Business
Robert Bridge
November 20, 2019
© Photo: Flickr / Will O'Neill Follow

Capitalist theory is predicated heavily on the idea that it is necessary for the ‘owning class’ to accumulate massive amounts of obscene wealth, which will then be dutifully reinvested, so the argument goes, back into the research and development of new technologies, thereby increasing labor opportunities as well as the wellbeing for the multitudes. Is this just an apology for obscene wealth hording? If massive wealth in the hands of the few were intrinsically good, then why are so many people in such desperate economic straits today?

Never before in the history of economic theory has so many people depended upon so few for their personal happiness and financial security. At the same time, many of those golden few are so filthy rich they would find it impossible to spend their accumulated wealth in a single lifetime. And since the Almighty only grants to each of us just one chance, that excessive wealth has become arguably superfluous, redundant and even dangerous to the fiscal wellbeing of the state.

According to the latest Forbes List, the wealth of the richest 400 Americans was calculated at a record $2.96 trillion, up 2.2 percent from 2018. Meanwhile, just being a billionaire these days does not guarantee a person status in the elite club. In fact, a record 221 American billionaires, including Michael Jordan and Sheryl Sandberg, were locked out of the running this year.

As of October 2019, there were 621 billionaires in the United States, yet another record.

On the global front, the super-wealthy are also on the rise. In January, Forbes counted 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories for a grand total of $9.1 trillion, an increase in wealth of 18 percent on 2017. Second behind capitalist piggy America was China, where the glaring discomfiture of over 300 billionaires in the world’s largest communist state is offset by universal healthcare and education.

Since the bulk of America’s beleaguered social services are paid for by the hard-pressed middleclass taxpayer, we really must start asking exactly what purpose there is for billionaires. Would the world even notice if the super-rich just all packed their leather Gucci bags and bunkered down in New Zealand, or maybe left Earth altogether on an Elon Musk spaceship to colonize Mars? Would Atlas shrug?

A good starting place for an answer might be the 44.2 million US college graduates from the class of 2018, which owes $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve. Just over a decade ago, the amount of outstanding student loan debt was ‘just’ $619 billion.

Or how about healthcare? No matter how many times the government tinkers with this heavily corporate-controlled sector they can never get the kinks out. In fact, between 2013 and 2016, the number one cause for families going broke was over medical treatment — even though over 90% of Americans had health insurance in 2016.

The state of America’s crumbling infrastructure also gives pause. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which tracks the every four years in its Infrastructure Report Card, US infrastructure in 2017 got a D+ grade. That’s the same grade it got in 2013.

The ASCE says America’s rapidly aging infrastructure needs an injection of some $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix the country’s roads, dams, bridges, airports, schools, and much, much more.

Eat the rich?

In his book ‘Capital in the 21st Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty wrote, “No matter how justified inequalities of wealth may be initially, fortunes can grow beyond any rational justification in terms of social utility.”

Presently, it is hard to any good rationale for extreme levels of personal fortunes, yet stuffing the fat cat back into the bag is no simple feat.

As Bloomberg just reported, “[H]ousehold wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.

To crunch the numbers a different way, those straddling the pointy edge of the wealth pyramid had assets of around $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, just short of the $36.9 trillion held by the millions of consumers who comprise the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile, otherwise known as the middle and upper-middle classes.

Since the 1980s, the percentage of national income going to the workers has been decreasing around the globe, thereby worsening inequality. “The billionaire boom is . . . a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the development charity, Oxfam International, as quoted in Counterpunch. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited.”

Much of the excess wealth sloshing around in the system has come courtesy of the Federal Reserve, which has been hosing down the economy with untold billions of dollars. Michael Snyder, publisher of The Most Important News website, has rightly dubbed it “welfare money” for Wall Street. In other words, to reference the well-known adage, ‘Socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else.’

At a time when so many people and families are living paycheck to paycheck, what to make of the news that Amazon, owned by the world’s richest individual, Jeff Bezos, didn’t pay any taxes in 2018? If this is the best capitalism can do then it would appear we are heading for a stark future, not just for the poor but for the super-rich as well. These sort of glaring contradictions cannot continue forever.

