Who Are The 85 Richest People On Earth? Who Are The .00000001%?

Posted February 14, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“But to be at once exceedingly wealthy and good is impossible, if we mean by the wealthy those who are accounted so by the vulgar, that is, the exceptional few who own property of great pecuniary value – the very thing a bad man would be likely to own. Now since this is so I can never concede to them that a rich man is truly happy unless he is also a good man, but that one who is exceptionally good should be exceptionally wealthy too is a mere impossibility.”

– Plato (428-348 B.C.)

ripple33Many have heard about the report from Oxfam which pointed out that 85 people own as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on Earth. This report, published days before the recently completed 2014 World Economic Forum, has made an enormous noise on the internet among alternative news and citizen blog sites, although (in America) the mainstream media (MSM) has acted like they know nothing about it – evidently the MSM never received any notice, or tips.

Out of the set of reactions to hearing this report, men and women have had a variety of them ranging from cynicism to sadness to outrage to righteous indignation. The Oxfam report has unveiled an obscene condition on Earth. Obscene means “adj. offensive to decency”, and this is equal to immoral. Perhaps people have little awareness of those who own ultra-wealth because the ultra-wealthy like to stay totally out of the news; out of the public spotlight. Gore Vidal once talked about how admiring of the ultra-wealthy he was because of their ability to remain essentially invisible to the people; how very few people even have an awareness that they exist.

For example, does anyone know the exact amount of wealth owned by the “royal” (adj. of Kings or Queens) families of the world, like Queen Elizabeth and her “people”, or any of a number of “royal” families on Earth? Seriously, does anybody know? And what about these Rothschild people? Or these Rockefeller people? And, is there a real group of ultra-wealthy families that includes the House of Hanover (Germany), the House of Hapsburg (Austria), the House of Orange (Netherlands), the House of Lichtenstein (Lichtenstein), and the House of Guelph (Britain)?

If these people/ultra-wealthy families are existent, how is it that we have never heard of them? Perhaps it is because the ultra-wealthy are the owners of the world’s largest media corporations, like the dynasty Rothschild-owned Reuters and Associated press. If one imagined that they were one of the 85 richest individuals on Earth and owned a major media corporation, it wouldn’t be difficult to sense how allowing stories to become reported on wealth inequality and actual assets held is seen as “off the reservation”.

Now, Oxfam seems like an honest organization; their reports don’t rely on any kind of “conspiracy theory” or wild-eyed guesses about the conditions in the world. In effect, the Oxfam report verifies the claims of some men and women who have tried to alert humanity of such a profound difference between the “haves and have-nots”. So, the wacked-out theories about an “Illuminati” are filtered out of reasoned discussions about real economic conditions, and real wealth inequality.

Does the “royal” family in England own a great deal of 54 commonwealth nations, millions of acres of land, thousands of “crown” corporations, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Archer Daniels Midland, the corporate city-state of London, and the list goes on? Or is the British “royal” family, as well as other nations’ “royal” families, simply a group of people who are figureheads; polite men and women who like to invite the world’s most powerful people over for tea, or touch the shoulders of those they have determined deserve the title of “sirs”, “dukes”, “barons”, “lords” and all the other incomprehensible, so-called noble designations?

In the year 2014 royalty/monarchy seems highly anachronistic, or a way of living on Earth that will only be found in the history books, describing a style of ruling/governing that existed, then ceased, many hundreds of years ago.

Now, besides making public the names of the 85 individuals referred to in the Oxfam report, is it possible to make public the methods, tactics, and strategies that were employed by these 85 to accrue such dazzling wealth? Virtually everyone knows that the Iraq War begun in 2003 was all about oil resources. How much of those oil reserves which were pumped out of the ground under Iraq since 2003 have ended up in the bank accounts of the 85 richest? Perhaps it would be beneficial for humanity to find this out and then ask the persons who gained from the Iraq War how they feel about the methods used to enrich them.

The members of the 85 richest may have some important philosophical knowledge to impart on the rest of humanity, especially if enlargement of their bank accounts required that millions of men, women, and children died. Would their comments include the feelings exhibited by Ms. Madeleine Albright when asked if the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions was too high a price to pay, and she answered that “it is worth it”?

Really?

