Oct 11, 2010
Forbes magazine just published its list of the 400 richest Americans. Their combined wealth comes to 1.4 trillion dollars, equal to half of all private sector wages in the entire U.S.
Bill Gates remains the richest American, with 54 billion dollars in wealth. That wealth came in great measure from the 50,000 or so “contractors” in India, China and right in the U.S., that Microsoft underpays and ruthlessly exploits.
The four children of Sam Walton, who founded WalMart, have a combined wealth of 84 billion dollars. This money comes from the poverty-level wages of two million workers in this country and abroad, most working part time and without health insurance.
But overall, this was the year for financiers. The big money men owning hedge funds, private equity companies, banks and real estate make up one third of the Forbes list.
Yet no new wealth was created in the financial sector, which now takes in 40% of all profits, drained from the wealth created by tens of millions of workers in the real economy, those who do actual work in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, mining and transportation.
Warren Buffet, Number 2 on the list, made his 45 billion by buying and selling companies, speculating on their prices. This year he acquired Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. He also helped Dow Chemical’s 19 billion dollar acquisition of Rohm & Haas, resulting in 3,500 layoffs.
John Paulson, with his own special hedge fund, owns much of Wyeth pharmaceuticals, which merged with Pfizer, making it one of the biggest drug companies in the world. The merged company then laid off 19,500 workers.
Four brothers and sisters of the MacMillan company have 15 billion dollars in wealth, based on the ownership of Cargill Inc., the super big agribusiness and food processor. They got wealthier as speculators drove up food prices, which at the same time caused famine in the poorest countries of the world.
The basic source of the wealth of all these 400 thieves remains extracting profits through the exploitation of millions of workers.