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The Almighty Buck Microsoft

Bill Gates Regains the Position of World's Richest Person 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money-more-problems dept.
jones_supa writes "Bill Gates is once again the world's richest person. He recaptured the title from Mexican investor Carlos Slim, as Microsoft hit a five-year high. It is the first time Gates has held the mantle since 2007. His fortune is valued at $72.7 billion, up 16 percent year-to-date. At the same time, Mr. Slim's América Móvil, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, has dropped 14 percent this year after Mexico's Congress passed a bill that could quash the billionaire's market dominance. That's helped erase more than $3 billion from the tycoon's net worth. What comes to Bill Gates, most of his fortune is held in Cascade Investment LLC, a holding entity through which he owns stakes in more than a dozen publicly traded companies and several closely held operations. He has donated $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."
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Bill Gates Regains the Position of World's Richest Person

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  • Something is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:14AM (#43749309)

    When the system allows a single individual to amass such wealth into his own hands something is wrong with the system. I have nothing against the rich or Bill Gates and I do think that more capable people should have a reward, but this is going beyond good taste.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is nothing new, and plays out again and again throughout human history. My greater disappointment is that we're *still* dealing with this after all these years. But unless BG starts taking over countries, or allowing his sex slaves to escape unharmed, live with it.
      • by chromas (1085949) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:38AM (#43749423)
        Not only are we unharmed, he even lets us post to /. from our Windows 9 phones while on the job.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The system should never allow a single individual to create a product that touches hundreds of millions of people daily. We should never allow economy of scale or efficiency in that scale. They're both shitbags as people go, but they've done incredible things to move the world forward. Imagine if we were all still trying to use C/PM or if hundreds of millions of poor people in central america didn't have access to an affordable cellphone.

      You're a selfish douche.

      • Linux still runs more servers, am I right? Whats more influential? Windows is simply more visible and the defacto OEM standard, through syndication, not competition.

        Bill Gates has a monopoly on low level DoD informations systems, and business culture. That is all.

        I would be interested to know what some of his closely held holdings are. But I'm sure the money trail around those disastrous African drug trials is nice and loose.

    • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:35AM (#43749411)

      Who gets to decide how much is too much? The problem isn't that some people are too rich, the problem is that way too many people are incredibly poor, which is most people outside of developed countries. This isn't a problem that can be fixed by arbitrarily picking a number and confiscating any wealth above that, it's a problem that gets fixed by people in those countries getting rid of their corrupt politicians and levying taxes on their own wealthy. Not to say each country is a discrete unit of course, we can help them in many ways, but ultimately the decisions need to be made domestically.

      • by Twanfox (185252) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:55AM (#43749489)

        Who gets to decide how much is too much? ... people in those countries getting rid of their corrupt politicians and levying taxes on their own wealthy.

        Something tells me you answered your own question just there. And if it is 'the people in those countries' deciding when too much is too much, then the GP poster commenting he feels Gates has too much is certainly within his rights to say.

        Saying that the problem isn't that some people are too rich, it's that some are too poor is trying to make excuses why being overly successful (in some cases, abusively successful) is desirable and 'them good for nuthin' lazy poor folk' are in the wrong for not being successful enough. The whole game is set up so that a few accumulate a lot that could otherwise be feeding the many. The phrase 'you have to have money to make money' didn't come about because it's a cute saying. I can't imagine that anyone that's rich now continued to slog away on the assembly line until they were rich. At some point they stopped doing manual labor and let their funds work for them through investments. Even still, SOMEONE needs to slog away on that assembly line, don't they? Why can't they be paid commiserate with the total value their work brings in, just like those awesome investors that ponied up a little dough but didn't otherwise put forth ANY effort for their return? It'd certainly keep them unsuccessful poor from being so poor, wouldn't it?

        The simple fact is that people are greedy assholes no matter which end of the 'rich' spectrum you're on. It's just that those that have (money, skills, power), they get to flex their greed more strongly than the rest. If everyone played fair on their own, sought balance instead of their own aggrandizement, we wouldn't feel the need to put in such silly things like regulations and limits and 'how much is too rich' and such because you just wouldn't have that problem anymore.

        • Well the difference is when the few decide what is to much vs the many. Thats democracy, or rule by majority. For the distribution of wealth and power, majority rule is fine by me.

