You blame the 1%. I blame your addictions. Not just the obvious ones: alcohol, gambling, sugar, tobacco, banned substances. I’m thinking of shopping, fast food, social media, partying, entertainment, watching sport.
Surprising fact: the top 1%, globally, includes most USA and UK middle income earners, including me (according to globalrichlist.com). Even in the USA you only have to be earning $422k annually, or own assets totaling $770k, to be in the top 1%. (according to investopedia.com)
So who are the mega rich?
According to Forbes, widely regarded as the best source for such information, these are the top ten:
- #1 Jeff Bezos: Owner of internet retail giant Amazon
- #2 Bill Gates: Founder of Microsoft
- #3 Warren Buffet: Owner of Berkshire Hathaway which in turn owns several well known brands including Duracell, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom.
- #4 Bernard Arnault: chairman of world’s largest luxury goods company.
- #5 Mark Zuckerberg: founder of Facebook, which now owns Instagram
- #6 Amancio Ortega: owner of European retail fashion chain that includes Zara
- #7 Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican entrepreneur, controls Latin America’s biggest telecoms company
- #8 Charles Koch: Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries with interests in pipelines, chemicals and more. He and brother David each own 42% of this, the USA’s second largest private company.
- #10 Larry Ellison: Co-founder of software company Oracle.
All of these, with the possible exception of the Koch Brothers, make their money from feeding those addictions.
Without telecoms and software you would not be able to surf the internet. Without software, modern fast-turnover retailing would grind to a halt.
Without software, on-line gambling and the networks of casinos and betting shops would not be possible.
Those of us old enough to remember, know how shops and gambling operated 50 years ago. Before the inter-connectivity and specialized software we take for granted, the vast turn-over handled by such businesses today would be impossible.
So if you think it’s obscene that these people, and a few hundred others, are supper rich you have the power to stop them: just curb your addictions. Consume less of everything except the things you really need.
I often say of the super rich that they create jobs and that is true.
But croupiers don’t build the houses the homeless need;
warehouse operators aren’t nursing the sick;
app designers aren’t growing and transporting food for the starving.
Taxing the super-rich could enable the state to fund more house building, more hospitals, more food production and distribution but it doesn’t. And not just because the super-rich don’t pay their taxes. Governments rarely prioritize such things. In the West’s largest economies those things are left to the private sector.
If entrepreneurs were able to make more money from producing the goods the poorest in the world need than they do from feeding the addictions of the 1% like you and me, they would be quick to do so.
Meanwhile most of them are philanthropists who do try to put their wealth to good uses — at least as good uses as any state agency would.