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Do We Really Need Billionaires?

By Lawrence Wittner ~ Common Dreams ~

According to numerous reports, the world’s billionaires keep increasing in number and, especially, in wealth

In March 2018, Forbes reported that it had identified 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories.  Collectively, this group was worth $9.1 trillion, an increase in wealth of 18 percent since the preceding year.  Americans led the way with a record 585 billionaires, followed by mainland China which, despite its professed commitment to Communism, had a record 373. According to a Yahoo Finance report in late November 2018, the wealth of U.S. billionaires increased by 12 percent during 2017, while that of Chinese billionaires grew by 39 percent.

These vast fortunes were created much like those amassed by the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth century.  The Walton family’s $163 billion fortune grew rapidly because its giant business, Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, paid its workers poverty-level wages.  Jeff Bezos (whose fortune jumped by $78.5 billion in one year to $160 billion, making him the richest man in the world), paid pathetically low wages at Amazon for years until forced by strikes and public pressure to raise them. In mid-2017, Warren Buffett ($75 billion), then the world’s second richest man, noted that “the real problem” with the U.S. economy was that it was “disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.”

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