For ye have the rich always with you
April 6, 2021 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Forbes’ 35th Annual World’s Billionaires List: Facts And Figures 2021 — Despite the pandemic, it was a record-setting year for the world’s wealthiest with a $5 trillion surge in wealth and an unprecedented number of new billionaires. The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755 (660 more than a year ago). Altogether they are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list. Forbes, April 6, 2021.
posted by cenoxo (64 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
The one good thing about this is that it's such an obvious obscenity that it might help push people toward demanding change. Pollyannaish, perhaps, but it feels as if some threshold is being approached and maybe we'll actually ... cross it? Maybe?
posted by zenzenobia at 9:58 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


>it might help push people toward demanding change<

That is a lovely thought and I certainly hope it pans out that way. Too many people I know (and not wealthy ones) seem to oppose this sort of thing on the grounds that they are just temporarily embarrassed billionaires... (at least I can see no other logic involved)
posted by twidget at 10:12 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


"despite" the pandemic.

you see this construction a lot. it's eyewash.
posted by chavenet at 10:19 AM on April 6 [28 favorites]


“Well, this is horrifying,” I find myself saying about late capitalism, daily...
posted by Edna Million at 10:21 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Forbes uses the term “self-made” as a contrast to “inherited” and “inherited & growing;” it’s not meant to indicate that someone created a billion-dollar fortune all on their own. To achieve such a feat takes teamwork.
Awwww how sweet.
posted by fullerine at 10:23 AM on April 6 [19 favorites]


There are plenty of people who gush over sociopathic billionaires like Tony Stark--erm, Elon Musk.
posted by drstrangelove at 10:30 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


At #78, Gennady Timchenko is the sixth Russian on the list. His quote is 'You have to pay for everything in your life. Even for your friendship with the president."
posted by box at 10:34 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]




I can’t even imagine wanting that much money, much less having it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:39 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


I can’t even imagine wanting that much money, much less having it.

That's one (of many) reasons you don't have that much money.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:41 AM on April 6 [15 favorites]


To achieve such a feat takes teamwork

you know what they say: skimmin that mehrwert like the piss of exploited human beings collecting in bottles makes the dream work
posted by busted_crayons at 10:43 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


And luck. Of course, that's coming from an embittered, jealous non-billionaire. Real billionaires would never say that they are rich because they happen to be white men born in the United States with an unusual skill at picking investments, which "just happens to be something that pays off like crazy in this system." Wait, this just in...
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:52 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


When you see someone say they made a million billion dollars from hard work, ask them: whose?

Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States die each year from poverty, whether it be lack of housing, education, or food. Even more can be added now, because of covid. If someone is too poor to quarantine, or doesn't have their own transportation, or can't afford the ride to the hospital during a pandemic, that's also due to poverty. There's 724 billionaires in the US. We are, quite literally, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of people every year for those few.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:57 AM on April 6 [40 favorites]


WOOHOO!
posted by davidmsc at 11:06 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


it’s not meant to indicate that someone created a billion-dollar fortune all on their own. To achieve such a feat takes teamwork.

Well, of course. It's physically impossible for one person to produce a billion dollars worth of value from their own labor. The only way to become a billionaire is to exploit the labor of others, and/or the commons. Duh - there's no such thing as a "Self-Made Billionaire", and we should stop calling them that.
posted by mrgoat at 11:08 AM on April 6 [21 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "I can’t even imagine wanting that much money, much less having it."

"I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit." --Han Solo
posted by chavenet at 11:14 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Forbes uses the term “self-made”

It's worth remembering that, with the insane increase in wealth (especially at the top), there have to be a disproportionate number of "self-made" people. There just weren't people with this much money before! So statistically you're going to have a lot of upper-middle or lower-upper class filling out the ranks.

I haven't dug down but I suspect Forbes is using this to include anyone with a lot of uninherited wealth. So "self-made" would include Bill Gates, who went to MIT and whose mother served on multiple boards--through which she knew the CEO of IBM, a connection that was not irrelevant to Gates' first huge break.

