Earlier this week, Forbes magazine released its always-interesting list of billionaires. This year the list was headed again by Bill Gates, who for a few years had been supplanted by Mexico’s Carlos Slim. Gates’s wealth, despite all of his charitable giving, increased to $76 billion.
Digging a little deeper into the list, we learn that the politically infamous Koch brothers, with $40 billion each, actually have more combined wealth than Gates. But if we started counting family wealth, the Kochs are dwarfed by the four children of Sam Walton, who have a combined wealth of $139.9 billion. And contrary to the conventional wisdom, two-thirds of the individuals on the Forbes list are self-made, while the others either inherited their wealth or had a lot of wealth to start with.
The most illuminating statistic about the list is that the combined wealth of all 1,645 of the world’s billionaires increased to $6.4 trillion in 2013, an amount that might seem unfathomable until you consider that President Obama has increased America’s national debt by $6.451 trillion by October of last year to $17 trillion. Wow! All of the wealth from all of the world’s billionaires would cover less than half of America’s debt.
There is sage comment about socialists and liberals doing well until they run out of other people’s money to spend. Well, it seems that deficit spending has enabled them to circumvent that rule. America is spending money that not even the richest people have.
Economic apologists for progressive spending often suggest that a moderate amount of deficit spending does no harm and is actually good for the economy. Surely that sentiment has to be placed in George Orwell’s category of ideas that are “so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.