Bill Gates is no longer the world's richest person.
April 23, 2001 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Bill Gates is no longer the world's richest person. According to the Sunday Times, Gates has been superceded by an equally evil supermarket tycoon.
posted by andrewraff (33 comments total)
And from the looks of it, Bill is so upset he's going to cry.
posted by dogmatic at 8:48 AM on April 23, 2001

says something about america and the rest of the world when a public school teacher in california starts at about us$30k and rosie o'donnell makes over $30m ... not to mention the fast food and retail droids who are probably lucky if they make $20k ... ain't life grand?
posted by dukejohnson at 8:49 AM on April 23, 2001

$20k for fast food? That's nothin'! I interviewed for a bank teller job once - they told me I'd be lucky if I made $15k in wages. If you wanted more, you had to sell like crazy and get commission. But $15k?!
posted by starvingartist at 9:01 AM on April 23, 2001

andrewraff - was I not paying attention when Wal-Mart forced people to pay for a product whether or not they bought it (per-CPU pricing) or threatened to give away all their competitor's products until they went out of business (Netscape)?

dukejohnson - between your post and the ones attached to the story about ivy league overachievers, I'm confused about who I'm supposed to look down my nose at and regard as droids occupying a lesser existence than my own.
posted by NortonDC at 9:02 AM on April 23, 2001

Everybody, NortonDC. Popular wisdom, eh? Just kidding. We all know better.
posted by mblandi at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2001

$30K to start sounds pretty good too me. Teachers have pretty good job security and they work about 180-190 days/year. That's pretty awesome.

Second, let's be honest here: burger flipping or saying "Hi, may I take your order" and punching the order in isn't exactly rocket science. One should expect to get compensated minimally for a job that requires minimal skills.
posted by Witold at 9:40 AM on April 23, 2001

so how much are rocket scientists paid? and how does that compare to professional athletes?
posted by tolkhan at 9:45 AM on April 23, 2001

If you don't like how much professional atheletes are paid, don't buy tickets/pay-per-view/products they endorse.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:52 AM on April 23, 2001


Let's get something straight about teachers. My wife teaches Kindergarten, with class from 8:15 - 2:30. She works about 55 hours a week, has 2 (yes, two!) personal vacation days each school year, has one-day weekends, and has to put up with hearing from non-teachers about how easy her job is. She has to take continuing ed every summer and go to conferences, so she's left with about 3 weeks of vacation. It's a high-pressure job, because if she screws up, it doesn't just affect some numbers on the income statement, it affects some kid's life. She loves it, but it is not an easy job for slackers.

btw, she started at $35k, and the pay scale maxes out at ~$55. As an accountant, I started at $38k, have 4.5 weeks of personal time, unlimited (within reason) earnings potential, and the only drawback is uncompensated overtime during tax season (which is finally over!!!). My wife works far harder than I do, for less money, and less opportunity for advancement. But she has much higher job satisfaction.

posted by OneBallJay at 9:55 AM on April 23, 2001

accountingboy: that may be the case for your wife, but all the teachers I knew in HS--either from class or personally--did not put in 55h/week, work weekends, or go to that many confrences as to cut into their vacation time substantially. Maybe this is different at other schools/regions. (I went to HS in PA.)
posted by Witold at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2001

Accountingboy -- your wife is truly exceptional in her dedication to her job. Although I know numerous teachers, and have nothing but respect for most teachers, I can think of very, very few who have "one day weekends" as you say ... and most career teachers I know have second career type jobs (real estate agenting is common) which they work every summer ... no way do they spend all but three weeks in "continuing ed ... and go[ing] to conferences."
posted by MattD at 10:12 AM on April 23, 2001

NortonDC: self-linking
posted by dukejohnson at 10:15 AM on April 23, 2001

was I not paying attention when Wal-Mart ... threatened to give away all their competitor's products until they went out of business?