A lot of people "self made" by the Forbes definition have multiple factors in their early life that are best described as happening to them rather than done by them. Forbes' semi-concession that they didn't do this alone still pictures them as the quarterback of a team, when at key points they were just the football.
posted by mark k at 11:22 AM on April 6 [18 favorites]


This "surge in wealth" is surging directly out of our pockets & lives and into theirs. A dollar represents one point and you need a certain number of points or society will just let you die early. They are just taking our life points away and hording them. None of us agreed to this.
posted by bleep at 11:52 AM on April 6 [24 favorites]


It's physically impossible for one person to produce a billion dollars worth of value from their own labor.

Or as President Obama said in his oft-distorted "You didn't build that" speech: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. ... The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. ... The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

But really, it's also physically impossible for one person to produce even $500 worth of value from their own labor. Strictly speaking "own labor" brings you to being dropped in the woods, naked. We are all benefiting from the community in which we were born and work, and the resources and infrastructure that we have to draw upon.

Certainly Jeff Bezos has contributed more to society than I have, and I have no qualms about him claiming more of society's bounty. But it doesn't seem unfair to me to have him claim a bit less than he does. And I somehow doubt that he'd have been less motivated if he had faced somewhat higher tax rates.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:54 AM on April 6 [12 favorites]


I don't have too many qualms about the wealthy having as much of the wealth as they want, provided everyone is fed, housed, educated, has affordable and accessible childcare, healthcare, and meaningful work available to them if they want it, and a social safety net for them if they don't or can't. Well, that and a well regulated system that reduces or removes the influence of money on politics. Oh, and enough governmental regulation and intervention to mitigate environmental catastrophe. Apart from that, go nuts, richies!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:24 PM on April 6 [15 favorites]


Perhaps it should work like video games: once you reach the level cap of 10 million, you stop earning real money and get 'prestige money'. Prestige money is exactly like real money for the purpose of dick measuring determining who is the wealthiest but can only be spent on cosmetic prestige items like digital art and naming rights to buildings.
posted by Pyry at 12:33 PM on April 6 [19 favorites]


Jeff Bezos has contributed more to society than I have

I don't know that "contributed" is the word I'd use.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:42 PM on April 6 [17 favorites]


It's complicated, with Bezos. For instance, people buy things, so having a company be optimized at logistics and switching to electric trucks (say) might help reduce carbon emissions, in the global aggregate, by reducing highly polluting single-passenger car travel. That's just an example. Another example would be buying a paper that was in worsening economic straits, at a time when right-wing extremism and fascist populism are on the rise globally, whilst having an almost entirely hands-off, pro-democracy editorial policy. On the other hand, his company is fighting unions tooth and nail, and it has long used accounting tricks to avoid paying sales and corporate taxes. For instance. He should be taxed a lot more — just as all billionaires should be made to pay their fair share, but don't — but there are shades of grey between the black and white.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:28 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen today was panning the NDP as completely out of touch bastion of the loony left, with the "inmates running the place" because of such things as members of the party proposing a 100% tax on all personal wealth over a billion dollars as party policy.

Sheesh. Why the hell should anyone single person have or need that much? The only thing loony about that proposal was that it was set a couple order of magnitudes too high.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:28 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Strictly speaking "own labor" brings you to being dropped in the woods, naked.

I think strictly speaking it brings you to either just after or just before the moment of conception, depending on the conditions.

The only question is whose conception.
posted by howfar at 1:30 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Mr.Know-it-some: "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in a group."

(said to be "an African proverb" by the Internet; whatever the origin, it's the thought that counts).
posted by chavenet at 1:57 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Billionaires tend to keep their wealth in the stock market. The money doesn't exist. It is hypothetical wealth that could exist if/when the positions they hold are liquidated.

I agree that high income people in the world, and especially in the USA, are undertaxed. I agree that capital gains taxes are too low - they should be at least as high as income taxes, especially for billionaires. However, arguing that billionaires are causing harm solely due to having large amounts of hypothetical wealth doesn't make sense to me. To the contrary, as billionaire's wealth grows (due to market valuation increases), so do the vast majority of people who invest in the stock market - for instance, pension funds and retirement accounts. Those billionaires aren't, in general, "taking" wealth from anyone, they are growing new wealth by inflating asset prices.

