Billionaires Versus Poverty

The Forbes list of billionaires has just been released, and I cannot help but wonder if any of these people have a conscience. The list of billionaires country by country is getting longer every year, and the amount of wealth these few people have amassed is also growing at an alarming rate.

Carlos Slim-The World's Richest Man

Today, the world’s richest man is mexican telecom giant Carlos Slim with an estimated wealth of $74bn, an increase of 20.5% over the last year. Second place goes to Microsoft’s Bill Gates with $56bn with Warren Buffet of the Berkshire Hathaway Group coming in third with $50bn. I find it most distasteful that so much money can go to a single person when there are so many people starving in the world.

Let’s face it, for Carlos Slim, or any of them, to spend all their billions sensibly they would have to live at least two maybe three lifetimes and still would not use it all up. So if you have that much money, is it morally correct to amass such a fortune and do nothing with it but use it to get more?

Mexico Slum Area

Mexico too has a great many poor and deprived citizens, but if Mr. Slim would give $60 or $70bn it would go a long way in alleviating these problems, and he would still have more money than  he could spend in his lifetime. Certainly enough for the huge villas and a Ferrari for every day of the week.

I can only assume these people have only one real goal in life, and that is to make more money. The united wealth of the 790 confessed billionaires in the world ($2.6 trillion) could solve nearly all the hunger, sickness and poverty on earth, if they had more of a conscience. I could not be happy knowing that I had so much money and could not spend a great deal of it helping those who cannot help themselves, like the starving in Africa.

I fully realize that a billion dollars is not what it used to be, and it doesn’t buy as much, but $50-60-70bn. That’s a mountain of money in any currency.

Poverty In India

For example, India has millions of people living below the poverty line and yet, this country currently tops the world rankings for the number of billionaires at 23 with a combined wealth of $99bn. In all good conscience, I could not live with myself if I did nothing to spread my over-abundance of wealth with the needy.

Bill Gates-A Rich Philanthropist

From what I know, Bill Gates is the only one who is publicly making use of his money by helping those in dire need, a fact that moved him from 1st to 2nd place in the world rankings, and got him the James C Morgan Global Humanitarian Award in 2006. Since he retired as head of Microsoft he has used his accumulated wealth to provide technology that will help lift people out of poverty and I applaud him for it.

I have to wonder why more of these mega-rich people do not do the same. Its a shame more of them don’t have a feeling of guilt when they count their money. I know I would!

Roy.

2 Responses to “Billionaires Versus Poverty”

  1. James Says:

    This post is idiotic. First, these billionaires don’t just have billions sitting in a room for them to take a bath in. Its tied up in stocks, ownership in companies. Second, even if they wanted to give it all away the couldnt. You can’t just go to wal street and say “yeah hi I have 54 billion dollars worth of microsoft stock id like to sell!” If they tried to sell it all it would take time, word would get out and prices would tank. This would make them worth less, alot less. Carlos slim donates massive amounts to charity. Third, over a billion people live under the poverity line. If all the billionares decided to liquidate their holdings (which would screw up the international economy so bad who knows what would happen) they would only have enough to give everyone 2900 bucks. Yes you can do alot with this but it wouldn’t fix the world. Im a 19 year old with an associates in finance I am hardly qualified to make any sort of predictions or judgements, but this one was obvious

    Like

    • Hi James,
      Nice to hear from you. I appreciate your views but they do not get to the heart of the problem. I agree that for all the billionaires to liquidate their assets would cause chaos on Wall Street, but that is not the point. They are all clever enough to work out that problem, and if they were truely dedicated, they could release vast amounts of their fortunes. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been travelling the world trying to sign up the worlds billionaires to their charity scheme to do global good, Carlos Slim for one refused to join, for he says “He is not into charity!”
      http://www.observer.com/2010/wall-street/carlos-slim-not-charity
      He believes that creating jobs is the best way, but while he opens more and more factories etc., it may create jobs but at the same time it just makes him richer, ref. his sudden jump of 20.5% in wealth last year. I do not deny that he does charity work, like opening schools etc. but considering the size of his fortune it doesn’t seem enough. His biggest effort to date has been to open a museum of art in Mexico:
      http://blog.agent4stars.com/category/charity/carlos-slim-foundation/
      I have no problems with this, but it doesn’t help the poor does it! The estimated $800m spent constructing and stocking the place would perhaps have been better spent on shipping earth-moving equipment to Haiti in order to clear away the rubble left by last years eartquake for example.
      You should not misunderstand the thrust of the article, for I did not say that all billionaires should just give away vast amounts of their fortunes, but just be more involved in charity work on a global scale to relieve the suffering of the less fortunate. The example I quoted of Haiti should be enough to give you an idea. Clearing the rubble is the biggest problem and it will take an estimated two years due to a lack of earthmoving equipment. If I was lucky enough to be in the billionaires club I could buy 500 machines, and provide the labour to move the rubble in maybe six months. For only after the rubble is cleared can reconstruction begin.
      I agree with many people that the answer to e.g, the African food shortage problem, is not pumping in food by the ton every year, but giving the people the tools to grow their own food, which in the long term will provide them with sustainability. If I were a billionaire, that is where I would concentrate my efforts.
      The world is never short of disasters these days and the mega-rich can do much to alleviate the suffering of people in the aftermath.
      I hope you have a better understanding of the point I was trying to make.
      Best Regards,
      Roy.

      Like

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