Are those in the very, very rarefied world of the 85 OK with wars that kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, if that allows them to “keep up with the 85 Jones” with the yachts, Rolls Royces, racehorses, sports teams, castles/mansions, large jewel collections, art masterpieces, and billions of dollars worth of Class A blue-chip stocks and bonds?

Has anyone heard a member of the 85 come forward with great ideas for ending starvation, war, greed, severe poverty, homelessness and all the problems humanity has faced for hundreds of years? The Oxfam report represents the next great unveiling of secrecy on Earth, making Edward Snowden’s (although important as well) revelations pale in comparison. Oxfam is a more important whistleblower than Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and others because Oxfam has revealed the greatest secret: a small number of people on this Earth have been the source of humanity’s greatest problems and suffering.

Those 85 people need to become named – for all the world to know – then asked some very, very difficult, extremely important questions.

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(Thank you to Rubin Report @ YouTube)

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Money Makes The World Economic Forum Go Around.

Posted February 1, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“There is hardly any inequality among men in the state of nature.”

– Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

cumberland 8-1At the 2014 World Economic Forum there were a number of panels convened to talk about various issues around the world. In this one the topic was “Money and Influence”. One man is a hedge fund manager, another a historian, then two economists. It is an interesting conversation, but somewhat uneventful with respect to specific steps needed to tackle the problem of the topic: money’s influence in politics and society.

It could be said that what has become a widely publicized subject – increasing wealth inequality – is a radical trend that requires radical ideas. American writer and publisher Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) thought that “an idea that is not dangerous is unworthy to be called an idea at all”. There is a sense during this talk that it has yet to be completely proven that money and influence is a problem at all.

Perhaps because the panel members are reluctant to sound like economics extremists of some kind, the intensity level of the discussion isn’t high enough – given that 85 people own as much wealth as 3.5 billion people on Earth seems to suggest a sense of urgency absent here. At the start of the talk the audience responded to a poll on the question “is democracy being corroded by wealthy individuals and corporations?”

Those who thought so, and voted “yes”, was 64%; those who didn’t think so, and voted “no”, was 36%.

It would seem beneficial to remember that this is the World Economic Forum and not an Occupy Wall Street gathering. The men and women who attended the event in Switzerland are not a group of people who have felt the harsh negative effects of the economic crisis that began in 2008, or earlier, and has continued and is felt by people around the world to this day. So, for this group to vote close to 2/3 in the affirmative in answer to that provocative question is significant.

The woman moderator asked some thoughtful questions. Like: “when inequality rises, can wealth simply “buy” the representation in government they want, the best lawyers and win most of their lawsuits, and the media to get their view and agenda embraced by the people?” The panel members did a good job of answering the questions given the broad quality of the moderator’s suggestions. One person on the panel suggested that wealth inequality leads to political inequality, where the “rules of the game” are set mostly by the present political power, which says that the “rules of the game” will remain until the vicious cycle of wealth and influence is stopped through legal means.

Then voting was the issue. One of the panel pointed out that only 20% of the young people in America voted in 2010, when they are the age group who has the most “skin in the game” compared to elders in their 70’s. The example of Australia was given, a country where voting is mandatory by law. Citizens United was brought up and talked about. But none on the stage suggested a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling, thereby putting a stop to massive, secretive, campaign spending by the people practicing the game of “money and influence”.

The one fellow suggested that wealth inequality needs to be mitigated, not exacerbated. Another thought that sufficient funding for regulatory agencies and good pay for regulators would be helpful. Another added that a nonpartisan redistricting of congressional districts by a nonpartisan panel would increase democracy, reversing recent years’ practice of rigging elections for either republicans and democrats in a process call “gerrymandering”.

Finally the audience this question from the woman moderator “can democracy defend itself?”

Perhaps the discussion made the men and women in the audience more optimistic – 70% voted “yes” and 30% voted “no”.

It would have been good if the woman moderator forced the idea of solutions – specific solutions. In this regard these men, who have reached a level of ability and success where they received invitations to this thought of as prestigious event of the world’s movers and shakers, were in the same boat as those who attended the rallies during the American Occupy movement. They were in the same boat by failing to offer any specific solutions to problems they believe need addressing.

It is obvious that money has become hugely influential in the world, and that is at all levels of government from city hall to the capitals of nations around the Earth. Wealth inequality can be seen as a pendulum that has swung way, way too far toward money, where a time has arrived that requires dramatic – perhaps radical and dangerous – ideas be brought forth to stop the pendulum so it swings toward the so-called 99%.