          For other things concerning race or beliefs rule by majority is terrible.

          Our system does not currently make much of a distinction. And is run mostly by the wealthy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          No, you're making the same mistake as the OP, treating all places as if they were the same. The bottom line is that even the poorest in developed countries have a standard of living far beyond most of the rest of the world mostly due to open and clear political systems and more importantly taxation.

          There are two sentiments at work here, a kind of moralising piety that tut tuts at Bill sitting on his pile of cash as people in poor countries starve, and an attitude that really wants to see the lot of poor peo

          • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:15AM (#43749781)
            Another mistake they are making is not distinguishing between wealth and income. Taxing wealth amounts to punishment for not spending, and it can only be done once.

            96.9% of the people in India (1.18 billion people) live on less than $5 per day (adjusted for purchasing power.) Confiscating 100% of Bill Gates wealth will only give each of them a one time payment of $61.61, less than a month of income.

            The upshot of realizing these things is that you see that wealth disparity is a pretend problem, and the closest thing it is to a real problem is the fact that so many people can be so easily fooled into droning on about it like it actually was a problem.

            At the end of the day no matter how the handful of people like Bill Gates became so rich, neither their wealth nor their income holds a candle to what governments throw around on a daily basis. The frustrating part is that those than drone on about wealth disparity were basically handed marching orders to drone on about it by members of the very governments that so easily throw around much larger sums of money. It only takes a week for the U.S. Federal government (responsible for only about half of all government spending in the United States) to spend more than Bill Gates entire net worth.

            The problem in India is mainly rooted in the lack of the sufficient capitol base necessary for the percentile growth of the economy to keep up with western nations. The problem in America is too many people don't realize that the government already spends more than enough, and because of that they even the worst off of us already have it better than the average man ever had it ever in the history of the world.
            • even the worst off of us already have it better than the average man ever had it ever in the history of the world.

              This is the only thing I take issue with. I am sure I could probably find an example of people in dire need in this country in recent times. I'm thinking the end result of Katrina. Or generally frozen and starved homeless people. Or people subject to gang violence. The fact is even in this "utopia" people still starve to death. Some earn that starvation, others don't really. I suppose in a 3rd w

              • Well heck. If you take the average, it's probably a neolithic subsistence culture. And they had more freedom then some of our richest do. Shorter life spans. But hey quality of life is highly subjective.

            • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:38AM (#43749859)

              Confiscating 100% of Bill Gates wealth will only give each of them a one time payment of $61.61, less than a month of income.

              And if we lived in a system where tax money was literally handed to people, you'd have a point, but that's not what tax money is used for on all but the smallest scales. Economics has shown time and time again that the impacts on quality of life from spending money on social infrastructre are disproportionately large. Suppose you built tens of billions of dollars worth of hospitals, which is a lot of hospitals by any measure, as well as the infrastructure to set up medical schools. Suddenly you've not only created a promising new career avenue, you've also made the nation healthier and, as a consequence, more productive, and as a consequence, raised their incomes.

              Bootstrapping, essentially.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by gtall (79522)

                " Suppose you built tens of billions of dollars worth of hospitals, which is a lot of hospitals by any measure, as well as the infrastructure to set up medical schools. Suddenly you've not only created a promising new career avenue, you've also made the nation healthier and, as a consequence, more productive, and as a consequence, raised their incomes."

                Not really. If you have no demand for all those extra hospitals, then you have essentially wasted capital. And if people went to med school to work in those

            • Nah, I don't care if you made it this year or already had billions. No one needs personal billions. Spend it and get it back into circulation or have it taxed back to get it into circulation. The 1% don't need 99% of the wealth and the other 99% certainly need it. "even the worst of use have it better than the average man"--Crap. In living memory society and people were better off and then what you are saying was closer to being true. Now it's getting worse each year for the "average man" and better for the
              • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:59AM (#43750959)

                Spend it and get it back into circulation or have it taxed back to get it into circulation. The 1% don't need 99% of the wealth and the other 99% certainly need it.

                I get the feeling that people learned economics from duck tales and think that Bill Gates has a vault of gold somewhere.
                Most of his money is in assets. Hard to get those back in circulation.

            • Punishing "not spending" sounds about right in this economy where our problem is pretty much that people stopped spending.

