The list of the world’s richest people has been released and we discover that the 2011 Billionaires List breaks two records: total number of listees (1,210) and combined wealth (US$4.5 trillion). This horde surpasses the gross domestic product of Germany!
The detailed article is in the link below, but some of the highlights:
Richest man: Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu, who added US$20.5 billion to his fortune. The telecom mogul is now worth US$74 billion
Bill Gates, No. 2, and Warren Buffett, No. 3, both added a more modest $3 billion to their piles and are now worth US$56 billion and US$50 billion, respectively.
America's wealthiest still dominate the global ranks, but the U.S. is losing its grip. One in three billionaires is an American, down from nearly one out of two a decade ago.
The interesting part of the article for me was this assessment by the author:
“these moguls have the power to shape our world. Telecom billionaire turned prime minister Najib Mikati is keeping Lebanon's government together. Ernesto Bertarelli, is now focusing on saving the oceans from mass extinction. Gates and Buffett have already traveled to three continents working to change giving practices among the ultra-rich.”
Now, I will admit that the endeavours are noble (though really, once you have a catrillion zillion dollars, I guess you can afford to be altruistic…otherwise it’s just greedy!) but the question remains, how did they make this money in the first place?? I am glad they are convincing super rich people to give away some of their squillions, but I am thinking there were some oppressed and vulnerable people abused in their climb to extreme wealth. They do indeed have the power to change the world, but perhaps they would use some of that power to change the way they do business, without using sweatshops or destroying the environment or....
So, I pose the question, does charity negate injustice?
And, to cap off rather a depressing blog, here is a funny (well, funny if you like the sarcastic mocking of wealthy Americans) clip illustrating an unhelpful part of capitalism. The unhelpful part is the way in which we value (usually by a larger salary with bigger benefits) people that we define as valuable in society. I long for a day where we can see the value in paying teachers well. What a world that could be…