High Desert Sketches: The virus’ contribution to wealth

Economically, I am probably the poorest capitalist supporter in the world. Many capitalists say that I am the poorest capitalist supporter period. What I actually mean is that I have no assets to invest. But, I do not resent those that have a knack for making billions, until they turn capitalism into a nasty creature called monopoly, a beast that tends to stifle competition.

President Biden has proposed the most sweeping legislation in more than half a century. He proposes a complete makeover of our country’s infrastructure, paid for by tapping the richest among us and the major international corporations. He sees no need for tax increases for the middle class and working poor.

In 2017, Republicans had no problem giving tax breaks worth 1.5 trillion dollars (now worth over 2 trillion). Today, they are complaining about repairing our crumbling infrastructure. They resent President Biden’s adding the internet as part of the infrastructure because the urban wealthy are adequately served.

A search of the internet discloses that the pandemic has created the greatest economic disparity between rich and poor in the history of this country. The number of billionaires has increased, while millions are unemployed and face eviction from their homes.

American billionaires haven’t been just immune to the pandemic, they have been thriving in it, drastically increasing their collective wealth. An analysis by Chuck Collins at the Institute for Policy Studies found that American billionaires have seen their wealth grow by $1 trillion since March of this year –– more than 34 percent. That was not the case during the 2008 financial crisis when it took Forbes’ 400 richest people three years to recoup their losses from the Great Recession. Collins’ findings highlight a wealth gain by a mere 650 individuals that seems obscene at a time when nearly 7 million Americans are at risk of eviction when moratoriums expire at the end of the year.

There are 650 billionaires on the list, out of which 47 are new arrivals, with 11 dropping out due to death or financial decline. There were numerous impressive financial gains among notable billionaires on the list with Jeff Bezos growing his fortune by $69.4 billion between March 17 and November 24. The Amazon boss and richest man on the planet is now worth $182.4 billion. The most impressive gain on the list was recorded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO as owner Elon Musk has seen his fortune experience a meteoric rise. In the above period, his wealth surged a whopping 414 percent, climbing from “just” $24.6 billion to $126.2 billion, making him the world’s second-richest man.

Illustrating the gulf in financial inequality in the U.S. today, the analysis states that U.S. billionaires own $4 trillion, 3.5 percent of all privately-held wealth in the country. Billionaire wealth is now twice the amount of wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of all American households combined, approximately 160 million people.

In an era when many of us are having to count our pennies and nickels, it is difficult to get our minds around the concept of great wealth.

Most of us can barely conceive of millions, and it is almost impossible for us to conceive of billions, so we will narrow things down to one day:

Jeff Bezos’ profit during the 190 days was $365,263,158 every day.

Elon Musk’s profit = $534,736,842 every day.

Bill Gates’ profit = $112,631,578 every day

Mark Zuckerberg’s profit = $247,368,421 every day.

Warren Buffett’s profit = $109,473,684 every day.

You need not feel sorry for Warren Buffett, the low man on the billionaire totem pole. Buffett has long been my favorite billionaire. He once stated that he did not buy stock in any company he did not understand. The closest thing to an addiction he has ever had is his daily consumption of Cherry Cokes. Last I checked he was driving a 20-year-old car and has not noticeably changed his lifestyle in his 90 years. He also has repeatedly stated that it was not fair that his secretary pays more in her percentage income in taxes than he does.

You gotta love this guy.