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              96.9% of the people in India (1.18 billion people) live on less than $5 per day (adjusted for purchasing power.) Confiscating 100% of Bill Gates wealth will only give each of them a one time payment of $61.61, less than a month of income.

              The upshot of realizing these things is that you see that wealth disparity is a pretend problem, and the closest thing it is to a real problem is the fact that so many people can be so easily fooled into droning on about it like it actually was a problem.

              That's specious re

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:26AM (#43750361)

            The bottom line is that even the poorest in developed countries have a standard of living far beyond most of the rest of the world mostly due to open and clear political systems and more importantly taxation.

            I see this trotted out in nearly 'rich vs poor' thread. Why? Are you proud of this standard? Here in the US we still have homelessness. A good friend of mine is a public defender in a mid-size city; she just lost a client to cancer because he couldn't get chemo due to lack of health insurance (an no, the ER doesn't do chemo) and he fucking DIED. We've got food deserts in major cities where you cannot buy fresh vegetables and fruit; only prepackaged preprocessed shit masquerading as food. You want third world? Take a look a the pollution in East St Louis.

            I've got some very good friends in Australia and Chile, and they mock us. Get back to me with our poorest having a decent standard of living when we have real safety nets for when the bankers fleece us and the economy tanks again.

            • by gtall (79522) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:25AM (#43751269)

              Just to be fair, that wasn't only the bankers. That was the real estate agents, the builders, Wall Street, government agencies, credit rating agencies, house appraisers, and last but not least, the sainted American People who mortgaged second houses, flipped houses, signed on the dotted line for adjustable rate mortgages because they were too stupid to relax, read, and live within their means.

            • I live in Europe.

              • So do I, and I was appalled when I went to the US for a few months. This was the big role model for economy, of growth and progress? The electric infrastructure (in California, not backwater hicksville) reminded me of our countryside in the late 1960s, and I found hemp isolation on the wires in the buildings. I was kinda wary to use the tap water for anything but washing hands, I didn't consider it impossible that they used lead pipes, too.

                Fuck, I've seen better infrastructure in the former East Bloc, and t

        • Who gets to decide how much is too much? ... people in those countries getting rid of their corrupt politicians and levying taxes on their own wealthy.

          Something tells me you answered your own question just there. And if it is 'the people in those countries' deciding when too much is too much, then the GP poster commenting he feels Gates has too much is certainly within his rights to say.

          And that's what the tax code is supposed to settle.

          In a capitalistic society there is a need for some individuals to have excess capitol/money to invest in new ideas/companies. Gates just seems to be the richest.

          And you know what? It has to be someone. Why not him. At least he seems to make an effort to give away some of the money towards his charity.

          Do I like what he did with the Microsoft OS monopoly? Of course not. But what he's done with the money isn't as disgusting as just putting it into big oi

      • Extremely rich people are a threat to democracy. If you don't take action they become richer and richer, faster and faster and end up controlling your nation. The risk would be greatly mitigated with a cap on inheritance for instance.
        • If extremely rich people are buying politicians or something then I would suggest the problem again lies with your political system and a lack of serious consequences for corruption. Although I do agree that inheritances should be heavily taxed, in fact I think they already are in many places.

          • You are assuming the politicians have the power, which is debatable. The too rich people actually end up with more power than the politician. He controls the industry more than the politician does. He can set the direction of the economy. He can hire or fire people. He can relocate factories, he can remove a city from the map and build it elsewhere with his money. This is not about buying politicians, it's about where the real power lies. If you let the extremely rich people get too rich, they become kings.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            The problem with your argument is thus: You can move a billion dollars around the planet in seconds. this means that you would have to fix EVERY country and ALL the politicians on the entire planet to do anything about the problem of too much wealth giving too much power, and that simply isn't realistic.

            Just look at T. Boone Pickens who has said on several occasions he intends to own every drop of water in the United States, even if YOUR state refuses to sell to him all he has to do is find one upstream wh

          • by Krneki (1192201)

            In theory yes, in practice once you got enough money you dodge the tax system through offshore accounts.

        • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:21AM (#43749797)

          The risk would be greatly mitigated with a cap on inheritance for instance.

          The U.S. Federal government grabs 40% of any substantial inheritance. What the fuck are you smoking?

