Tag Archives: Global Oligarchy

Wealth of world’s 400 richest billionaires rose $92 billion in 2014

Figure hits $4.1 trillion

By Andre Damon
January 3, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The wealthiest 400 people in the world saw their combined net worth grow by $92 billion last year, hitting $4.1 trillion. The bonanza for the super-rich was underwritten by governments and central banks around the world, which fueled surging stock markets and record corporate profits by pumping hundreds of billions into the financial markets.

The figures were provided by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which was initiated in 2012 and tracks the wealth of the 400 richest people in the world.

The combined net worth of these 400 individuals is greater than the gross domestic product of Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world. The average net worth of each of the billionaires grew by $240 million, to $10.25 billion.

Since the 2008 financial crash, which triggered multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts and the infusion into the financial system of trillions more in virtually free cash, the wealth of the super-rich has nearly doubled. The net worth of the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans increased from $1.27 trillion in 2009 to $2.29 trillion in 2014.

Over the past year, global stock markets have continued to soar. The American Nasdaq index has shot up by 14.1 percent. The Japanese Nikkei is up by 7.1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 18,000 for the first time on December 26, after hitting a record 17,000 in July 2014 and 16,000 in November 2013.

The Dow is up by 155 percent over its level in March 2009, when it was below 6,000. US corporate profits have likewise hit record highs, reaching $1.8 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from $671 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Investor Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, according to the Bloomberg list, saw his wealth grow to $74.5 billion, up by $13.7 billion, or more than 22 percent, in the past year. Buffett’s wealth has more than doubled since 2009.

Bloomberg noted that “dozens of operating businesses the 84-year-old chairman bought over the past five decades churned out record profit” over the past year. Buffett’s business model has been to buy traditional industries such as railroads and food producers, then ruthlessly cut costs, making billions in the process. Buffett’s businesses have profited handsomely from the ongoing fall in labor costs, which have been dropping year after year since 2008 as a result of falling wages and cuts in benefits for workers.

Commentators did not hesitate to ascribe the growth in the wealth of the super-rich to the continuing infusion of cash by global central banks. This week, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi indicated that the bank would pursue additional stimulus measures, which markets predicted could mean the initiation of US-style “quantitative easing,” where the central bank essentially prints money to buy state bonds in addition to private securities.

Two of the three billionaires who made the most in 2014 reside in China, which is experiencing a stock market bubble, with the country’s FTSE Xinhua 200 index up by 49.49 percent over the past year. Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, saw his wealth shoot up by $25.1 billion this year, to $28.7 billion, following the September initial public offering of shares in the Chinese Internet trading company he heads.

The wealth of Wang Jianlin, chairman and founder of the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, nearly doubled over the past year, hitting $25.3 billion, after his company held an initial public offering for its commercial properties division last year. Of the six billionaires whose wealth more than doubled, five live in China.

Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, saw his wealth grow by $9.1 billion, to $87.6 billion. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s net worth grew by $5.7 billion, to $49.4 billion. The wealth of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg increased $10.6 billion to $35.3 billion. Zuckerberg’s wealth has grown nearly 18-fold since 2009, when it stood at $2 billion.

The financial sector made up a significant share of the Bloomberg list. In addition to Buffett, billionaire investors George Soros and Carl Icahn featured prominently, with $26.1 and $23.6 billion, respectively.

The soaring wealth of the super-rich comes amid growing warnings over the implications of rising social inequality. Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report noting: “Today, the richest 10 percent of the population in the OECD area earn 9.5 times the income of the poorest 10 percent; in the 1980s this ratio stood at 7:1 and has been rising continuously ever since.”

The OECD reported that the gap between the top 10 percent and the bottom ten percent had reached “around 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea, Portugal and the United Kingdom, between 13 and 16 to 1 in Greece, Israel, Turkey and the United States, and between 27 and 30 to 1 in Mexico and Chile.”

The obscene enrichment of the world’s billionaires and multi-millionaires is accompanied by—and dependent on—the growth of unemployment and poverty around the world. According to a report issued by the International Labor Organization last year, the number of people worldwide without work has hit 200 million for the first time ever. The figure marked a 5 million increase in one year, surpassing 2009’s record high of 198 million.

According to a separate report by the OECD, some 12 percent of the world’s population, or 860 million people, lives in poverty. Some 805 million people were chronically undernourished between 2012 and 2014, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The ever-greater enrichment of the world’s financial elite is not the byproduct of a general growth in the real economy and development of the productive forces, let alone a broader rise in living standards. On the contrary. The real economy is stagnating or declining, the productive infrastructure of the US and other industrialized countries is being starved of investment and allowed to rot, and the living standards of the broad mass of people are falling.

