at 12:43 am

        Or maybe Brian, they will be singing, “Don’t worry, be happy!” While you kneel and wait for the bullet.

  16. Ishkabibble
    Jan 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Don’t worry, Elite, in the future SpaceX or VirginGalactic will be transporting you up to your new digs — Elysium!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSAS79fBVxs

    Meanwhile, all of your government slaves will be doing “whatever it takes” to prevent the 99.9% from organizing enough worldwide political power to institute a world-wide corporate tax of say a very fair 90% on large, international corporations.

  17. RD Blakeslee
    Jan 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    “‘…corporate tax of … 90% …”

    Ninety percent of what? Income?

    If so, how will you define and measure it these days, when “income” is avoided through “loopholes”, everywhere?

    .

  18. Erik Verkijk
    Jan 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Is this really a list of the richest people?
    Doesn’t being a shareholder in central banks for instance make way more wealth possible than billions?
    Aren’t there trillionaires by now? Seeing how trillions have become more and more normal when measuring debt?

    • walter map
      Jan 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      “Is this really a list of the richest people?”

      No. The richest people in the world do not have the trillions (with a t, and more than a few) they control listed under their own names. They do not even have incomes per se. They have their expenses paid for by their trusts. Most of their names are closely-guarded state secrets, but they’re not too difficult to guess.

  19. NotSoSure
    Jan 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    The strong lives, the weak dies. It’s true then, it’s true now, it’s true forever. The only law that’s true in this world.

    • Erik Verkijk
      Jan 16, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      In the end we all die. or am I missing something?

      • NotSoSure
        Jan 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

        Nope, some goes to eternal life, others go to a date with x number of virg*ns, etc, etc. But again it’s true. Jesus, etc wins at the end because they are strong, otherwise we would all go to kumbaya together.

    • Bob
      Jan 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Yes, and “strength” is generally measured not by how smart or able people are, but by how far they are willing to go in defense of turf. Provide a show of force, and others will stop their offending. Of course, that requires people to get out of their LazyBoys.

      • NotSoSure
        Jan 16, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        I agree with that. Never said “strong” = smart, pretty, etc. Could mean “strong” = desperate. But the tenet remains true.

        As Lord Varys likes to say in Game of Thrones: “Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick.”

    • JerryBear
      Jan 17, 2017 at 12:57 am

      Actually, it goes like this, “The strong take from the weak and the smart take from the strong.” Doesn’t the Satanic Bible go something like, “Blessed are the Strong, for they shall inherit the Earth. Cursed are the Weak, for they shall inherit the yoke! Blessed are the Wealthy, for the World is theirs to hold forever, Cursed are the Poor, for they shall lose what little they have!” and so forth. To celebrate the current situation and its logical conclusion is basically the same thing as telling us we should all stand up, raise our arms and praise Satan!
      The entire movement of the Left ultimately flows from the supremely radical words of one Yeshuah Bar Mariam (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) Trust me! The idea that every person, however humble was of supreme worth in the sight of the Almighty did NOT come from Greek Philosophy.

    • night-train
      Jan 17, 2017 at 2:44 am

      I believe Samuel Colt changed that equation. Your dismal law of nature ignores the humanity factor. We have a lot of capacity, if not to end that law, to change it in an infinite number of ways.

      • Sound of the Suburbs
        Jan 17, 2017 at 6:38 am

        That is the law of nature.

        We came up with inheritance and private education to ensure the children of the wealthy succeeded no matter how weak and feeble minded.

        • d
          Jan 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

          “We came up with inheritance and private education to ensure the children of the wealthy succeeded no matter how weak and feeble minded.”

          Wrong.

          We came up with inheritance when we started making tools. About the same time we came up with spoils of conflict/war. As suddenly the was more than hunting ground’s and females to fight over.

  20. donqpublic
    Jan 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    You know those eight heads all look like former Roman emperors during the Roman Empire. Put a toga and a laurel leaf crown on Zuckerberg and he looks just like Caligula.

  21. Joe100
    Jan 16, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    How much of the wealth of these eight individuals is based on the inflated prices of stock they hold vs. hard assets or stock prices that reflect inherent company value?

    • Bob
      Jan 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      It’s all in paper wealth like stocks. So long as the Central Banks inappropriately suppress interest rates, the paper wealth exists. The Central Banks seem intent on keeping interest rates low forever, so the paper wealth could last forever (or until a revolution of sorts occurs).