Already the argument that the excessive wealth of the upper classes will ‘lift all boats’ looks extremely implausible as many of those vessels are leaky lifeboats taking on water fast.

According to a report by the Brookings Institute, some “53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled….making approximately $10.22 per hour, they bring home less than $20,000 per year.”

While the destruction of the global workforce is happening, the global village is held captive audience to the whims of billionaires as they pursue their insane vanity projects. Take, for example, George Soros, who has taken it upon himself to destroy national borders with his Open Society Foundation, which has purchased over 200 “friends” in the European Commission.

In the United States, billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas casino tycoon, and the Koch brothers, have helped turn the American democratic tradition into a high-stakes crap shoot where the average voter is effectively excluded from participation in the expensive franchise.

This is clearly a dangerous time for the global economy when the intense concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands is disrupting not only the economic landscape, but the political as well. Would the world be better off without billionaires? Although the answer is a complicated one, many people may be tempted to favor salary caps for the extremely wealthy class unless they start seeing the advantages of living in a dog-eat-dog system that only rewards the few. Or, in a worse-case scenario, full-blown Socialism, as the Democratic radical left is now advocating.

The winds are changing, billionaires. Either adjust your sails or suffer a Category 5 storm in some not-so-distant future.

Is It Time to Ban the Billionaires?

Capitalist theory is predicated heavily on the idea that it is necessary for the ‘owning class’ to accumulate massive amounts of obscene wealth, which will then be dutifully reinvested, so the argument goes, back into the research and development of new technologies, thereby increasing labor opportunities as well as the wellbeing for the multitudes. Is this just an apology for obscene wealth hording? If massive wealth in the hands of the few were intrinsically good, then why are so many people in such desperate economic straits today?

Never before in the history of economic theory has so many people depended upon so few for their personal happiness and financial security. At the same time, many of those golden few are so filthy rich they would find it impossible to spend their accumulated wealth in a single lifetime. And since the Almighty only grants to each of us just one chance, that excessive wealth has become arguably superfluous, redundant and even dangerous to the fiscal wellbeing of the state.

According to the latest Forbes List, the wealth of the richest 400 Americans was calculated at a record $2.96 trillion, up 2.2 percent from 2018. Meanwhile, just being a billionaire these days does not guarantee a person status in the elite club. In fact, a record 221 American billionaires, including Michael Jordan and Sheryl Sandberg, were locked out of the running this year.

As of October 2019, there were 621 billionaires in the United States, yet another record.

On the global front, the super-wealthy are also on the rise. In January, Forbes counted 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories for a grand total of $9.1 trillion, an increase in wealth of 18 percent on 2017. Second behind capitalist piggy America was China, where the glaring discomfiture of over 300 billionaires in the world’s largest communist state is offset by universal healthcare and education.

Since the bulk of America’s beleaguered social services are paid for by the hard-pressed middleclass taxpayer, we really must start asking exactly what purpose there is for billionaires. Would the world even notice if the super-rich just all packed their leather Gucci bags and bunkered down in New Zealand, or maybe left Earth altogether on an Elon Musk spaceship to colonize Mars? Would Atlas shrug?

A good starting place for an answer might be the 44.2 million US college graduates from the class of 2018, which owes $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve. Just over a decade ago, the amount of outstanding student loan debt was ‘just’ $619 billion.

Or how about healthcare? No matter how many times the government tinkers with this heavily corporate-controlled sector they can never get the kinks out. In fact, between 2013 and 2016, the number one cause for families going broke was over medical treatment — even though over 90% of Americans had health insurance in 2016.

The state of America’s crumbling infrastructure also gives pause. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which tracks the every four years in its Infrastructure Report Card, US infrastructure in 2017 got a D+ grade. That’s the same grade it got in 2013.

The ASCE says America’s rapidly aging infrastructure needs an injection of some $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix the country’s roads, dams, bridges, airports, schools, and much, much more.