Today’s financial oligarchs generally make their fortunes on the basis of social plunder and economic parasitism, much of it borderline illegal or outright criminal. Increasingly, the meager benefits and savings of workers—in the form of pensions and other benefits—are being stolen by the corporate-financial elite by means of corporate and municipal bankruptcies and other pseudo-legal forms of swindling.

The Bloomberg report on the super-rich is one more demonstration of the failure of capitalism and the necessity for the working class to overthrow it and replace it with socialism.

History Lesson: America Is the Same Oligarchy It Was over a Century Ago

By Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton
Global Research, January 2, 2015
Truthstream Media, January 1, 2015

 

oligarchyWhen Americans see charts like this one which illustrate that virtually all the food on grocery store shelves basically comes from no more than 10 megacompanies, or hear statements like this one from our own Attorney General Eric Holder who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that some banks are just too big to prosecute, or check out studies like this one out of Princeton which openly declare we are not a democracy but an oligarchy … it’s kinda hard to believe we aren’t an oligarchy (because we are).

Come on, even our Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (you know, the lady that runs the place that prints our money and sells it to us with interest) has basically admitted it.

But are things really getting worse these days or is this just par for the course — the same course we’ve been on for over a century now?

Tinkering around in an old bookstore in a small Texas town, we came across a set of old books on democracy; we got the first seven volumes of a set entitled, The March of Democracy: A History of the United States written by James Truslow Adams — the guy who coined the term “The American Dream” — for a mere $20.

The first book’s copyright is 1932. The last book ends in 1958.

Fascinating stuff…

For example, in volume four America and World Power the book discusses how “Gradually and quite naturally, there grew up the belief in a great conspiracy on the part of the very rich to ruin the poor.”

Read this and tell me — does any of it sound even the least bit familiar to you?

Most strikingly in the public eye were the great Titans of the new business era, the coal and meat “barons” and the copper, railway, steel, and other “kings,” men of the type of the elder J.P. Morgan, of James J. Hill, William H. Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Frick, William H. Clark, and Rockefeller. Such men had certain broad traits in common, differ as they might from each other as individuals. They were men of wide economic but intensely narrow social vision, and of colossal driving power and iron wills. They could lay their economic plans with imperial vision in time and space, but for the effect of their acts on society they cared nothing whatever. They claimed the right to rule the economic destinies of the people in any way that would enure their own personal advantage. Illogically, they insisted upon the theory of laissez-faire for all except themselves, while they demanded and received every favor they wished in the way of special privileges from the government, as in the tariff and the silver purchase Act. The whole machinery of government must be at their disposal when desired — legislation, court decisions, and Federal troops. They combined their business units into “trusts” and combinations of almost unlimited power, yet they insisted on “freedom of contract” when dealing with labor, whose organization in any form they almost wholly refused to sanction.

They never taught you any of that back in school, did they?

That was written, by the way, in 1940; the author was discussing how America was run back in the late 1800s.

Not only is the emphasis on Democracy a distortion of the fact the nation was founded as a Constitutional Republic, where rights are preserved rather than subjected to the whims of the majority, but these passages demonstrate the familiar snow job surrounding the all-but-official banker’s oligarchy that has ruled this country and many others for some time.

In fact, in volume five, The Record of 1933–1941, Adams records the death of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., as the end of the era of this great wealth — never to occur again.

On May 23, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., died at the age of 97. Owner at one time of the largest fortune in the world, his lifespan had covered the entire history of American business from before the Civil War… Nearly $350,000,000 are handled by three of the Rockefeller Foundations for education, medical research and other uses. Whatever may be thought as to the methods of accumulating the beginnings of the fortune in a period of different business ethics and social outlook, no other man through his financial gifts has ever so widely benefitted mankind. With our income and inheritance taxes no other such fortune will ever again be accumulated, and his death marked the end of an era in American history.

And so that’s the end of the story, kids…

Everything ended happily ever after.

Well, not quite.

Despite appearances, the shift on the part of the Rockefellers and other Robber Barons of the day from outright monopoly to “philanthropic” “non-profit” charity work was not an end to the dominance by the super-rich of the early 2oth Century, but an intensification of their undue influence. The taxation of the wealthy as well as the anti-trust actions of the day, which included busting up megacorpses like Standard Oil and AT&T, were perhaps well meaning but fundamentally failed to rein in the disparity of power.

Instead, new tax laws, in reality, acted to restrict new wealth from reaching the heights of the oligarchy, allowing “the elite” to keep their own, and initiate new members as desired. The tax-free status of many institutions – including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Ford Foundation – allowed the incredibly wealthy to a) shield their fortunes from taxation, b) appear to do good works and boost public opinion of their principle members while c) influencing, writing and developing official public policy through the steering mechanisms of its own tax-free grant making, think tank and research powers. Much social engineering has taken place – with far too little public notice – through these bodies. Additionally, d) many of its directors and board members were in “respectable” positions to shift into official government positions through the revolving door without appearing to be acting on behalf of their corporate masters.