  22. Steve M
    Jan 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    “The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much.”

    I don’t get the above line.

    On the surface, it suggests that the incomes of the richest one percent increased by $546 a year.

    That doesn’t seem right.

    • Jan 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      The way I read it: 182 times of the richest people’s incomes at the time.

      • Lars
        Jan 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

        . . . while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 fold.

        Would this be a good way to say it ?

  23. michael engel
    Jan 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    The top 8, don’t be jealous of them.
    Some, their mind is dizzy already since they consume cancer medication.
    Some, the basal of their blood capillaries are clogged with
    excess – protein, and nothing goes through this blockade.
    The top one percent, are not doing so great ( )
    Their capital is in a Trading Range for a full 16 years, at the same
    level, since mid 2000. They just osc. around 20% of global assets.
    Their mark down will start soon. Their fortune moved up and improved, since Nixon divorced gold and Bretton Wood.
    One $USD kept in your grandfather vault since 1971, is worth 3 or 4 cents.
    But gold, in the mid 1970’s @ $110.00 is worth x10 more, but
    again, it lost a lot of value.
    Most DOW components from the 70’s and the 80’s are gone.
    But this time, in2017, everything it’s different !!!

  24. Raymond C. Rogers
    Jan 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I reject that wealth inequality in and of itself is a problem. This is merely envy and nothing more the richest x people will always have x% of the world’s wealth. Where is the line between the acceptable and non-acceptable to be drawn?

    Let’s not forget that the average house in the US has grown considerably since the 1940’s and the material to support our lifestyle is also a an exponential number. On average, we have more accessible health care and more choice in products. If we accede going to talk about these subjects and a “middle class” what are thee acceptable baseline numbers?

    This is not to say that when a majority of the people in country feel as if they don’t have an opportunity, there is no problem. These people often turn to confiscatory policies, even in the US, where the government is based upon liberty and personal property.

    Just remember when they get the guy in front of you who “has too much”, your next.

    • Bob
      Jan 16, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      When 8 guys have more wealth than 4 billion people, you don’t think it’s a problem?

      • Raymond C. Rogers
        Jan 17, 2017 at 12:43 am

        Tell me Bob at what point is it no longer a problem for you?

        At the rate people are breeding, particularly in developing nations and in the third world, having $10000 in equity may soon put you in the 1% bracket. I don’t even own my own home outright, and still owe more than half of a house worth less than $250,000 while modestly saving for retirement, and I still make it into the top 10% globally.

        Nobody wants to go against the grain of the PC world and say things like the Chinese, Indians, etc are overpopulating the planet.

        • JerryBear
          Jan 17, 2017 at 1:14 am

          You sound like they paid you off,. How much I wonder? In case you didn’t know, poverty breeds overpopulation. These people have no other form of social security other than their own offspring.

  25. Chicken
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    This should clarify who benefits from globalism.

  26. Lars
    Jan 17, 2017 at 3:46 am

    But why do we “poor” people continiue to buy the goods and services of the huge international corporations feeding the ultra rich if we are so dissatisfied? Is it because the man in the street is unknowledgeable? Is it lack of information? Lack of will? Lack of alternatives?

    It seems to me capitalism is starting to fail just like communism did. “Greed is good because it makes people set up businesses” I was told in school decades ago. But now greed seems excessive and borders are wide open. I wonder what will come after capitalism?

    • d
      Jan 17, 2017 at 8:00 am

      ” I wonder what will come after capitalism?”

      What you have now is not capitalism so maybe this mess is what come after it.

      Market economies, can not compete with state supported command economies, but they are being forced to.

      By the nonmarket, State supported command economies in places like Beijing.

    • walter map
      Jan 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      “I wonder what will come after capitalism?”

      Feudalism, gradually declining as the planet becomes increasingly uninhabitable. There are certain levels of survival your masters are prepared to accept in their pursuit of wealth and power, but if it is any consolation to you, their descendants will also revile their ancestors.

      Present trends and human nature all but guarantee it, but human nature is so dominated by self-deception, wishful thinking, and indifference that no change in course will be made, and therefore this unhappy destiny can hardly be avoided. It is already too late.

      Kassandra was never believed but was always right, so that the very act of prophecy ensured the fate of others.

      Sic fiat.

  27. Lars
    Jan 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

    The ‘Lars’ just above here is not me. [But why do we “poor” people continiue to buy the goods and. . ]

    This ‘Lars’ is me. [. . . while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 fold.]