Apparently, so. Wal-Mart is notorioius for using loss-leader pricing in order to force smaller local stores out of business until it is the only game in town then raising prices back up.
posted by andrewraff at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2001

Andrewraff - I'd be very interested in any documention showing this that you can provide.
posted by NortonDC at 10:35 AM on April 23, 2001

Given the tech sector's stock performance of late, this is hardly surprising. What I'd really like to see is a list of the top 100 individuals, by net worth, a year ago, six months ago, and today. I wouldn't share any tears for any of these people, but the fluctuations do bring home the illusory nature of wealth beyond comprehension.
posted by anapestic at 10:43 AM on April 23, 2001

Whatever happened to Larry Ellison? I thought he was the one in line to overtake Gates?

As for teachers, based on my observation from my University, unfortunately most of the people who are education majors aren't the best students around. Most of that stems from the fact that the smart ones are going into business or engineering or pre-med since that's where the money is. Of course, the best teachers I had weren't in it for the money.
posted by gyc at 10:53 AM on April 23, 2001

50K, 33K, even 16K a year is big bucks for Third World standards..... we Third Worlders wish we could deal with even the half of 16K... and cost of living isn't neccesarily lower than in the States, as it is usually believed.

can you say "screwed"?
posted by betobeto at 11:05 AM on April 23, 2001

Whatever happened to Larry Ellison? I thought he was the one in line to overtake Gates.

posted by holgate at 11:06 AM on April 23, 2001

I'd be very interested in any documention showing this that you can provide.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. vs. American Drugs, Inc.

3 Arkansas pharmacies sued Wal-mart for selling drugsfor below cost. While a lower court sided with the plaintiffs, the Arkansas supreme court found there wasn't enough specific evidence to infer specific intent to destroy competition under Arkansas's predatory pricing act.

Then there's Wal-Mart Watch, which discusses Wal-Mart's attitudes towards labor and environmental laws. Take it with a grain of salt, since they obviously have an agenda.
posted by andrewraff at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2001

I always think these things are skewed because they base a lot of it on the value of Microsoft stock. He's sold billions of dollars worth through the years and nobody tracks how he's invested and spent that. I think the 54billion is a drop in the hat...
posted by owillis at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2001

Personally, I'd like to be Robson Walton just for the sheer idea of pointing and laughing at Bill Gates.
posted by GirlFriday at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2001

Offtopic: Loss-leaders are an accepted retail practice. Of course, it's one that's more likely to be used by large retailers with large cash reserves, but there are no economic reasons why small(er) retailers can not use it as well --except of course that in a price war with Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart will win.

Also, loss-leaders are not (usually) an agressive weapon: they are a *promotional* one: Wal-Mart, for example, may promote a 24-pack of Charmin toilet paper at or below cost and then sell the bathroom cleaning supplies placed right next to it at 20% mark-up. Again, this is something every retailer does.

Finally guys, Wal-Mart may have taken "de-skilling" at a whole new level, but if you were familiar with the retail industry (I am, although I am not an expert yet), their business practices are widely considered to be best-of-class. No retailer in their right mind would think of competing with WM, not because of their underhanded practices (like a Microsoft competitor would) but because they are so damn good.
posted by costas at 1:15 PM on April 23, 2001

For a more academic look at Wal-Mart's impacts on smaller businesses, see the extensive Shils Report.
posted by Aaaugh! at 2:23 PM on April 23, 2001

Last time I went to Wal-Mart, they had all their markers, even the water-based ones, locked up in a plastic case that you had to get a clerk to unlock if you wanted to buy them AND you had to be over 18. And last time I heard, K-Mart was voluntarily editing CDs? Sure they're cheap and they make a lot of money, but what the ... ?????? Whacked.
posted by thunder at 3:44 PM on April 23, 2001

