Monday, March 12, 2007

The Forbes 4,000,000,000! Let's Hear it for Trickle-Up!

Huffington Post
Tony Hendra
The Forbes 4,000,000,000! Let's Hear it for Trickle-Up!

Once again it's that time of year when Forbes reminds us that over the last 12 months the poor got poorer and the rich much, much richer! The total collective net worth (real property, liquid assets, stocks, jewelry, artwork, slaves) of the world's 946 billionaires, was way up over 2006 for a grand total of $3.5 ter-illion!
Way to go, robber barons and baronesses!

Amusingly the total collective net worth (see above) of the world's four billion poorest plunged for the twentieth year running, to an all-time low of just under 35 bucks! For you Eng-Lit majors that's a barely measurable one-hundred-billionth of what the big guys have stashed in Monaco, Geneva and Grand Cayman. Surging oil prices, protectionist G8 food and cotton subsidies, over-fishing by global fleets, privatization of local water supplies, environmental die-offs of crops, animals and marine life due to climate change, all combined to widen the global income-gap to historic proportions! Break out the Cristal, you red-suspender hedge-funders!

Meet just two of the Forbes Four Billion Poorest, those pathetic, scarcely sentient humans who form the fastest growing segment of the global economy and whose pathetic few coins trickling up the global opportunity pyramid (or GOP) helped make those 946 'self-made' men the financial titans they are!

#2,445,616,179: Lakshmi Patel 33, Calcutta, India. Net worth: one obsolete 1966 3-paisa piece (face value $.0016) which was his wife's dowry. Lakshmi grew up in northern India, eighth son of a subsistence lentil farmer, dispossessed in an illegal real-estate grab by corrupt Congress Party officials. His land was converted into a landing strip for Transmile Group, the global air-freight company owned by Malaysian Robert Kuok (net worth $7.0 billion; world's #104 richest man). Lakshmi now makes his home in slums of Calcutta with his wife and seven children, the smallest of whom the family was recently forced to eat. For shelter they've scavenged a sheet of rusty steel manufactured by Lakshmi's namesake and countryman, Lakshmi Mittal (Net worth $32 billion, world's #5 richest man). Says Patel:"I thank the gods each day for Mr Mittal's fine product"

#1,980,875,440 Alberto Ortega 43, Mexico City, Mexico. Net worth: a pair of pet crickets. Alberto comes from Michoacan where he raised corn on the family milpa, as his ancestors had for centuries. Post-NAFTA, hardscrabble Al couldn't compete with US-Congress-subsidized corn flooding Mexico, courtesy of Archer Daniels Midland. (Best known ADM partner Donald Tyson tragically fell OFF the current Forbes 400 Richest this year: couldn't make that $1 billion mark boo-hoo-hoo!). Alberto moved to Mexico City where he lives in a drain with wife Concepcion; together they make a peso a week picking over waste at the local Wal-Mart de Mexico, thus trimming disposal costs for the Walton family (total net worth $78 billion, #6-#11 Forbes 400) and fellow Mexican Jeronimo Arango (net worth $4.3 billion, world's #194 richest man). When Al has a nickel to his name he bets on the ponies, boosting off-track mogul Emilio Azcarraga Jean's bottom line (Net worth $2.1 billion, world's #458 richest man) and dreams of owning a share in a cellphone so he can keep in touch with Concepcion when she has to turn a trick, putting more dough in the pocket of Mexican Tel-com Bandito Carlos Slim Helu (at $49 billion net worth, world's #3 richest man - and that's in dirt-poor Mexico!)

In the time it took you to read this far, fifty kids worldwide have died from malnutrition and related diseases. The way we see it, that's a lot less hungry mouths and sick bodies needing no-return cash outlays and burdening our planet's already over-taxed resources. Bluntly put: there's no future in demand where there's no supply. Solution: end demand.

Just imagine if the bleeding-hearts got their way and we had a more "equitable" worldwide distribution of wealth. Instead of being simply opted out of the system, these "people" would remain alive, clamoring for more costly food and medical treatment. Where's the money going to come from, sooner or later? Your friendly neighborhood billionaire. And where's it going to end up sooner or later? Your friendly neighborhood billionaire. What's the point, folks? What's the point?

That said, there's been pressure on billionaires recently to let some of the hard stuff trickle down to the Forbes Four Billion. "No way!" says John P. Manning (#354 Forbes 400) the Boston Capital genius who squeezed blood from a stone - $1.1 billion worth - brokering low-income housing! (File under: How Does He Do It?) Rather than bend over for the bleeding-hearts as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have, "it's time for pushback" declares Manning who proposes launching a global union of the super-rich: The Fraternal Order of Billionaires Local 1, to protect "the inherent human right to make more money than you'll ever need or spend."

Annual dues of $10 million a year should keep riff-raff out; the multi-billion-buck war-chest will go towards taking out busybody outfits like UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and the "whole hyena-pack of NGOs"; and to underwrite traditional union strong-arm tactics like busting up anti-globalist demonstrations at G8 summits and arranging "accidents" for uncooperative politicians. Collective bargaining by the FOB Local 1 should lead to unprecedented increases in net-worth for hard-working financial titans. Nations and regional trade-groups, that won't play ball can be brought to their knees in days by an FOB "strike" Manning sees trillionaires replacing billionaires in just a few short years.

To which we at Forbes can only say: Solidarity brothers! Link arms and write new words to the "Internationale"!

(Note: All numbers and bio-info from Forbes 400 Richest Americans and World's Billionaires are verbatim)