          • With all respect, this is not a cap. Let's do some maths here.
            If your stockpile of dollars increase by 5% a year, which is very conservative when you have billions of dollars, even when inflation is considered. Let's say a generation lasts 20 years. After 20 years, your extremely rich has 265% of the money he inherited, minus what they spent, which is negligible for the extremely rich. You tax it 40%. The next generation will be left with 160% of the money left by the grand father. This is very conservativ
          • by Sockatume (732728)

            If your definition of "any substantial inheritance" is $1,000,000+, sure, Mr. Ten Thousand Dollars Doesn't Mean Anything To Me.

          • Well, anything above $5.25 million. Anything below that is *tax free*. That's a pretty sweet deal, considering how much tax you'd pay if you had to actually work for that money.

            But the tax structure is only a secondary factor in the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The primary factor is that wealth accumulates in the hands of those who control the means of production, and we've let the balance between capital and labor get too far out of whack. It's only going to get worse as technology advances. As

      • by peragrin (659227) on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:12AM (#43750039)

        Put this into perspective. In 1970 a man earning $35,000 a year could afford to own a home, a car, and afford to have his wife stay at home to raise the kids. If the wife worked too then they probably had a second summer cabin somewhere.

        in 2010 a man earning $35,000 is barely living above the poverty line.(depending on location) you can't support a wife to raise the kids, let alone anything else.

        The average worker in the USA in 1970 earned $19.20
        In 2010 the average worker earned $19.70

        In 1970 the average CEO earned $500,000
        in 2010 the average CEO earned $5,000,000

        Now tell me what is wrong with that picture? Circuit city is my favorite example. in 2008 after a year of bad sales the CEO of circuit city came up with a plan to save $10 million over 3 years. He fired the top 3,000 highest paid non mangers and rehired new people in their place earning minimum wage. Wall street was happy, and he and the board paid themselves $5 million in bonuses immediately.

        With in a year Circuit city was gone completely. why? because he fired the top 3000 sales people. He could have saved $10 million dollars immediately that year by cutting his and the rest of the executive boards salaries. They weren't doing anything anyways.

        executive and upper level bonuses have gone out of control. Goldman Sachs had to borrow money from he US Government so it could pay bonuses. I always thought that if the company did poorly bonuses were to be cut first not last, but for the rich they payout bonuses and then close the company down.

        • by bondsbw (888959) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:58AM (#43750951)

          [citation needed]

          Meanwhile, I found data that completely reverses your assertion [data360.org].

          Average Wage in US:
          Dec. 1970 = $3.70
          Dec. 2010 = $19.24

          Are you sure your source wasn't already inflation adjusted?

        • The average worker in the USA in 1970 earned $19.20
          In 2010 the average worker earned $19.70

          The average worker's wage was under 10,000 in 1970.
          http://www.stanford.edu/class/polisci120a/immigration/Median%20Household%20Income.pdf [stanford.edu]
          http://www.davemanuel.com/median-household-income.php [davemanuel.com]

          • by ZiakII (829432)
            He was saying with inflation. as $3.70 is equivalent to $22.17. Although he is cherry picking data and only applying inflation to the worker and not the CEO. As a CEO making $500,000 in 1970 would be about 3.2 million in 2012.
            • Not directed at you, but leaving out inflation kind of defeats his whole point. The way he wrote it made it sound like people made the same as before but have less buying power.

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Where did you get those bullshit numbers? In 1970 the average worker earned $19.20 (I guess that is per hour). Well, according to the SSA [ssa.gov] the US average income in 1970 was $6,186.24 (in 2011 it was $42,979.61). So, if the average worker was making $19.20 in 1970, they were only working 322 hours per year, which is of course nonsense. In reality, the actual average earner was making about $3/hour in 1970.

          As for your idiotic example of Circuit City, do you have the slightest bit of evidence that retainin

      • If the problem is wealth inequality, then you don't make it an explicit cap, you make it a ratio. Say, no person should be able to control more wealth than 100 times the median. That would mean, today, that a wealthy person would be in a position to live comfortably and never have to work again, which sounds like it's sufficient incentive for the people whose only motivation for doing things that benefit society is collecting personal wealth (I've never met any such people, but according to posts above th
    • Just to let you know you're not the only one, I absolutely agree with you and anyone I've ever spoken to about this also agrees (parents, partner, friends, colleagues). The accumulation of wealth ought to be limited, nobody with a discrete income of over a million dollars a year can honestly say he needs more money. The ironic thing is that classic economic theory supports this view as well by presuming the Principle of Diminishing Marginal Utility - which in case of money has been confirmed well empiricall

    • by chrismcb (983081) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:33AM (#43749625) Homepage
      Why is there something wrong with the system when one person does better than everyone else?
      • It's when that better then everyone else is by an arbitrarily decided amount. Mostly due to politics, economic trends, luck, and fiat currency over other factors. Such as actual contribution to the "tribal" group. National group. Persons colloquial fellows who helped that one individual get there.