There is no "cost" to doing so, so far as I can tell. When billionaires buy stock, market price goes up, and generally, everyone benefits. When billionaires sell stock, market price goes down, and generally, everyone suffers. Coercing billionaires into liquidating their hypothetical wealth would have a nice benefit to government coffers, but would generally harm the rest of society.
posted by saeculorum at 2:07 PM on April 6


Bezos ex-wife is certainly making sure that some of his fortune contributes to society.
posted by Ber at 2:10 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Billionaires tend to keep their wealth in the stock market. The money doesn't exist. It is hypothetical wealth that could exist if/when the positions they hold are liquidated.

I keep hearing that, but then I see mansions and yachts and private jets, and I have a hard time believing it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:20 PM on April 6 [19 favorites]


To the contrary, as billionaire's wealth grows (due to market valuation increases), so do the vast majority of people who invest in the stock market - for instance, pension funds and retirement accounts. Those billionaires aren't, in general, "taking" wealth from anyone, they are growing new wealth by inflating asset prices.

Thank god that as billionaires steal the wealth of the people, their investments also help the upper class. A rising tide truly lifts all boats that matter.
posted by skymt at 2:27 PM on April 6 [17 favorites]


Seems to me if we got rid of this hypothetical fantasy money, that you suggest that the billionaires don't have, we would have very angry ex billionaires.
posted by evilDoug at 2:29 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I keep hearing that, but then I see mansions and yachts and private jets, and I have a hard time believing it.

The most expensive mansion in the USA on the market right now is "The One" in Bel Air, at $340M.
You can buy a nice sized Boeing BBJ 737-700 private jet for $75M, or an entire (commercial airline) 787 for roughly $300-$340M.
The largest yacht in the world is Azzam, with a cost of roughly $605M.

These are absurd amounts of money, but even they don't end up amounting to billions of dollars. For the billions, you go to the stock market, not toys.
posted by saeculorum at 2:32 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


they are growing new wealth by inflating asset prices.

What.
posted by howfar at 2:35 PM on April 6 [12 favorites]


The One holds another record for its sheer size. The quarter-mile-long Bel Air manse is the largest in the world, comprising 21 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a 30-vehicle showroom and five swimming pools. Extravagant extras include a four-lane bowling alley, 30-seat movie theater, hair and beauty salon, a 6,000-square-foot principal suite with dual dressing rooms, and a 10,000-square-foot sky deck complete with a putting green.

This is a bit of a derail, but why are the ultra-rich so incredibly uncreative? I can think of a lot more interesting ways to spend $340 million on a house than putting a stupid putting green on the roof.
posted by mrgoat at 2:42 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


Because if anyone with an imagination would do something else after the first few million.
posted by howfar at 2:45 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


What.

A hypothetical person Ann buys 100 shares of MSFT twenty years ago, paying (around) $28.38 per share, for a total price of (around) $2838. She keeps those 100 shares, and does nothing with them. Ann still holds those shares to this day. Right now, those shares are worth (around) $24,786. But, she only spent $2838 to get those shares.

Who did Ann "take" from to get the $22,000 or so she gained? Who was robbed by Ann to get that extra $22,000 or so? Most importantly... who is actually worse off now because Ann's investment is worth more money?

Does your answer change if Ann bought 4,000,000 shares of MSFT, and ended up as a billionaire? If so, why does the size of the transaction change the fundamental underpinnings of the transaction?
posted by saeculorum at 2:49 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's easy. Ann stole the wealth from the workers whose labor collectively generated it. The workers are worse off because they were not compensated commensurately for their labor.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:06 PM on April 6 [29 favorites]


Oh, that's easy. Ann stole the wealth from the workers whose labor collectively generated it.

But in that scenario... 20 years ago, Ann bought 100 pieces of (virtual) paper representing stock. Today, Ann has exactly the same 100 pieces of (virtual) paper representing stock. Outside of dividends (about $2,383 in this example), Ann has not made any money from her stock ownership.

Should we conclude that billionaires from companies that pay no dividends (for example, Tesla) have not harmed workers at all?

Or, heck, maybe we should conclude that companies that lose value on the stock markets should cut their employee pay - clearly those workers haven't brought value to the company.
posted by saeculorum at 3:11 PM on April 6


A hypothetical person Ann buys 100 shares of MSFT

Today's Ann barely has $100 to buy groceries, let alone invest in the stock market, thanks in large part to previous Anns pulling the ladder up after themselves.
posted by azuresunday at 3:12 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]


Inflation is not "growing wealth". If inflation makes people wealthy then WWII didn't happen.