The Reece Committee Hearings, conducted in 1953, attempted to probe the role of tax-free foundations in public life and uncovered many outrageous and conspiratorial actions taking place, including very apparent agendas advancing a one-world corporate-dominated government. However, it did not succeed in a general public understanding of what was taking place, nor did it rein in their powers.

https://archive.org/stream/DoddReportToTheReeceCommitteeOnFoundations-1954-RobberBaron/Dodd-Report-to-the-Reece-Committee-on-Foundations-1954?ui=embed#mode/1up

Yesterday, the markets in gold, silver, oil, steel and other commodities were successfully cornered by the Rothschilds and other top bankers. Under Wall Street direction, and through the powers of the then newly-created Federal Reserve, these titans were able to officially dominate nearly all the important areas of public life, including great expansions in consumer spending and government agency powers. The icons of this magnificent and terrible wealth were John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, E.H. Harriman, Cornelius Vanderbilt and a handful of others. Today, those icons of wealth are the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Larry Ellison, the Koch Brothers, Michael Bloomberg, Steve Jobs (now deceased), the Walton family descendants of Wal-Mart and, again, a handful of others who are largely known for their role in the age of computers, the Internet, telecommunications and electronic devices.

The real wealth, from older robber barons accumulated in land, resources, banking and investment and commodities are still there, but remain under reported on the Forbes’ list of the world’s richest, instead ruling largely from the shadows and influential but secretive groups such as Bilderberg.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Gates-Buffett led billionaires’ “giving pledge” are keeping in stride with the groundwork laid and continued by the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation. Heavily funded initiatives to push vaccines, birth control, population control, Western-oriented “education,” GMO and corporate-dominated agriculture and the like remain some of the most consequential and troubling policies done in the name of “good” by tax-free entities wielding enormous, nearly incalculable wealth and power.

In short, the myth of “democracy” and freedom in the United States – the beacon around the world – perpetuates, despite a few blemishes. But in reality, the Oligarchy took hold some time ago, has not let up and perhaps never will.

Let that sink in, kids. Take a good look, and let it all sink in.

And don’t forget to read Charlotte Iserbyt’s revealing and TRUE work, loaded with documents and footnotes, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.

It helps to explain why you don’t know this stuff, why the reins of power have been stolen from us, and why things are not soon going to get better.

Unfortunately, the late comedic genius George Carlin was all-too-right when he explained the owners of America and why the education system is broken:

And like Carlin said of James Truslow Adams’ American Dream,

The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.

Aaron and Melissa created TruthstreamMedia.com, where this first appeared, as an outlet to examine the news, place it in a broader context, uncover the deceptions, pierce through the fabric of illusions, grasp the underlying factors, know the real enemy, unshackle from the system, and begin to imagine the path towards taking back our lives, one step at a time, so that one day we might truly be free…

France’s President Rejects U.S. President’s Demand for Global Oligarchy

By Eric Zuesse
November 30, 2014
Washington’s Blog

 

The Government of French President Francois Hollande has said no to the demand by the Government of American President Barack Obama that panels of international corporations be granted the power to override national laws and determine individual countries’ regulations regarding workers’ rights, consumer protections, investor protections, and other matters in which international corporations have been carrying out an international race to the bottom for non-oligarchs in order to maximize the profits of international corporations and thus the wealth and power of their controlling (i.e., oligarchic) stockholders, virtually all of whom are billionaires.

Previously, the leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate (who is selected by all Democrats in the Senate and represents the Party on this matter, even in the U.S. House, because he alone possesses the power to stop this) had said no to it, but the few conservative Democrats favor it as do virtually all Republicans, and so when Republicans take control over both houses of Congress in January, President Obama will then have solid domestic congressional support for his three gigantic proposed international-trade treaties: TTIP for Europe, TPP for Asia, and TISA for all trade in services, all three of which deals include this subordination of national sovereignty to international-corporate panels. TISA is especially key for financial services, such as accounting-standards (so as to enhance corruption, so as to deceive outside investors, with increased advantages accruing to corporate executives and board-members, the insiders who control international corporations).

President Obama, like his predecessor, believes strongly that competition should drive down wages and drive up corporate stock and bond values (upon which the billionaires primarily rely), though as a politician and especially as a ‘Democrat’ (which George W. Bush, unlike Obama, never pretended to be) he cannot afford to say this; only his policies are consistently in that direction. (“Proof of the pudding is in the eating” is the phrase for that, though Obama claims that only Republicans are to blame for this result.) But France’s President Hollande has here put his foot down, and said no to that.

Read more…