Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Super Rich

State of the Super Rich Some time next year, the wealthiest one percent in the world, the richest billionaires and millionaires, will control over half the world’s wealth. With about seven point three billion people in the world, one percent is about seventy-three million – which is less than the number of humans who will be born in the first half of 2015. The rest of the world gets to share the 49.9%. For Corporate America and the rest of the world’s corporations, profits are up, and salaries are down; profits are up because salaries are down. But it’s a house of cards. This is nothing new: the rich have always exploited the rest of us. It’s how they got rich in the first place, and how they keep getting richer. God must be so disappointed. We kill each other in His name, even though He said, “Thou Shalt Not.” We treat each other with disrespect and cruelty even though He told us, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We let poverty dominate the planet, even though He said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do to Me.” It indeed would be difficult for a rich person to walk in the shoes of a poor one, if they had shoes to walk in, plastic bread bags not withstanding. The millionaires and billionaires don’t care. They want you to earn less and spend more, increasing their sales while lowering their costs – always improving the bottom line. And if you have to use credit to buy all that stuff they will cheerfully extend it to you at an interest rate ranging from seriously to exorbitantly above Prime. They use technology to try to convince us to buy the latest gadget the day it comes out. It used to be that our needs dictated what manufacturers made or improved, and what technology needed developing. Today technology dictates to the consumer what he or she “needs.” But philanthropy lives! Yes, there are some among the Super Rich who genuinely try to help. The rest want us to help them. When they give, they think of it as paying another tax. One in three citizens of the world lives on less than the cost of a latte at Starbuck’s per day, less even than the price of a party size bag of potato chips. One in three. I think even the most die-hard Calvinist Republican would have to admit the poor didn’t choose their poverty. But we don’t see them, so they don’t exist. It’s just a number: two and a half billion. That’s about 3,400,000 for every single member of the One Percent. Joseph Stalin once said, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” He was a man who did not flinch at the deaths of millions. His power was all that mattered to him, and he would do anything to promote and preserve it. To say he was not a nice man is an understatement. His grip on reality was cruel but it was accurate. I do not see a change in attitude among the majority of the wealthy; the statistics they care about are economic, and humanity is damned to continue down the same road, listening to the echo of Stalin’s iron boot or, perhaps, a more subtle boot made by Ferragamo.

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