Now Just FIVE Men Own Almost as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population

By Paul Buchheit

Guest writer for Wake Up World

In 2016 it was 8 men, then down to 6, and now it’s around 5 men who control as much wealth as half the world’s entire population.

The super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 2017, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people.

Why Do We Let a Few People Shift Great Portions of the World’s Wealth to Themselves?

Most of the world’s super-super-rich are Americans. We the American people created the Internet, developed and funded Artificial Intelligence, and built a massive transportation infrastructure, yet we let just a few individuals take almost all the credit, along with hundreds of billions of dollars.

Defenders of the out-of-control wealth gap insist that all is OK, because, after all, America is a ‘meritocracy’ in which the super-wealthy have ‘earned’ all they have. They heed the words of Warren Buffett“The genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did.” 

But it’s not a meritocracy. Children are no longer living better than their parents did. In the eight years since the recession the Wilshire Total Market valuation has more than TRIPLED, rising from a little over $8 trillion to nearly $25 trillion. The great majority of it has gone to the very richest Americans. In 2016 alone, the richest 1% effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves, with nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) coming from the nation’s poorest 90% — the middle and lower classes. That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.

A meritocracy? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos have done little that wouldn’t have happened anyway. ALL modern U.S. technology started with — and to a great extent, continues with — our tax dollars, our research institutes and our subsidies to corporations.

Why Do We Let Unqualified Rich People Tell Us How To Live? Especially Bill Gates!

In 1975, at the age of 20, Bill Gates founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. At the time Gary Kildall’s CP/M operating system was the industry standard. Even Gates’ company used it. But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates. Even though the newly established Microsoft company couldn’t fill IBM’s needs, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity, and so they hurriedly bought the rights to another local company’s OS — which was based on Kildall’s CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. Kildall was a maker who got taken.

So Bill Gates took from others to become the richest man in the world. And now, because of his great wealth and the meritocracy myth, many people look to him for solutions in vital areas of human need, such as education and global food production.

— Gates on Education: He has promoted galvanic skin response monitors to measure the biological reactions of students, and the videotaping of teachers to evaluate their performances. About schools he said, “The best results have come in cities where the mayor is in charge of the school system. So you have one executive, and the school board isn’t as powerful.” 

— Gates on Africa: With investments in or deals with MonsantoCargill, and Merck, Gates has demonstrated his preference for corporate control over poor countries deemed unable to help themselves. But no problem — according to Gates, “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” 

Warren Buffett: Demanding To Be Taxed at a Higher Rate (As Long As His Own Company Doesn’t Have To Pay)

Warren Buffett has advocated for higher taxes on the rich and a reasonable estate tax. But his company Berkshire Hathaway has used “hypothetical amounts” to ‘pay’ its taxes while actually deferring $77 billion in real taxes.

Jeff Bezos: $50 Billion in Less Than Two Years, and Fighting Taxes All the Way

Since the end of 2015 Jeff Bezos has accumulated enough wealth to cover the entire $50 billion U.S. housing budget, which serves five million Americans. Bezos, who has profited greatly from the Internet and the infrastructure built up over many years by many people with many of our tax dollars, has used tax havens and high-priced lobbyists to avoid the taxes owed by his company.

Mark Zuckerberg (6th Richest in World, 4th Richest in America)

While Zuckerberg was developing his version of social networking at Harvard, Columbia University students Adam Goldberg and Wayne Ting built a system called Campus Network, which was much more sophisticated than the early versions of Facebook. But Zuckerberg had the Harvard name and better financial support. It was also alleged that Zuckerberg hacked into competitors’ computers to compromise user data.

Now with his billions he has created a ‘charitable’ foundation, which in reality is a tax-exempt limited liability company, leaving him free to make political donations or sell his holdings, all without paying taxes.

Everything has fallen into place for young Zuckerberg. Nothing left for him to do but run for president.

The False Promise of Philanthropy

Many super-rich individuals have pledged the majority of their fortunes to philanthropic causes. That’s very generous — if they keep their promises. But that’s not really the point.

American billionaires all made their money because of the research and innovation and infrastructure that make up the foundation of our modern technologies. They have taken credit, along with their massive fortunes, for successes that derive from society rather than from a few individuals. It should not be any one person’s decision about the proper use of that wealth. Instead a significant portion of annual national wealth gains should be promised to education, housing, health research, and infrastructure. That is what Americans and their parents and grandparents have earned after a half-century of hard work and productivity.

Recommended reading by Paul Buchheit:

About the author:

Paul BuchheitPaul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (including www.youdeservefacts.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). His latest book is, Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income. Paul can be reached via email here.

This work first appeared on www.commondreams.org and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


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  • Nicole

    What we have to ask ourselves is “what is rich?”. In my heart and spirit it is not monetary and physicality, then we can ask “who then is poor?”

  • MOLLY29

    Although this article on these rich people taking the wealth from the rest of us you fail to mention some families that are far richer than the people that you mention. The Rothchild family is worth 500 Trillion and are the most evil family on the planet alongwith their close friends the Rockefellers and the Queen’s family and her elite relatives that have held the planet sway for centuries. These people are far more dangerous and evil than the ones that you mention although they are pure evil as well…support a variety of de-population programs with a fradulent benevolent cover like humanitarian….its disgusting and they should all be arrested and their assets seized and return to the people they stole from.

    • Mrsx Traspecial

      I agree. They forgot to mention the most wealthiest,evil families of the world right? Maybe, they just don’t want everyone to know who the richest people are. Maybe they don’t want everyone to know, JUST WHO TO BLAME for the way the world is and the way people are being experimented on by pharmacueticals,food,drinks,air,land,poisoned,beat,raped and murdered, for the sake of money, and the wealthiest sickest pleasures! Then we have people, who when a serious article is put out, and serious comments are made, they try to steer people’s thoughts and opinions away to a less important topic. This is to deter people from even thinking about these things, don’t listen, they just want you to stick your head in the sand and hope it will all go away, which it won’t, it will get worse till is sneaks up on you in your sleep……….and your done! They don’t want you to see who is truly to blame, in case you want to do something about it!! They want to keep everyone dumb and complacent. With no courage or strength to stand up for what is right, and what needs to be done, to fix the problem. These parasites…………….are ruining everyone’s life. Time to take action against them. Time to CLEAN HOUSE! I am not the only one who feels this way, it’s just that i’m the only one with the guts to say it. Your neighbor thinks it, your cashier thinks it, your boss probably thinks it. If they are wealthy, they probably don’t agree, because they are part of the problem. Money withers the heart. You want to teach the wealthy a little lesson about life and true living? Take ALL of their money, take their status,take all their connections, take everything they own………..now they know what it’s like to live in this world, now we are on even ground. Can they grocery shop? Can they change a tire? Can they make educated decisions without their advisor? Can they follow the laws of the land? Probably not! Can they get a job in this economy? Probably not. Not with their experience. You want reality? Take the rich and take everything, now tell them to survive. NO help given. No special treatment.