        If it were not for us all contributing to the society we have now. There would be no pile to be on top of.

        Bill Gates by that logic owes his countrymen a great deal.

        • Specifically his achievements were in owning and selling the right things at the right times. Not even actively inventing them. You can maybe attribute some minor refinements to preexisting ideas to him.

          • by Sockatume (732728)

            You say that like they just happened to have 86-DOS lying around when IBM happened to ask them for a disk OS. The fact that they kind of bluffed their way into market dominance, without even having to develop a new piece of software, displays a certain amount of cunning. They knew what they were doing.

            Business intelligence and not computer intelligence, mind you.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Why is there something wrong with the system when one person does better than everyone else?

        That is not the bar and even suggesting that it might be is disingenuous prevarication. The bar is that there is something wrong with the system when one person has more than they could ever spend while others are starving in the dirt.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Something is wrong indeed.... with your reasoning. There is no "system." Indded - the lack thereof defines capitalism.

    • For these uber rich people, it is not like the fantasy Scrooge McDuck idea, Of a guy with a vault just filled with money. It is spread across many different things and is working for him, moving from hand to hand and barely ever actually reaching Bill Gates. Unless Bill decides to sell it all at once.

  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:16AM (#43749323)

    Even still he'll never be as rich as the Rothchilds... who for some reason never grace the inside of Forbes top #100 rich people
      (maybe because they own the magazine and don't want to draw attention to themselves...., just a guess)

  • yeah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm glad to see Gates back on top. As a philanthropist he rocks.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm glad to see Gates back on top. As a philanthropist he rocks.

      If by "rocks" you mean "is amazingly good at setting up nations for future fleecing", that's a proven fact. You don't get vaccinations from the gates foundation unless you adopt strong (Western-style) IP protection for Big Pharma — so strong that the IMF and World Bank will wind up owning your country if you should dare to produce medications to save the lives of your citizenry because the price Big Pharma is asking for AIDS medication (or whatever) is above your people's means to pay.

      Bill Gates has n

      • Re:yeah! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:49AM (#43751575)

        Got any citations for that claim that aren't from conspiracy sites?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Got any citations for that claim that aren't from conspiracy sites?

          0) Who the fuck are you to ask me? You don't even have a mother.

          1) Conspiracies are the norm. Any time two people get together secretly to bone a third, it is a conspiracy. The only overarching conspiracy of which I'm aware is that to deprecate the word "conspiracy". Those involved thank you for doing your part as a useful idiot.

          2) If you actually wanted a citation, you would already have found one with google. But you don't actually want a citation, you just want to make me look bad so that people won't be

  • C'mon, Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vikingpower (768921)
    "News for nerds, stuff that matters". Is this news ? Does this stuff matter ? Just askin'....
    • This is rather interesting I'd say: considering that BG has vowed to give away 95% of his wealth to charities, and already does give away a shitload of money every year, I find it interesting that his net worth should increase rather than decrease.

      Me, when I give money to a charity, I find myself poorer afterward. Not him. That seems like a nerdy enough phenomenon to be worth mentioning.

    • by Kawahee (901497)

      "News for nerds, stuff that matters". Is this news ? Does this stuff matter ? Just askin'....

      Where are these words from? Last time I checked, Slashdot described itself as Slashdot is a Dice Holdings, Inc. service.

    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      They dropped that epithet ages ago.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Given that the news stories are picked by either the Slashdot editors directly or the Slashdot readership by the Firehose, it's safe to assume that some proportion of nerds consider this news and/or something that matters.

    • What matters is that almost no one, (only a handful of mentions of Windows, none of Windows 8, in the first 100 comments I read), is crediting Windows 8 for Microsoft stock being at an all time high.
  • and he STILL has enough to be the richest?

    Maybe he should give away some more.

    • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:04AM (#43749983)

      and he STILL has enough to be the richest?

      Maybe he should give away some more.

      I think him and Warren Buffet are doing it more slowly. Non profits are required to spend a certain part of their endowment yearly - by holding on to it and investing it and donating a trickle (a billion dollar trickle... he made several billion in one year just from having money) which could last indefinitely. I think they pledged to give much more upon their death.

      I wonder why they don't set up some kind of non-profit investment group where all proceeds yearly would then fund a charity. One big donation could do $70 billion of good once, or $3-7 billion dollars of good yearly, forever..

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I wonder why they don't set up some kind of non-profit investment group where all proceeds yearly would then fund a charity.

        Because the Gates Foundation is a legal dodge. Remember, Microsoft was convicted of abuse of monopoly position under Bill Gates, which means he's personally responsible — in fact, it was actually explicitly shown in court that Bill Gates was personally involved in most of the illegal actions of Microsoft, as the primary decision-maker. There's a hot, smoking paper trail. But by creating this foundation, Gates has not just dodged paying taxes on the money invested, but also dodged any future repercussi

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:01AM (#43749747)

    Well, he gets a lot of stick here for the "evil empire" he created, but let's not forget he started out as a programmer.

    He gamed the system for all it was worth, in a very smart manner, and pretty much stuck to the letter of the law, if not the spirit.
    Along the way, DOS & Windows, with Intel, became the foundation of the "open" PC marketplace that radically transformed the computing marketplace.

    So, kudos to him, especially if he dumps a few more $Bn into his foundation.
    (I mean, $76Bn, do you really need that much money?)

    • (I mean, $76Bn, do you really need that much money?)

      I would buy a bunch of 747s and run them between major international airports around the world - with no one on them. It would be an kinetic art project about unsustainability.

      Note: Mr. Gates is worth about 2.1 times more than the endowment of the school he dropped out of (Harvard).

    • by delt0r (999393)
      He doesn't have $76B. That is his net "worth", which is a useless measure really. He can't dump all his MS shares without that net worth going down far faster than he could ever liquidate for example.
  • Given the fact that microsecond trading data centres are mostly anonymous (you will have a hard time finding out who they belong to, who is doing such trading and those firms want to keep it that way), this must be a tip of a snowflake, not even a minor iceberg. While this is an insane amount of money, the real richest people probably own a Godzillion more, but have "structured it away" to keep it secret.
  • What comes to Bill Gates, most of his fortune is held in Cascade Investment LLC

    That should read, "When it comes to Bill Gates..."

  • Adjusted for inflation, or seen as a percentage of GDP, or as a multiple of median income of the country etc, Bill Gates fortune is dwarfed by the rich men of early 1900s. I think Andrew Carnegie, when he sold USSteel for some 450 million dollars in 190X, he got 2% of the GDP of the country or something. John D Rockefeller became richer, but the country also grew faster than his personal fortune and he did not top that percentage, if my memory serves me right.

    There is nothing wrong with any one person amassing that level of wealth, and it might even serve as a motivation for lots of people. But the society has to be on guard. But SCOTUS has ruled money is speech and rich people can out shout poor people, that would be damaging to free exchange of ideas. Even if the top rich men did not care, they have many hangers on, suck ups and brown nosers. They might get the confidence of these rich people, do enormous collateral damage to the society in their quest to peel of a measly million or two from these billionaires.

    Many of our academic institutions are actually running on very little money comparatively, newspapers and other such institutions are struggling. So some rich dude dropping a million dollars a year could corrupt and poison such foundations of democracy easily, sometimes without even meaning to.

  • The problem is not that we have the extraordinarily wealthy among us, it is that there are not more of them. Increase incentives and benefits of accumulating wealth and you might find more more people become wealthy. Relief given to the poor often as not helps perpetuate the lifestyle. This is the opposite of communism, where everyone is poor equally. Let there be the rich, and let them keep their riches. More of us will want to become wealthy.
    • I call you the mother of all Tea Party trolls, but most trolls post as ACs.

      The problem with your posit is that there is a (nominally) fixed amount of wealth to be distributed - we are in a closed system. We can change the values of certain things and scale the numbers, but the net effect is that for more people to be rich, the richest must either get less-rich, or the poor become more-poor.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      the ultra rich have governments in their pocket and make war, famine and disease for profit. get a clue.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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