Wealth is defined only by and in relation to economic activity, which is dependent on actual people doing actual things and making actual goods. Wealth is emphatically not a notional figure in the notional bank of Ann, Brenda, Carla, Zara or anyone in between. Wealth increases when more/more useful, things happen, or more or better stuff gets made/made accessible. That's the only condition in which wealth increases. It emphatically doesn't increase because someone added a 0 to a figure you yourself assert is purely imaginary.

To break it down simply, because apparently it's that kind of day, money represents the power to control the economic activity of others. That is to say, the power to determine who gets to work, where houses are built, what skills are rewarded, what crops are grown, what minerals are mined, etc. etc. If you place all that power in the hands of a few people, the entire world becomes shaped, not to the priorities of the majority, or even the interests of the market, but to the interests of a tiny fraction of the world's population. It is the profound imbalance of power, and the distortions of economic activity that it causes, which are the problem. It's bad for markets and fucking terrible for humanity. Not because billionaires are locking all the food and jobs away in bank vaults, but because if, where and when those things are available becomes dictated by the whims of a handful of people, particularly when those people are disproportionately the sort of sociopathically tedious knobs who want to rule the world.
posted by howfar at 3:12 PM on April 6 [28 favorites]


Ann has not made any money from her stock ownership

She has if she sells her stock for a $22,000 profit. That money came from the company increasing in value, which happens only because of the workers. Specifically, it comes (as Faint of Butt pointed out) from the difference between the value of the labor that went into improving the company's products and services, and what the workers are paid.
posted by mrgoat at 3:20 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


That money came from the company increasing in value, which happens only because of the workers.

Company profitability has almost nothing to do with stock valuation - that's the whole notion of P/E ratios, and they vary all over the industry. Heck, there are companies that have negative ratios, because the company loses money but still has a price on the market (even increasing price, sometimes!).

This logic also suggests, again, that companies that lose value on the market should cut their workers' pay. I don't think many people would sign up for that.
posted by saeculorum at 3:24 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Company profitability has almost nothing to do with stock valuation

No, but the stock valuation does have a lot to do with how valuable the company is perceived to be, a lot of which really does depend on the work force. Sure, a bunch of it also speculation, but that's also ultimately a bet in favor of the company continuing to do well.

This logic also suggests, again, that companies that lose value on the market should cut their workers' pay.

Companies lay people off all the time over losing market value.
posted by mrgoat at 3:30 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


You really don't want that much money - years ago I worked for a company owned by Paul Allen - he could not go out in public by himself - his people would organise board meetings on multiple different days and he'd show up to a random one with an hour or so's notice ....

The problem was that he was a kidnap target, anyone could grab him and demand $1m, which was chickenfeed, but people get killed when kidnapped, a lot .... I got the impression that he was very much a prisoner of his wealth

His yacht had water cannon to repel boarders, I was told they only had to use them once (going up the amazon).

Not trying to cry a river for all the billionaires, more trying to point out how different their reality is from ours - they really don't live in our world
posted by mbo at 3:32 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Who did Ann "take" from to get the $22,000 or so she gained? Who was robbed by Ann to get that extra $22,000 or so? Most importantly... who is actually worse off now because Ann's investment is worth more money?

In the last twenty years? She's a contributor to precarity and inequality on several levels. Ann's been compensated to the tune of $22,000 for having had money a long time ago - and her over-compensation is coming from the under-compensation of other people.

1) I'm not an expert, but as I understand it, some of Ann's money came from stock valuations being pushed up by the financialization of other organizations - in a more just world, public and private institutions wouldn't dismantle pensions in favor of 401(k).

2) Some of the sheer quantity of wealth sloshing around the stock market is also a side-effect of wealth inequality itself. According to this, Ann's MSFT profit is larger than the wealth of the average Black American household.

3) Our tax structure incentivizes long-term capital gains and mortgages, making it easier to hold on to wealth if you've got it.

The more I think about this question, the more alien and repulsive Ann's experience seems. Seriously: she's been able to leave that investment alone this whole time? No student loans, no significant medical expenses, no housing instability, nothing like that? Well, screw her, maybe she should be sharing all those thousands of dollars with people who haven't been so lucky.
posted by All Might Be Well at 3:51 PM on April 6 [8 favorites]


I got the impression that he was very much a prisoner of his wealth

If only there'd been some way he could have freed himself by getting rid of it...