Get a grip, people. Much as I loathe Rosie O'Donnell and her ilk, and utterly hate sports, I do not begrudge these "personalities" the money that they rake in. It's called the free market - if my neighbor wants to blow $100 at the ballgame, that's his business. If advertisers want to promote their product on Rosie's show, that's their business. On the other hand, most teachers, being government employees, know what they are getting into from day one (financially), and I don't hear a rallying cry among the citizenry to raise taxes to give them raises. I salute them for their dedication to teaching (my kids have mostly wonderful teachers), but please spare me any tears over the supposedly inadequate pay. If the public school system were opened up to free enterprise (completely - not halfway) and competition, you'd likely see some skyrocketing salaries for some (but not all) teachers. And let's all give Wal-Mart a break - last time I checked, nobody is forcing us to buy from Sr Walton & crew.
posted by davidmsc at 3:59 PM on April 23, 2001

Most of Bill Gates's net worth is only on paper... What I want to know what his take home salary is. Also, I heard that Gates plans to leave all his fortune to philanthropy, and not to his kids (although I'm sure they'll have a nice trust fund). All in all, I see Gates as a better businessman than the Walton family any day...
posted by Rastafari at 4:00 PM on April 23, 2001

money makes my head hurt. and besides, it's all dirty. but i guess rich people don't have to touch it. they have people to touch it for them. bah.
posted by natasharama at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2001

Bill Gates 2000 take home pay was $639,000
posted by owillis at 6:24 PM on April 23, 2001

skellas: While I don't subscribe to the Wal-Mart is Totally Evil theory either, I don't subscribe to the It's All Good their either. I shop there as little as possible and have only gone back in recent months since they're selling more products of regional companies (such as Louisiana's Community Coffee, and in some places its specialty coffees rather than the sawdust known as Millstone). I buy things from there maybe once in a month, and I live in a small city where there are sometimes not great alternatives. I shop there only when they sell something I cannot find anywhere else, or sell something I can't find for a halfway reasonable price anywhere else.

In any case, my point was, the idea that Wal-Mart acts in a "free market" is rather peculiar. We're talking subsides out the wazoo, from city councils that allow municipal bonding to pay for streets Wal-Mart requests, traffic lights, turn lanes, etc. Then there are special zoning ordinances, sometimes passed behind the backs of opponents by having Mr. Regular Citizen buy property. The front person of sorts then requests a zoning change. Next, Mr. Citizen conveniently sells the land to Wal-Mart, etc. It happens all the freakin' time. It's incredibly unfair, and it's a joy to watch Wal-Mart get nailed for it every once in a while.

Do not think of them as the Great Big Box Retailing Satan, but do not fall for the typical "oh, it's just the American way, and God forbid that we should hold these good capitalists accountable " claptrap.
posted by raysmj at 9:13 PM on April 23, 2001

bill :(
posted by mcsweetie at 11:52 PM on April 23, 2001

last time I checked, nobody is forcing us to buy from Sr Walton & crew.

When I visited Herself's mother in the redneck heartlands south of Atlanta, it scared me that Wal-Mart was not only the one local grocery store, but also the main meeting-place for teenagers. Now that scared me. And it doesn't fill me with glee that ASDA is now under the same ownership.

In that great appeal to digital consensus, I notice that googling "Chik-Fil-A sucks" doesn't register the same amount of ire as "Wal-Mart sucks".
posted by holgate at 12:03 AM on April 24, 2001

Walton should call Bill Gates' house and ask if he has seen his friend -- last name "Ser", first name "Lou".
posted by Potsy at 1:55 AM on April 24, 2001

last time I checked, nobody is forcing us to buy from Sr Walton & crew

It depends. If you're unlucky enough to live in a small town in which Wal-Mart has located one of its famous Supercenters and subsequently has driven out nearly all competition in the form of local appliance stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, card shops, beauty salons, and eyeglass shops, and the nearest town with anything similar is 60 miles away, then yes, I'd say you don't have much choice but to by from Sir Walton and crew.
posted by daveadams at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2001

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