15A029 Rich Folks by Jim Davies, 5/23/2015    


"Why" is a long story, but I've ended up with a short-term subscription to Forbes magazine, and with the first issue I must say I'm impressed. In contrast to all other mainstream media, it conveys a powerful upbeat tone, and celebrates success. Perhaps it overdoes that; the financial stability of the world really is on a knife-edge, yet such is Forbes' persistent optimism that I'd not have known it, from this reading. Nonetheless, it's most refreshing. Evidently, it's still possible to succeed despite the crushing burdens of government. Opportunity is not dead. Not yet.

Steve Forbes writes a very creditable Editorial letter to the Prime Minister of Greece, urging him to dismantle his welfare state, and the main theme of this issue is to portray the world's billionaires. I found it uplifting.

Monotonously, the socialist-dominated MSM deplore wealth, at least when it's held by any who fail to bow down before the Great God Collectivism, and often state or imply that serious riches must have been ill-gotten and should certainly be given away or spent on building hospitals or infrastructure or schools for the poor or saving the planet from Global Warming, or whatever is their pet cause du jour; anything, in fact, other than such objects as the rich guys themselves choose. This Forbes issue offered a welcome antidote.

Some 1,826 billionaires were identified worldwide, far fewer than make up the hated 1%, and a very well-designed double-page graphic described the top 50 of them. To get on that page, you have to have a net worth exceeding $18 billion, just a little beyond my reach - and not even The Donald made the cut. That page alone completely demolishes the myths that the Left has so carefully built. Serious money like that does not, repeat not, get locked in by dynasties that dominate governments and control the world.

First, only 11 of the 50 were shown to have inherited wealth, period; just enjoying what had been handed down to them (as they have a perfect right to do, that being the will of the benefactor.) That sub-group included several (but not all) members of the Walton family, whose company has done so much to make good quality merchandise available at low prices to so many, and to foster international trade, and some from the Mars family, which has made life sweeter for several generations by exchanging chocolate for cash.

Then a further 10 of them are shown as having "inherited but grown" their money; such included the other Waltons (who are active in the business) and the Koch brothers, who started well off but have by hard work much increased the value of what they inherited.

Finally come the remaining 28, or 56% of the richest 50, who became billionaires wholly by their own efforts; and 20 of those began life "poor or working class." That's 40% of the total!

In that "self-made" category come names we recognize easily such as Gates, Ballmer, Zuckerberg, Bezos and Dell. It astonishes me that people like these can make fortunes despite the vicious restrictions imposed by governments. They are most extraordinary, and deserve to keep every penny they have made.

The Forbes graphic also color-codes the continent from which each of the Top 50 come, or do most of their moneymaking. No surprise, but North America came out top, with 27 of them; but it was most encouraging to see Indians and Chinese also entering this exclusive club. How amazing; a mere quarter century after Mao's communist paradise in China came to its long-desired end, living standards rose so much in that semi-free economy that a few can become this rich. A few years ago I encountered Alibaba while searching for a bulk supplier of pineapples; it's a kind of wholesale-scaled, global version of eBay. I am pleased to find the kindly and distinctive face of its founder Jack Ma featured in the lineup.

Among the billionaires outside the top 50, Forbes relates some inspiring rags-to-riches tales. For example there is Mohed Altrad, unwanted son of a dirt-poor Syrian Bedouin family who made his way to France, taught himself the language, saved up the centimes and built a company that now sells $1 billion a year in scaffolds and associated cement and mixers etc. Then there's Markus Persson of Sweden, a ho-hum schoolboy with a yen for computer game programming, who created one called Minecraft and recently sold it to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. So too there is Chris Dawson in England, who never even learned to read until aged 27 but who built up a home & garden chain now worth $1 billion. Just think; if I had happened to meet Dawson in a London pub in the 1970s and got along so well that he offered me a partnership in his startup business of selling cookware in an open-air market, how would I have responded? - for certain, "Thanks, but no thanks." I may be smart, but he's rich.

For all its excellence, there are some things this Forbes issue doesn't mention. I suspect that most of these wealthy guys were obliged to deal with government(s) on their way up. What moral compromises did they make? Did any of them use government power to hobble their competitors? Did they purchase any politicians? And how much richer yet would they have been, had they been able to reinvest for more profit the money they were forced to waste on taxes? How many thousands more would then have been able to join them? Forbes doesn't say. When Steve Forbes ran for Prez, he tried to sell a "flat tax", that would be revenue-neutral but much simpler. Hence, simpler to collect, harder to avoid. He is, alas, still very much in the "statist box" despite his delightfully positive spin.

Only after removing the monkey of government from our backs will we discover the answer to those questions, and before leaving the billionaires we might wonder whether they could help that removal. My answer: no. Not much.

The process is to cause everyone to refuse to work for government; then alone will it cease to exist. That will happen only when everyone understands it, and that can occur only when everyone has studied the subject. The friend-to-friend introduction method associated with TOLFA is the only way I can think of to do that, as its Grr-owth page explains; and for that, only pocket change is required, for CDs on which to copy and convey the course.

So billionaires' megabucks won't help. Much. There are two ways, though, in which they may help a little: one is to fund libertarian scholarship, which the Koch brothers have been doing for some decades through the Cato Institute, and the other is to fund SAVOG.

The Society to Assist Victims Of Government is my own creation, and unfortunately it's so far been dormant, for want of funds. Were it activated by a million or three, while it would not exactly help the above educational process, it would certainly reduce some of the worst suffering presently taking place as a result of government action, and so make the waiting period more tolerable and humane. That draft home page explains.

So if a billionaire happens to be reading this, please consider a 7- or 8-figure donation to start this going. The need is of course unfathomably deep; but SAVOG can do something, which has to be better than nothing. I promise to put the money to good use. $10 million is after all a mere 1% of the net worth of even the least-rich billionaire, so it isn't likely to hurt - and I'll do my utmost to show how much good it's doing, so as to bring pleasure to the donor. I'd like it in the form of gold coins so as to minimize the use of government-licensed banks, or of Bitcoin if preferred.

Or if the reader isn't quite that well off but knows a billionaire, please forward him or her the URL of this page. I can be reached here by email. He who asks, may receive.



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