Eat the rich?

In his book ‘Capital in the 21st Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty wrote, “No matter how justified inequalities of wealth may be initially, fortunes can grow beyond any rational justification in terms of social utility.”

Presently, it is hard to any good rationale for extreme levels of personal fortunes, yet stuffing the fat cat back into the bag is no simple feat.

As Bloomberg just reported, “[H]ousehold wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.

To crunch the numbers a different way, those straddling the pointy edge of the wealth pyramid had assets of around $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, just short of the $36.9 trillion held by the millions of consumers who comprise the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile, otherwise known as the middle and upper-middle classes.

Since the 1980s, the percentage of national income going to the workers has been decreasing around the globe, thereby worsening inequality. “The billionaire boom is . . . a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the development charity, Oxfam International, as quoted in Counterpunch. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited.”

Much of the excess wealth sloshing around in the system has come courtesy of the Federal Reserve, which has been hosing down the economy with untold billions of dollars. Michael Snyder, publisher of The Most Important News website, has rightly dubbed it “welfare money” for Wall Street. In other words, to reference the well-known adage, ‘Socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else.’

At a time when so many people and families are living paycheck to paycheck, what to make of the news that Amazon, owned by the world’s richest individual, Jeff Bezos, didn’t pay any taxes in 2018? If this is the best capitalism can do then it would appear we are heading for a stark future, not just for the poor but for the super-rich as well. These sort of glaring contradictions cannot continue forever.

Already the argument that the excessive wealth of the upper classes will ‘lift all boats’ looks extremely implausible as many of those vessels are leaky lifeboats taking on water fast.

According to a report by the Brookings Institute, some “53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled….making approximately $10.22 per hour, they bring home less than $20,000 per year.”

While the destruction of the global workforce is happening, the global village is held captive audience to the whims of billionaires as they pursue their insane vanity projects. Take, for example, George Soros, who has taken it upon himself to destroy national borders with his Open Society Foundation, which has purchased over 200 “friends” in the European Commission.

In the United States, billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas casino tycoon, and the Koch brothers, have helped turn the American democratic tradition into a high-stakes crap shoot where the average voter is effectively excluded from participation in the expensive franchise.

This is clearly a dangerous time for the global economy when the intense concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands is disrupting not only the economic landscape, but the political as well. Would the world be better off without billionaires? Although the answer is a complicated one, many people may be tempted to favor salary caps for the extremely wealthy class unless they start seeing the advantages of living in a dog-eat-dog system that only rewards the few. Or, in a worse-case scenario, full-blown Socialism, as the Democratic radical left is now advocating.

The winds are changing, billionaires. Either adjust your sails or suffer a Category 5 storm in some not-so-distant future.

Capitalist theory is predicated heavily on the idea that it is necessary for the ‘owning class’ to accumulate massive amounts of obscene wealth, which will then be dutifully reinvested, so the argument goes, back into the research and development of new technologies, thereby increasing labor opportunities as well as the wellbeing for the multitudes. Is this just an apology for obscene wealth hording? If massive wealth in the hands of the few were intrinsically good, then why are so many people in such desperate economic straits today?

Never before in the history of economic theory has so many people depended upon so few for their personal happiness and financial security. At the same time, many of those golden few are so filthy rich they would find it impossible to spend their accumulated wealth in a single lifetime. And since the Almighty only grants to each of us just one chance, that excessive wealth has become arguably superfluous, redundant and even dangerous to the fiscal wellbeing of the state.

According to the latest Forbes List, the wealth of the richest 400 Americans was calculated at a record $2.96 trillion, up 2.2 percent from 2018. Meanwhile, just being a billionaire these days does not guarantee a person status in the elite club. In fact, a record 221 American billionaires, including Michael Jordan and Sheryl Sandberg, were locked out of the running this year.

As of October 2019, there were 621 billionaires in the United States, yet another record.

