Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Making Out Like Billionaires

Carlos Slim Hela, Forbes top billionaire
     "Listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter."   
 - James 5:1-5 (NIV)

Forbes magazine has just published its 27th annual list of über-rich billionaires, a third of whom, 442 out of a total of 1342, live in the United States.

Overall, it has been the best year yet for the obscenely well-to-do. The overall wealth of billionaires jumped 18 per cent from $4.6 trillion to $5.4 trillion in 2013 (a trillion is a thousand billion). And a record number of 210 more billionaires joined the list (a billion of course, is a thousand million).

Randall Lane, editor of Forbes magazine, said: “It is a very good year to be a billionaire, and a much easier year to be a billionaire. You have those economic forces and global markets going up and that is pushing more people over the threshold”.

Nevertheless, most Americans aren't benefiting, and the rich are still complaining.

According to a January 17, 2013,  post by David J. Lynch on Bloomberg's website, Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said higher taxes and a “flood of new regulations” will damage an already subpar economy. “In many ways, we’re going backwards.”

But such whining overlooks one simple fact. According to Lynch's article, American business has never had it so good:

"U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan’s administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy. Business leaders cite low labor costs in an era of high unemployment, the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policies, and their own management savvy for the profit boom."

For a truly shocking look at the resulting inequity in wealth in this country, check out the following TED link that is currently going viral over the internet:

P.S. I don't deny the good that people like Bill and Malinda Gates (second richest persons) are doing through philanthropic organizations like their Gates Foundation, but also take seriously the clear indictments Jesus and the Biblical prophets make against the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few.

For more of my own posts on the subject see
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