The Eighty Richest People


According to a report from Oxfam, global wealth inequality is increasing while the rich get richer. If trends continue, the organization projects that the richest 1 percent of people will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent by 2016.

In essays I sometimes refer to the ‘power elite,’ or occasionally ‘oligarchs.’ They are all to a man, (men outnumber women 100 to 1) extraordinary wealthy, rich beyond compare, beyond  an ordinary person’s imagination. In real terms they are one and the same, they are all people who use their power and wealth to fashion political parties and governments in their own image, to have our elected representatives make life easier and wealthier for them, and us more compliant and poorer.

They want to control the political process, and so far they have been extremely successful in doing that: radical relaxation of taxes, dispensing with bank ethics and fair practice, the movement of funds internationally without constraint, and so on, and so forth.

Under them they employ technocrats to do their bidding, and protect their interests. Those are the ‘owned’ politicians, corporation and company executives, and shills, (those who mix among us to distract us from truth) wealthy themselves, paid to attack resistance to, or protest over, their privileges. These are the same people who tell us to endure austerity.

They like to call it global recession. I prefer to call it robbery.

Austerity. Alan Greenspan, served as Chairman of the US Federal reserve from 1987 to 2006, at a time when America spawned a kind of financial Ebola out of an ocean of greed and fantasy economics, a virus that swept the world, should be in jail. On retiring and seeing the disaster he had helped sow, he was heard to murmer that he was ‘surprised’ his light touch regulation was exploited by banks and financial institutions. “I thought they had greater self-discipline,” he said, without the slightest hint of shame or irony. Greenspan was part of the problem, a large part of it.

Earlier Greenspan had said, and I paraphrase, “Fear of the future is a good thing. Short-term contracts, unemployment, the need to pay you way in most things, wars, keep people feeling insecure. When they feel insecure they don’t rebel, they don’t demand an increase of salary, they don’t agitate for political change.”  Greenspan helped create the billionaires listed below. He is very rich himself. Sadly, he is not in jail.

People like you and me, dear reader, rarely get close to billionaires, but we can get close to the underlings.

For our part, the unwashed masses, the plebs, Joe Public, we are expected to be passive consumers. Life for us is endless advertising, over 3,000 different images  in a normal day, all asking us to part with our money and buy their goods and services.

If we feel angry or disaffected about being so heavily controlled don’t despair. We are offered a false democracy of participation in the form of safe, contained outlets to express ourselves, such as radio phone-ins quickly forgotten, your contribution cut-off if you go beyond a few minutes; television question times where politicians and pundits tell us what they think; newspaper columns, and internet chat sites where we can vent to no discernable effect. (You might add blogs to that list.) Though the technocrats say they take note of what we say, to monitor public mood, it is usually to gain statistics on which to build sales plans, what next to sell us, goods, property, or political chicanery. It is rare for them to do anything to alleviate our problems, or society’s ills, unless it benefits them in influence and power.

Anyhow, to the list of those eighty people hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people, wealth that has doubled in nominal terms — while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population has fallen.

Here are the eighty, their personal wealth represented in billions of US Dollars. You will notice Rupert Murdoch is impoverished, second from last, with only 14 billion in his bank.


More information on the Koch Brothers below in answer to a poster’s question…

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6 Responses to The Eighty Richest People

  1. Votefor Poodles says:

    Don’t wish to disagree with the sentiment of what you have written but real money doesn’t get anywhere near these lists e.g. Rothschilds , Saxe Coburgs etc

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    I understand your meaning, but the list refers to personal wealth as opposed to moveable assets, property or land.

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    Carlos Slim Helu made his money as a small trader then construction boss, followed by deals with telecommunications company and ITT back in the day. (ITT has a terrible record of complicity with juntas.) Once he made his millions he diversified, as we all do when we need to bury wealth so the tax man can’t get it. His main corporation is Grupo Carso. But he has a redeeming feature, he is a philanthropist. Don’t let the Mexican name fool you. His grandparents were Lebanese immigrants. He’s quite elderly now, with heart problems.

    On the other hand, the reclusive Koch Brothers fund bogus ‘think tanks’ and flaky scientists to the tune of many millions of dollars to dissuade us from believing anything of climate change, or anything to the left might be better than brutal capitalism. They divert us from truth.

  4. Brian says:

    Interesting and ultimately depressing article. First impression is how few of them I’ve heard of. They must employ good PR, to keep their names our rather than get them in.
    You mentioned the Koch Bros’ Think Tanks, any we should know about?

  5. Grouse Beater says:

    You mentioned the Koch Bros’ Think Tanks, any we should know about?

    Another list will just depress you further, Brian.

    Social democrats refer to Kochs ‘grants’ as ‘dark money,’ money making its way to election campaigns without disclosing its source. Reports into their activities allege that the think tanks are engaging in political activities that push the boundaries of their tax-exempt status without disclosing it, including lobbying activities, and in a few cases, outright political donations.

    Their aim is to put doubt into the public mind about progressive policies to the point that a body of people will be against implementation, thus allowing right-wing politicians to point to public support. A recent savage attack was made on Obama’s health care policies.

    We had some of that disinformation tactics in the UK in the campaign against smoking and health. The tobacco companies paid flaky doctors to write reports implying a link between nicotine and lung cancer was extremely tenuous, if not unfounded.

    When challenged, Koch funded think tanks usually maintain they are independent bodies. This is ingenuous in the extreme to the point of lying.

    The Kochs give money for specific ‘research,’ research proposed to the Kochs for grant aid, awards not given as a donations to do with as the institution pleases. The bodies invariably say it just so happens they accept money from the Kochs ‘among others.’

    Well, we recall the London School of Economics giving the same excuse for taking millions from Gaddafi, and educating one son in the craft of making money. That embarrassment happened during the tenure of the LSE’s conservative politician chairman.

    One ‘think tank’ is the Pioneer Institute of Massachusettes. Another is the State Policy Network. It satellite think tanks combined revenue in 2011 topped $83 million, in large part with funding from conservative money groups like the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which receive large donations from groups tied to the Koch brothers and other prominent conservatives.

    The State Policy Network’s associate members also include a who’s who of conservative organizations, including ALEC, David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Foundation, FreedomWorks, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation.

    Liberal Koch watchers – pun intended – nickname the Koch’s shady empire with all its tentacles the Kochtopus. (Koch is pronounced like the Scots ‘loch.’)

    The Kochs pour a lot of money in universities, (and a few museums) thus compromising the integrity of those institutions – sadly, a trend happening in the UK too.

    Other think tanks that received Koch foundation grants in 2011:
    •The Bill of Rights Institute: $350,000
    •The Federalist Society: $260,000
    •The Jack Miller Center: $250,000
    •American Enterprise Institute: $200,000
    •Manhattan Institute: $200,000
    •Pacific Research Institute: $100,000
    •Ayn Rand Institute: $50,000
    •Heartland Institute: $25,000

    The liberal Center for Media and Democracy note that almost all of Koch’s think tanks are, “strangely troubled by the fact that we believe in a more transparent, accountable government, policies that place a priority on free enterprise and consumer choice, and tax policies that are fair, simple and that spur the kind of competitiveness that puts Americans back to work.”

    ‘Nuff said,’ as they say.

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