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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.

  • yeah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:19AM (#43749337)

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

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

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:19AM (#43749339) Homepage Journal
    "News for nerds, stuff that matters". Is this news ? Does this stuff matter ? Just askin'....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:20AM (#43749347)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:25AM (#43749369)

    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.

  • 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.

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:03AM (#43749523)

    Probably not, they have dynastic wealth, rather than individual wealth. Individually they're still wealthy, but not on the scale as individuals like Bill Gates.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:05AM (#43749529)

    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 people get better and understands how to do so. Yours and the OPs are the former.

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:12AM (#43750043)

    Of course, without Microsoft, the rise and commoditization of x86 would have never happened (this started in the XENIX days, when they were the single largest Unix vendor), which set the stage for essentially creating the home computer market as we know it today. Of cours, it existed before MS got involved, but it wasn't Texas-Instruments, Atari, Apple or Commodore/Amiga/Commodore-Amiga who put a PC in practically every household.

    It stands to reason that had Ms not, via their partnerships with Intel and IBM, commoditized the personal computer in the way that they did, the internet probably wouldn't have left academia and become what it is today. The DTP revolution would have still happened (it was born on the Mac, after all) but also wouldn't have grown into what it is today without the accessibility of having Windows, and by extension cheap PCs everywhere. Same goes for gaming and multimedia (previously the barrier to entry for the latter, was being able to afford SGI gear, though Atari introduced it to consumers).

    And your gripe is screen resolution? Based on Android devices which xist in a market Microsoft was never at any point a major player in. Never mind that Apple was debatably first to market with that, and was first to market for "traditional" devices with their retina displays. I'd venture that it having took so long is due to the cost of producing the hardware has dropped to where it's affordable only now.

    I do, however agree with the conclusion. life before "tech everywhere all the time for everything" was probably better.

  • 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 Sockatume (732728) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:16AM (#43750623)

    Regarding inflation, you're just emphasising his point. If a worker's wage has only gained in fifty cents since the '70s, then that worker is, in real terms, being paid much, much less. Which is why the average worker can no longer afford to have a house and a family. Meanwhile the average CEO wage has not just kept up with inflation, but doubled.

    James Marcum received $150K in compensation in 2011, not $50K. His current income is not indicated.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:02AM (#43750993)

    The bit about being late to the Internet party is accurate, but Microsoft was a major player in the commoditization of the PC market.

    A (good enough) operating system you could dump on any IBM compatible was key, and provided a kind of inexpensive, universal operating system that anyone could make use of.

  • by gtall (79522) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:23AM (#43751231)

    " 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 hospitals, they are SOL because there will be no jobs waiting for them.

    China is suffering from this same sort of mentality. They built all kinds of infrastructure that only managed to give them a housing boom and now it is busting. A similar thing happened in the U.S. when demand was artificially created, couldn't be maintained, crashed, and almost took out the entire U.S. economy in the process.

    I'm not against public investment, it is necessary. However, it cannot be done without an eye on a return on that investment. Otherwise, it is just warping the economy and creates bigger problems than it was intended to solve.

  • 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.

  • by csubi (950112) on Friday May 17, 2013 @10:15AM (#43751817)

    Of course, without Microsoft, the rise and commoditization of x86 would have never happened

    Lets not make such strong statements in retrospective. The succession of events leading to the widespread use of PCs might seem logical an inevitable when looking back a couple decades, but it might have happened in a completely different way. We will certainly never know.

    What we know is that Bill Gates amassed this fortune by making pushing an inferior product on masses that defines the user experience of most PC users.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday May 17, 2013 @11:33AM (#43752987) Journal

    There is nothing wrong with any one person amassing that level of wealth

    Yes, yes there is. You cannot earn that much with your own labor. You can only aquire that much by confiscating the labor of others.

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