    – – that said . . . here’s an aspect of the Super-Rich that wasn’t touched on by the Oxfam report; that of Foundations and Charities.

    [10 years ago, I wrote:]

    Charities as Cash-Cows for the Super-Rich

    Social convention would be much too embarrassed to question the accounts and books of a charity, and demand an audit. As charities do social good works, how could we demand an audit, it would be like looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. Any recipient of a free handout would be loath or crazy to question the financial books of the donating organization, and this is exactly what the SuperRich are counting on.

    In 2005 American Charities received $62.5 Billion Dollars, up 16% from 2004, CNN reported in October 2006. $52.5 Billion would be the 2004 haul for Charities. My question is: How in the world can they spend $115 Billion in two years, and where ? That seems like enough to solve both world hunger and the AIDS crisis; yet all the world’s problems continue to roll on unabated and undiminished. (Not to mention the many tens of Billion’$ they received in the decades previous, and since.)

    Does anyone ‘follow the money’ in the case of Big Charities ? Where does it all go ? And yet Charities have their ad agencies extend the proverbial ‘hat in hand’ for donations every time there is any kind of disaster. How much was donated to their cause for 9/11 ? , and how much did they actually give to the families afflicted ? (answer: a lot, and very little/none; respectively. Same for Katrina, the Haiti hurricane, etc, etc, etc.)

    In light of Enron and other big business scandals involving cooking the books and fraud, how hard would it be for the SuperRich to ‘cook the books’ of a charity and get away with it for decades ? Answer: It would be all too easy. Tens of millions if not hundreds of millions could be siphoned off every year in various ways, directly and indirectly, right into the pockets of the SuperRich and disguised as ‘pet projects’ or ‘infrastructure building’ for pet projects, because after all they are the ‘big-wheels’ running all medium to major size charities.

    (it goes on for 2 pages more, but you get the idea from the opening salvo.) “Call, J.G. Wentworth and be a cash-cow, 877-CASH-COW”

    • d
      Jan 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      “Charities as Cash-Cows for the Super-Rich”

      Should read

      Charities as Cash-Cows for the Scum who want to be Super-Rich

      and you are correct.

      Just like CND which became green peace as it had achieved its objective and wanted to stay alive to feed itself.

      The vast Majority of charity’s, nonprofit’s, and NGO aid entity’s. Are there to provide MASSIVE charity, to the people who work for, and run them. Perhaps 10% of the money they collect end’s up spent on the cause it was collected for.

  28. andy
    Jan 20, 2017 at 12:58 am

    There is a lot of dot com bias on that list. Is Jack Ma in top 10? What about Google guys?

  29. Erik Verkijk
    Jan 25, 2017 at 5:18 am

    No we are not equal and that is a good thing. Let us not try to regulate us into equality!
    But the extreme wealth inequality has come about because it is possible to buy unfair advantages at a certain level of wealth. The game can be rigged.
    My point. If we all had a fair chance with our talents to make something out of life there would still be differences in wealth but it would not be as exaggerated as it is now. IMHO

    • d
      Jan 25, 2017 at 6:16 am

      “My point. If we all had a fair chance with our talents to make something out of life there would still be differences in wealth but it would not be as exaggerated as it is now. IMHO”

      Best you talk to the leftist/socialist liberals, who create the situations with their Keynesian stimulus that allow massive Ponzi schemes to develop and run out of control.

      In their desire to take, from those who have and do not vote for them, and give to others,  who will vote, and keep on voting for them. As long as they keep giving handouts.

      • Sound of the Suburbs
        Jan 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

        Let’s work out what a meritocracy would look like from first principles.

        1) In a meritocracy everyone succeeds on their own merit.

        This is obvious, but to succeed on your own merit, we need to do away the traditional mechanisms that socially stratify society due to wealth flowing down the generations. Anything that comes from your parents has nothing to do with your own effort.

        2) There is no un-earned wealth or power, e.g inheritance, trust funds, hereditary titles

        In a meritocracy we need equal opportunity for all. We can’t have the current two tier education system with its fast track of private schools for people with wealthy parents.

        3) There is a uniform schools system for everyone with no private schools.

        The right talk of Scial Darwinism that could only be achieved in a meritocracy.

        They support low inheritance taxes, trust funds and private schools (and universities US) as they know their kids need the playing field tilted to the max.

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