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.
|2||Carlos Slim Helu||$72||Mexico||Telecom|
|14||S. Robson Walton||$34||USA||Retail|
|20||Li Ka-shing||$31||Hong Kong||Diversified|
|28||Lui Che Woo||$22||Hong Kong||Entertainment|
|30||Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud||$20||Saudi Arabia||Finance|
|31||Forrest Mars Jr.||$20||USA||Food|
|34||Jorge Paulo Lemann||$20||Brazil||Drinks|
|35||Lee Shau Kee||$20||Hong Kong||Diversified|
|37||Theo Albrecht Jr.||$19||Germany||Retail|
|38||Leonardo Del Vecchio||$19||Italy||Luxury|
|54||Cheng Yu-tung||$16||Hong Kong||Diversified|
|58||Anne Cox Chambers||$16||USA||Media|
|62||Mohammed Al Amoudi||$15||Saudi Arabia||Extractives|
|64||Wang Jianlin||$15||China||Real Estate|
|67||Germán Larrea Mota Velasco||$15||Mexico||Extractives|
|70||Donald Bren||$14||USA||Real Estate|
|72||Luis Carlos Sarmiento||$14||Colombia||Finance|
|74||Laurene Powell Jobs||$14||USA||Entertainment|
More information on the Koch Brothers below in answer to a poster’s question…