On the global front, the super-wealthy are also on the rise. In January, Forbes counted 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories for a grand total of $9.1 trillion, an increase in wealth of 18 percent on 2017. Second behind capitalist piggy America was China, where the glaring discomfiture of over 300 billionaires in the world’s largest communist state is offset by universal healthcare and education.

Since the bulk of America’s beleaguered social services are paid for by the hard-pressed middleclass taxpayer, we really must start asking exactly what purpose there is for billionaires. Would the world even notice if the super-rich just all packed their leather Gucci bags and bunkered down in New Zealand, or maybe left Earth altogether on an Elon Musk spaceship to colonize Mars? Would Atlas shrug?

A good starting place for an answer might be the 44.2 million US college graduates from the class of 2018, which owes $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve. Just over a decade ago, the amount of outstanding student loan debt was ‘just’ $619 billion.

Or how about healthcare? No matter how many times the government tinkers with this heavily corporate-controlled sector they can never get the kinks out. In fact, between 2013 and 2016, the number one cause for families going broke was over medical treatment — even though over 90% of Americans had health insurance in 2016.

The state of America’s crumbling infrastructure also gives pause. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which tracks the every four years in its Infrastructure Report Card, US infrastructure in 2017 got a D+ grade. That’s the same grade it got in 2013.

The ASCE says America’s rapidly aging infrastructure needs an injection of some $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix the country’s roads, dams, bridges, airports, schools, and much, much more.

Eat the rich?

In his book ‘Capital in the 21st Century, the French economist Thomas Piketty wrote, “No matter how justified inequalities of wealth may be initially, fortunes can grow beyond any rational justification in terms of social utility.”

Presently, it is hard to any good rationale for extreme levels of personal fortunes, yet stuffing the fat cat back into the bag is no simple feat.

As Bloomberg just reported, “[H]ousehold wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.

To crunch the numbers a different way, those straddling the pointy edge of the wealth pyramid had assets of around $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, just short of the $36.9 trillion held by the millions of consumers who comprise the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile, otherwise known as the middle and upper-middle classes.

Since the 1980s, the percentage of national income going to the workers has been decreasing around the globe, thereby worsening inequality. “The billionaire boom is . . . a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the development charity, Oxfam International, as quoted in Counterpunch. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited.”

Much of the excess wealth sloshing around in the system has come courtesy of the Federal Reserve, which has been hosing down the economy with untold billions of dollars. Michael Snyder, publisher of The Most Important News website, has rightly dubbed it “welfare money” for Wall Street. In other words, to reference the well-known adage, ‘Socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else.’

At a time when so many people and families are living paycheck to paycheck, what to make of the news that Amazon, owned by the world’s richest individual, Jeff Bezos, didn’t pay any taxes in 2018? If this is the best capitalism can do then it would appear we are heading for a stark future, not just for the poor but for the super-rich as well. These sort of glaring contradictions cannot continue forever.

Already the argument that the excessive wealth of the upper classes will ‘lift all boats’ looks extremely implausible as many of those vessels are leaky lifeboats taking on water fast.

According to a report by the Brookings Institute, some “53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled….making approximately $10.22 per hour, they bring home less than $20,000 per year.”

While the destruction of the global workforce is happening, the global village is held captive audience to the whims of billionaires as they pursue their insane vanity projects. Take, for example, George Soros, who has taken it upon himself to destroy national borders with his Open Society Foundation, which has purchased over 200 “friends” in the European Commission.

In the United States, billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas casino tycoon, and the Koch brothers, have helped turn the American democratic tradition into a high-stakes crap shoot where the average voter is effectively excluded from participation in the expensive franchise.

This is clearly a dangerous time for the global economy when the intense concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands is disrupting not only the economic landscape, but the political as well. Would the world be better off without billionaires? Although the answer is a complicated one, many people may be tempted to favor salary caps for the extremely wealthy class unless they start seeing the advantages of living in a dog-eat-dog system that only rewards the few. Or, in a worse-case scenario, full-blown Socialism, as the Democratic radical left is now advocating.

The winds are changing, billionaires. Either adjust your sails or suffer a Category 5 storm in some not-so-distant future.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.