Via Zero Hedge:
A new Oxfam report indicating that the wealthiest one per cent possesses about half of the world’s wealth has left the richest people in the world “reeling with disappointment,” a leading billionaire said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, the hedge-find owner Harland Dorrinson said, “I think I speak for a lot of my fellow billionaires when I say I thought we were doing a good deal better than that.”
Calling the Oxfam findings “sobering,” he said that he hoped they would serve “as a wake-up call to billionaires everywhere that it’s time to up our game.”
“Quite frankly, a lot of us thought that by buying politicians, rewriting tax laws, and hiding money overseas, we were getting it done,”…..
Satire, of course. But what if the one percent went on to possess all the world’s wealth? Where ‘wealth’ means money and purchasing power? I suppose it would mean we would all be their employees. Or their serfs.
And all the politicians would be bought, and all the laws would been be bought as well.
But if they at present possess half the world’s wealth (and I have no idea whether they actually do or not), doesn’t that mean that they already own half the politicians, and half the laws?
I never understand the super-rich. To my way of thinking, there is a point where I have enough money, and I don’t want any more. And for most of my life I just about had enough. But the super-rich always seem to want only to get richer. For them, making money has become an end in itself.
About 50 years ago, the world’s then-richest man, J Paul Getty, lived in England in a suitably palatial country house. He was interviewed on TV once or twice, and came across as the most dull and boring person imaginable. One particularly memorable feature of his country house was that it included a public telephone box, for guests to use rather than run up expensive calls on Getty’s own phone.
And that’s really how wealth is acquired. By cutting down on expenses like phone calls. “Take care of the pennies,” the old adage goes, “And the pounds will look after themselves.”
I gained the impression that J Paul Getty didn’t smoke, and didn’t drink, and didn’t party. He did however possess a considerable art collection, now housed in the Getty Museum. I don’t know whether he collected art because he liked art, or because (ahead of his time perhaps) he saw it as a good investment. I suspect, given his awful taste in furniture, that it was the latter.
And there seem to be a lot of super-rich people cast in the same mould. John D Rockefeller was one. Michael Bloomberg is another. Bill Gates a third. There seem to be very few bon-vivant billionaires. Perhaps for the simple reason that bon-vivant billionaires are unlikely to remain billionaires for long. It’s the miserly penny-pinching billionaires with public telephones in their houses that stay rich. And that keep getting richer.
And when they die, they leave ‘philanthropic’ foundations which promote their values. The Rockefeller foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. And these foundations – in tandem with all the other extant miserly, mal-vivant billionaires – gradually buy up the politicians, and buy smoking bans and alcohol bans and soda bans. Because they want to make people into skinflints just like themselves.
So maybe we’re now at a point in time when the billionaires have got half the world’s wealth, and are busy using it to promote their puritanical values, with things like smoking bans.
And what happens then?
When we’ve all become skinflints, we all stop spending. Sales of everything tail off. Prices fall, as deflation sets in. Businesses go bust, and the world descends into economic depression. And everyone gets poorer.
Including the billionaires, as the industries they own go broke, and their investment income streams dry up. And they cease to be able to buy politicians or buy laws. And it takes another 70 years before a new bunch of skinflints have accumulated half the world’s wealth once again, and started to spend it on buying politicians and laws all over again.
Well, it’s one explanation, isn’t it?