More seriously, there's that old chestnut "What thing that we take for granted now will be considered utterly barbaric in 500 years?" that comes up every now and again, and people usually answer something to do with climate change or the food industry, but my answer is that I think in 500 years we will understand that uncontrolled greed - the drive to acquire more long past the point where that "more" has any sort of useful value for you - as a mental illness not unlike alcoholism or any other sort of addiction. The body of research on the ways wealth messes with peoples minds is steadily increasing, and I like to hope/imagine that 500 years from now people will look back on letting billionaires have such an outsized influence on the world as utter madness not at all unlike putting an alcoholic who's deep into a bender in charge of a cruise ship full of passengers in the middle of a storm. I really do think most of the people on this list need help, the same way any other addict needs help.
posted by mstokes650 at 4:12 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]


They think themselves whales, but they're Ahabs to the last.

Dicks, however, nonetheless.
posted by howfar at 4:20 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


I'd like to point out that much of Ann's $22,000 can be explained by the risk reward curve.

Risk Free = earning 1% pa putting your money in the bank
Lowest Risk = earning 2% pa putting your money in fixed deposit
Low Risk = earning 5% pa putting your money in property
Medium Risk = earning 7% pa putting your money in blue ship shares
High risk = earning 25% pa putting your money in speculative tech shares

Each of these risk / reward categories becomes mathematically equivalent once you factor in the probability of loss. Ann didn't cheat the system by putting her money in the High Risk category, that was just what the company in the High Risk category was forced to offer investors in order to attract funding due to their risk of failure. Numerous other people invested in high risk tech shares and lost most of their investment. Just picking on Ann is like looking at someone who won the lottery and concluding that buying lottery tickets is a sound investment decision and the system is rigged against those who didn't.
posted by xdvesper at 4:23 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Who did Ann "take" from to get the $22,000 or so she gained?

Let's put it another way. Jane gives her buddy $1000 to get in on the ground floor of an import deal. It turns out the "import" is cocaine and her "buddy" belongs to a cartel. She doesn't kill or bribe or extort anyone, she simply gives her friend $1000.

Who did Jane "take" from to get the $100k she gained?
posted by klanawa at 4:43 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Oh, that's easy. Ann stole the wealth from the workers whose labor collectively generated it. The workers are worse off because they were not compensated commensurately for their labor.

Those MSFT workers done fucked up if all they have to show for their two decades of RSUs is a paltry $20k

However, and I know it doesn't fit your narrative, but in real life those MSFT employees you are so sad for raked in 7 figures to Ann's $20k, so you can safely dry your eyes.
posted by sideshow at 4:45 PM on April 6


Those MSFT workers done fucked up if all they have to show for their two decades of RSUs is a paltry $20k

Over half of MSFT workers are contractors that earn no RSUs - and being a contractor at MSFT is not the best gig in the world, even if they are software engineer contractors.
posted by saeculorum at 4:54 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Let's stop using the word 'billion' (and 'trillion', for that matter). Two billion sounds like ... two. Not that big a number.

I suspect that not many people could tell you what a billion was, beyond 'more than a million'. A trillion is 'more than a billion'.

I think these people though have a sense of what a million is. There might be a million dollar piece of real estate in their city.

Instead of two billion, say two thousand million.

Instead of two trillion, say two million millions.
posted by jjderooy at 4:58 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in a group."

What's weird about that proverb is the implied optimal solution for an individual is messed up. Assuming we have some money-space where businesses live and that there are some common targets that are also not particularly close, the optimal policy would be to travel together towards the target and then fuck over your group when you're within individual rush distance.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 5:02 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Over half of MSFT workers are contractors that earn no RSUs

Since the reason no one has long term contractors (permatemps) anymore is a case literally named "Vizcaino v Microsoft", you can rest easy about 20 year contractors not earning any RSUs.
posted by sideshow at 5:06 PM on April 6


Each of these risk / reward categories becomes mathematically equivalent once you factor in the probability of loss.