It was disappointing to find the lack of solutions offered in this panel. Perhaps one has a naïve understanding of the World Economic Forum that it was convened to specifically offer solutions to problems in this world. Perhaps the people in Davos received invitations to speak because they were the type of people who are ones that will not “rock the boat”. For this reason, it can be assumed that there was a less-than-complete effort put forth by the people at Davos in 2014 to solve problems they were supposedly invited to grapple with.

At risk of sounding like a “radical” with “dangerous ideas”, how about the following proposals? One wonders how the audiences at World Economic Forum 2014 would have voted:

Constitutional amendment to eliminate Citizens United

No taxes until $50,000 in income

Significant, progressive increase in tax rates after $250,000 of income

Consideration of a “maximum wage”

Consideration of a $1 billion maximum wealth

Banishing completely money from campaigns / no political advertising whatsoever

Free, lengthy debate time on the people’s airwaves

Inclusion of all parties in debates

Shutting down all tax schemes and tax havens

Wall Street financial transaction tax

Banning Wall Street transactions that bet on others’ misfortune

Prosecution of all financial crimes with real jail time

Significant reduction of the 57% share of U.S. budget to military

End the Federal Reserve system and replace with a public-owned central banking system

other/any and all measures that swing the pendulum back toward the 99%

Please add any measures you believe would effectively deal with the problems associated with money’s overwhelming and growing influence in the world.

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(Thanks to World Economic Forum @ YouTube)

World Needs An Army Of Honest Accountants And Lawyers.

Posted January 26, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

Suits 1“The type of character produced by wealth lies on the surface for all to see. Wealthy men are insolent and arrogant; their possession of wealth affects their understanding; they feel as if they had every good thing that exists; wealth becomes a standard of value for everything else, and therefore they imagine there is nothing they cannot buy. They are luxurious and ostentatious;… ostentatious and vulgar.”

– Aristotle

Oxfam International’s recent report showing that 85 people own wealth that is equal the wealth of 3.5 billion people has gone viral, leading to numerous articles and discussions in the world’s media outlets. After deciding to learn some more about Oxfam International, I learned that it is headed by a woman whose name is Winnie Byanyima.

So, then there was a search for recent interviews of Ms. Byanyima. There was one of her at a recent meeting on economic and business development in her homeland of Africa, where she expressed her concerns about the same wealth inequality on Earth explained in the viral report – which was published after this particular interview. She finds that economics and job-creation in African nations is reason for some excitement but with a few caveats.

Her concern has to do with the extreme wealth inequality as it relates to instability and insecurity. Ms. Byanyima has found that historical events on the continent have led to a situation where Africa’s tremendous natural resources wealth has exited through a variety of means. Among these are tax breaks and concessions, corruption and bribery, disappearing funds, and tax schemes which have allowed transnational corporations to avoid paying millions and billions of dollars.

This situation, where huge sums are escaping from African nations’ treasuries, has tied the hands of governments on the continent in relation to societal spending on education, health, and job-creation. Ms. Byanyima points out that this has led to poverty and frustration of the people, and is a major factor which has led to wars and killing on the continent. Her comments in that November 2013 interview reflected the reality which is Africa.

I next heard Ms. Byanyima when she was part of a six-member panel at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland held recently.

Many who are reading this understand the concept of “élite capture of wealth and power” leading to domination of political power in nations and regions around the Earth. The Oxfam report confirms that such a situation is real and is an issue which many are more intensely aware of.  When Ms. Byanyima spoke to the audience and her fellow panel members, I noticed that the woman moderator cut her off in mid-sentence almost every time, changing the subject and asking a separate-issue question of someone else on the stage.

Maybe, because I was keen on hearing more from Ms. Byanyima, it seemed that the white woman moderator was putting up roadblocks in front of her.  For example, at one point Ms. Byanyima was making a point about Africa’s “going down the road of more and more insecurity”, due to the fact that 6 of the 10 nations on Earth with the greatest wealth inequality were in Africa, when the moderator abruptly cut her off and changed the subject, turning to another panelist for comments.

She was able to make some important points. Regarding the lack of transparency in the transactions of transnational corporations in various African nations, Ghana has a law which requires very specific reporting to the Ghana government of how much oil is taken out of the ground, all contracts’ content, pricing and earnings, etc. At the same time Uganda has no such law or requirements for transnational corporations.

