The Watering Hole, Monday, October 13th, 2014: More Money than God

At, I spotted an article by Sam Pizzigati, regarding the recent publication of the Forbes 2014 Billionaires list. An excerpt:

“…the richest of these 400 hold far more than that average. Take Larry Ellison, the third-ranking deep pocket on this year’s Forbes list. Ellison just stepped down as the CEO of the Oracle business software colossus. His net worth: $50 billion.

What does Ellison do with all those billions? He collects homes and estates, for starters, with 15 or so scattered all around the world. Ellison likes yachts, too. He currently has two extremely big ones, each over half as long as a football field.

Ellison also likes to play basketball, even on his yachts. If a ball bounces over the railing, no problem. Ellison has a powerboat following his yacht, the Wall Street Journal noted this past spring, “to retrieve balls that go overboard.”

Hiring that ball-retriever qualifies Ellison as a “job creator,” right? Maybe not. Ellison has regularly destroyed jobs on his way to grand fortune. He has become, over the years, a master of the merge-and-purge two-step: First you snatch your rival’s customers, then you fire its workers. In 2005, for instance, Ellison shelled out $10.6 billion to buy out PeopleSoft, an 11,000-employee competitor. He then proceeded to put the ax to 5,000 jobs.

Here’s the Forbes 2014 list. Note that the Koch Brothers are tied for 6th place – aww, they didn’t make #1? They must be spending too much money on Republican/Teabagger political candidates. And, of course, several members of the Walton family took 8th through 11th place. I have not perused much of the list, but I see that one of the other sugar daddies of the right, Sheldon Adelson is at #15, while evil left-winger George Soros is at #24. (In between is Wayne’s former ‘boss’ at Xerox, Carl Icahn, at #22.)

One of the “highlights” listed towards the bottom of one of the Forbes articles is this factoid that gave me pause:

“The oldest billionaire is David Rockefeller Sr. (# 190), age 99, with a net worth of $3 billion.”

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate - Hudson River in the background.  (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Gardens at Rockefeller Estate – Hudson River in the background. (photo by Jeff Goodell)

Now, we grew up in an area where the Rockefeller estate is about half-an-hour away, near the legendary “Sleepy Hollow” area. I have cousins on my father’s side who lived near the estate, and when we used to visit them when I was young, the drive took us along, and through, parts of the estate (one could tell by the tall fencing that seemed to hold the estate’s huge old trees back from the road, often on both sides.) So we always considered the Rockefeller family as sort of ‘neighbors.’ Despite his obvious personal flaws, i.e., not making Happy Rockefeller happy, at least Nelson D. Rockefeller was a fairly moderate Republican in the days when there really were moderate Republicans, several of whom could be respected regardless of one’s political affiliation. Of course, these days, Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller would be considered RINOs.

Another excerpt from Pizzigati’s article:

“This year, for the first time ever, Forbes has assigned a “self-made score” to every one of America’s richest 400. More than two-thirds of this year’s 400, Forbes claims, rate as “self-made,” Ellison among them.
[emphasis mine]Forbes doesn’t bother asking how those rich went about self-making their fortunes. We should. Our top 400, after all, haven’t just made monstrously large fortunes. They’ve made a monstrously large mess. To unmake it, we need to unmake them.”.

Amen to THAT, folks.

Oh, yeah, one more thing about the Forbes list: if you’re worth a mere billion dollars, you’re still not rich enough to make the list, as the minimum to qualify this year was $1.55 billion.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

35 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, October 13th, 2014: More Money than God

    • A far cry from what we learned in grammar school…of course we now know adventures to the New World weren’t as benign and benevolent.

    • Lucky for us that humans were created by god in god’s own image, and that evolution theory is nothing more than trumped up scientific bunkum. I mean, if we really were driven by chimpanzee (or lower) genetic roots, well, who knows but what greed and power lust might just have emerged as defining parameters of the human species . . .

      Oh. Wait . . . gulp. 😯

  1. Should everything collapse into a new French Revolution, the Forbes 400 will be the first of the aristocracy to go.

    Just sayin’….

    • If they were gone, not sure I’d miss ’em. In fact, I’m thinking that videos of the 400 jumping out of the windows of tall buildings might be worth watching over and over again.

  2. FCC Plans Stealth Internet Tax Increase

    American politicians of all stripes clearly see and oppose the abuses of the Internet abroad. But our government officials are not aware that the Federal Communications Commission, without statutory authority, is proposing to expand its taxation and regulation of the Internet.


    One set of proposals considered by the FCC would classify Internet services, or at least Internet access services, as “interstate telecommunications services” bringing the regulation of those services exclusively to the FCC.


    The FCC’s network neutrality proceeding may easily provide the answer. By classifying broadband access services as “interstate telecommunications services,” those services would suddenly become required to pay FCC fees. At the current 16.1% fee structure, it would be perhaps the largest, one-time tax increase on the Internet. The FCC would have many billions of dollars of expanded revenue base to fund new programs without, according to the FCC, any need for congressional authorization.

    Forbes’ complaint is that Obama’s FCC is ‘taxing the internet’. What they are really complaining about is that the FCC is reclassifying the internet as ‘communications’ instead of an ‘information service’. Thus, the courts would then have to allow the FCC to mandate net neutrality, which would prevent, for example, Comcast, from screwing with your internet service if they notice you hang out on sites that Comcast decides isn’t in the best interest of Comcast.

    Of course, the best solution would be for municipalities to create their own internet service like Chattanooga, which has the fastest data transfer speed in the country.

  3. pHuckabee’s latest outrage

    [in re gay marriage] the bigger issue is the betrayal of our Constitution and the surrender to a small group of unelected black-robed jurists who can’t make law nor enforce it. . . .

    Where in the Constitution is the definition of marriage and/or the mandate that it’s a man-woman only thing? I’ve looked, can’t find it anywhere.

    • The GOP has delivered little but rhetoric, and the odd slut shaming law, when seeking the fundie vote. Huch is only now realizing that? I would also suggest that he remember how well it worked out the last time a majority rebelled because they were not allowed to shape their own culture in violation of the inherent rights of every human.

  4. (In between is Wayne’s former ‘boss’ at Xerox, Carl Icahn, at #22.)

    Technical correction: Carl Icahn was never my boss, nor did he ever head Xerox (as far as I can recall.) I mentioned him once to Jane because he used to head TWA, and when he said he wanted one-hour service on the copier in his office, my manager looked him in the eye and said, “We don’t give anybody one-hour service.”

    I enjoy when someone in the 1% can’t get his way.

  5. Damn. Another one of them ‘thangs’ is headed toward the valley. It stretches from Houston to almost Chicago. We’ve had 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last three days. I hope the rain is over by Wednesday. It’s too soggy to walk in my yard.

      • We’re back to my weather is your weather the next day, now.

        I’ve had a lot of NNW to SSE track storms all through the siummer.

        I can’t put siding up unless I can paint it before it rains. That’s my fall clean up.

  6. Wow! Some people still take public service to heart. I just opened my mail and found a reply from the local PD. It includes an official complaint form and brief notes of apology from the night shift commander and the chief of the PD. Well, perhaps, “apology” is too strong a word. They both said that serving the public is their calling and they really, really, care about PR but it’s still more than I really expected.

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