And there's the trick right there. "Don't get mad, they're just taking on a greater share of risk & should be compensated accordingly". And if it were just adrenaline-hungry daytraders, perhaps that'd be alright. Or at least more-alright.

But as we're seeing here, and in the current "oh no, index funds are worse than Marxism" thread, institutional thirst for return is at such a point that it's sloshing around & looking for greater & greater returns; and everybody in the wake is forced to either join in the escalation of risk or sink under the waves.

I'm pretty sure most people forced into the market aren't looking for risk as much as trying to survive. And it's no surprise that with that forced assumption of risk comes a lot of people who profit handily by that same risk.

The 'lottery', as it were, is not some neutral body with fundamental laws discovered but untainted by human concern. Its structure & very existence is constructed. The purpose of a system is what it does, after all. So what's this system doing?
posted by CrystalDave at 5:06 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


If so, why does the size of the transaction change the fundamental underpinnings of the transaction?

The parsimonious answer is "Marginal utility of money".
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 5:10 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


If so, why does the size of the transaction change the fundamental underpinnings of the transaction?

I cut down one tree in a forest. It opens up the canopy and allows for new growth and organisms that need open canopy areas to thrive to move in, enriching the area. I cut down a billion trees. Why does the size of the transaction change the fundamental underpinnings of the transaction?
posted by fimbulvetr at 5:17 PM on April 6 [9 favorites]


Donald Trump Tumbles Nearly 300 Spots In Billionaire Ranks — The former president, who prides himself on his business acumen, refused to divest his assets upon taking office. Had he sold out in 2017 and reinvested in the market, he’d be an estimated $1.6 billion richer., Forbes, Dan Alexander, April 6, 2021:
From the time he entered the White House in January 2017 to his departure a few months ago, Donald Trump’s fortune fell by nearly a third, from $3.5 billion to $2.4 billion. The S&P 500, meanwhile, increased 70%.

Every investor at some point has kicked himself for holding an asset too long. Perhaps none, however, has made such a monumental miscalculation. By refusing to divest his portfolio upon taking office, Trump bogged down his presidency with ethics issues for years, while also missing a chance to cash in on a market boom he helped propel.
...
As is, he is worth an estimated $2.4 billion, enough to qualify for No. 1,299 on the Forbes billionaires list, down from No. 1,001 last year. Trump is actually richer than he was a year ago, when we knocked valuations down at the start of the pandemic, but he couldn’t keep up with the other billionaires on the list, whose fortunes soared.
Alas, the Artful Dealer didn't know when to hold 'em, fold 'em, walk away, or run.
posted by cenoxo at 6:50 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


It's cute how Forbes "deconstructs" the myth of the self made billionaire but not the logic that the guy at the top gets to keep 90% of the profits. If they're not uniquely responsible for the "creation" (theft) of all that wealth, then why are they uniquely rewarded with it? This is rhetorical.
posted by Reyturner at 6:59 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Mark Twain, “The Revised Catechism”, New York Tribune, September 27, 1871*:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To get rich.

Q. In what way?
A. Dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.

Q. Who is God, the one only and true?
A. Money is God. God and Greenbacks and Stock — father, son, and the ghost of same — three persons in one; these are the true and only God, mighty and supreme; and William Tweed is his prophet.

Q. How shall a man attain the chief end of life?
A. By furnishing imaginary carpets to the Court-House; apocryphal chairs to the armories, and invisible printing to the city....
*From the Internet Archive — full text of “Mark Twain: Social Critic”, Philip S. Foner, 1958.
posted by cenoxo at 5:45 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


The menu is getting longer
posted by adoarns at 3:01 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


The Forbes billionaire list makes me hungry. The sizzle of a nicely marbled sirloin on the grill, no other sound compares.
posted by Lyme Drop at 4:18 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


'Meet the Man Who Founded General Motors and Wound Up Running a Bowling Alley'
posted by clavdivs at 10:58 PM on April 7


My life would be infinitely happier if I had 500K-1M right now. I’d love to buy a couple expensive things for myself (a home!) and then intelligently invest the rest of it so I can both have a livable income and donate a lot. At the same time I can’t even imagine wanting, much less needing, many millions or billions. Why do these people think that they can’t do anything more productive or helpful or compassionate with it than rolling around in it pantsless all Scrooge McDuck style?
posted by bendy at 1:44 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


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