She was on the stage in Davos, Switzerland with political and business leaders – at the World Economic Forum for an hour-long discussion about the future of the African continent. Oxfam International had just released the viral “85 people” report. Oxfam is a non-governmental organization (NGO), Ms. Byanyima being the only person of six on the discussion panel associated with an NGO, the others consisted of three members (two black, one white) of the business community and two presidents (black) of African countries.

So, I went to look for more lengthy talks with Ms. Byanyima to learn more about Oxfam and the organization that produced the “85 people” viral report. While searching I found the following outstanding documentary “Stealing Africa: Why Poverty?” – which tells viewers in a more effective way what Winnie Byanmiya was trying to say at the World Economic Forum 2014. Come to think of it, the panel at Davos could have been part of the audience, replacing them with the audience’s viewing of this film.

About the film, let me first say that I was very surprised that I had never heard of it until today. For those who appreciate excellent documentaries, may I say that if you have not viewed this film yet, have concerns about the economic reality on Earth and wish to increase your awareness of that reality (the reality provided in the Oxfam report), you won’t be disappointed. Great credit goes to the producers of “Stealing Africa” for creating a powerful expose that identifies a world-wide practice that is responsible for most of the problems on this Earth in 2014.

The film focuses on Zambia, one of the world’s largest suppliers of copper, and the Zambian government’s relationship with Glencore Corporation, which has extracted billions of dollars of copper in the years since it started operations in Zambia. Without giving you a play-by-play of the documentary let me say that the film provides more confirmation to the writings of John Perkins in his blockbuster expose book, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”. Perkins description of his job as an economic hitman mirrors what has occurred in Zambia perfectly.

The Zambian government took large loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, came to the point where they could not meet the repayments, and then sold its state-run copper mining operation to private investors for cash. That the Zambian president when the sale occurred was later convicted of corruption, that he had 11 trunks full of designer clothing – 206 designer suits, 185 shirts, 36 jackets, 157 pairs of trousers, 64 pairs of shoes, and 74 ties (all expensive designer brands made in Switzerland and Italy) – and that Marc Rich, who founded the company and who was in the early 1980’s the world’s most-wanted white-collar criminal – eventually pardoned by William Jefferson Clinton in the last days of his presidency – add to the film’s extraordinary power.

That Glencore Corporation’s conversion from private to public made its CEO $8.8 billion, and 400 other employees over $100 million each, gives people a good clue how the world has “evolved” to the point where 85 individuals own as much wealth as 3.5 billion people.

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For more information visit whypoverty.net

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(Thank you to Why Poverty @ YouTube)

Wealth Inequality Juggernaut Rolls On.

Posted January 24, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens and to give it to the other.”

– Voltaire (1694-1778)

Citizens United, tax havens and tax avoidance industry, Oxfam Report illustrating obscene wealth inequality on Earth, and too-big-to-jail white-collar criminals constitute a Juggernaut. That is Juggernaut as it describes: “any terrible, irresistible force”. Mike Papantonio describes actions originating from the highest levels of the republican party which intensifies an already disturbing decades-long trend in America and around the world. Mr. Papantonio, seen in this short video speaking to Thom Hartmann, coins a phrase, “Grey Poupon billionaire mentality”.

He points out that there is an effort to repeal a law that would allow the Department of Justice to investigate, find, and prosecute those who are engaging in illegal tax avoidance schemes – in exchange for invisible, unaccountable money for election campaigns. Mr. Papantonio compares this organized activity to mafia-like “loyalty oaths”, with the “payoff” being untraceable campaign contributions.

Here he is sharing information on activities which “super-size” the already negative influence of money with regard to a profound erosion of democracy in America. He describes what is occurring as a “Satanic deal” with the bad guys, setup with an even more audacious offshore banking scam that surpasses those of the decades-long tax haven/tax avoidance industry to date.

As Americans struggle to feed their children and republicans and democrats reduce food stamps by billions of dollars, actions are being carried out to allow the wealthiest corporations and individuals to get away with not paying their fair share of taxes. Like the devastating Oxfam Report – and its evidence of moral bankruptcy on Earth – Mr. Papantonio offers more evidence of a wealth inequality trend that has politicians, academics, economists, religious leaders, and all people who have sincere concerns about their fellow human beings frustrated on how to deal with it.

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(Thanks to Ring of Fire Radio @ YouTube)