back to article Bill Gates again world's richest, tops in US for 20th straight year

Bill Gates has regained his title as World's Richest Human, and has also been named the US's wealthiest person for the 20th consecutive year. According to Forbes' annual survey of the 400 top members of the silk-stockinged class, Gates elbowed Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim off the summit of Mt. Moola, posting a net worth …

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  1. Greg J Preece

    If the old saw, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" * comes to mind as you read this, your observation is well substantiated by Forbes' survey.

    Apart from the second part of it, of course, which isn't substantiated at all.

    Congrats to those who mastered the system the rest of us set up. I aspire to your position, rather than merely envy it over a pint glass.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Aspire?

      Money is like a snow ball, after you achieve critical mass, you have to be some kind of special idiot to NOT make more of it with the minimum of effort.

      I admire the breakthroughs and early success, but just how much money do these people NEED?

      At least BG is doing something philanthropic, while people like Abramovich just buy yet another huge ship (I think he now has the top 3 largest privately owned "yachts" in the world).

      Oh I like them rich guys that want to fire things into space. High 5 to them. No Branson, that's DOESN'T include you. That's not space, it's just sniffing the letterbox of where space lives on a plane powered by your lit farts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Aspire?

        I have decided that you don't NEED any of yours. Hand it all over to me, because I know better than you how it should be spent, as I am your better.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      still better at making it than giving it away

      Bill's not doing a very good job of giving it away is he. Not saying I'd do a better job though! I like to think he'll live up to his word, perhaps he'll end up giving 95% away but still remain the richest man. Ie not quite what I thought, marketing words!

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        Maybe he's making it faster than he can give it away...

      2. Jim 59

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        Giving away that much isn't so easy. If he lives another 30 years, Bill could give away 6 million pounds every day and still not reach that 95% target.

        That's like buying a brand new Vauxhall Vectra every 4 and a half minutes.

        1. TWB

          Re: still better at making it than giving it away

          'That's like buying a brand new Vauxhall Vectra every 4 and a half minutes.' - sound like something Alan Partridge might say - I like it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: still better at making it than giving it away

            "That's like buying a brand new Vauxhall Vectra every 4 and a half minutes"

            As the Vectra has been out of production since 2009, I am pretty sure most billionaires will have upgraded to the Insignia by now.

      3. RichardF

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        He (and his wife Melinda) might not be giving away the money as fast as he's earning it, but whenever I've noticed how it's being spent, they seem to be doing quite a good job.

        They've spent, I think, on mosquito nets for malaria and on childhood diarrhea in Africa, both, I'd say quite effective...

        And I think I noticed that Melinda was putting money / effort into the most effective way of reducing the misery of malnutrition - and that is contraception. Most governments don't seem able to cross into that particular taboo territory.

        And then... if you say they aren't giving away their money effectively, perhaps you'd like to suggest some one who's achieving more through their charity.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Bill's not doing a very good job of giving it away is he"

        You don't think that maybe the comment relates to the amount given in his will?

      5. rinsure
        Thumb Up

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        He's doing a pretty good of trying though:

        Through the Gates Foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ he is spearheading the campaign to eradicate Polio from the planet. That's a pretty good use of billions of dollars, IMHO.

        This is a must read, if you are in any way interested in philanthropy: http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/

        I used to despise Gates, and Microsoft. Now it's just one of them. You can probably guess which.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        He's doing a lot more through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation than most in his position, or in any other position.

        I think it goes beyond just associating his name with a worthy cause - his work to fight malaria is exemplary.

      7. ZekeStone

        Re: still better at making it than giving it away

        That's because like many of these "charities", he's only giving away the minimal amount so he can keep his "charity" tax shelter status.

        It's all about tax shelters... that's all these charities are.

    3. TheOtherHobbes

      >Apart from the second part of it, of course, which isn't substantiated at all.

      Don't talk crap. It's embarrassing.

      Here, have some facts:

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts

      1. IGnatius T Foobar

        commie fail

        How you can in the same post say "don't talk crap" and then cite Mother Jones, which is all crap, is quite confusing.

    4. Greg J Preece

      I'm sensing a lot of butthurt over the notion that wealthy people in capitalist nations might be regarded as successful, rather than scumbags.

      FTR, not exactly wealthy myself, but I see that as one more challenge among many, not a perpetual state.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess that.....

    Quantitative Easing cash got sucked right up by the 400.....

    Oh let's all just give up and go live in caves, it was easier then.....

  3. Hud Dunlap
    Joke

    Is it because of Ballmer

    The Stock Jumped after Ballmer quit. Did this push him to number 1?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it because of Ballmer

      All that proves is that what he has isn't real money - actual cash in the bank - but fake money that depends on the apparent worth of the shares he has in different companies.

  4. poopypants

    If it makes you feel any better

    It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

    If you buy something, you boost employment.

    Ditto if you invest it.

    If you rake it into a huge pile of cash and set fire to it, you reduce inflation.

    Feel better now?

    No, me neither.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: If it makes you feel any better

      What if you just hide it under the bed?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: If it makes you feel any better

        @Martin Budden

        {What if you just hide it under the bed?}

        Somebody would get paid a quite a lot of money to construct the extensions on the bed legs, the ladder to climb up into bed, and the safety rail around the mattress to stop you falling out.

        A billion dollars is 10,000,000 $100 notes, so assuming that you have a kingsize bed (You are, after all, a billionaire), a very rough calculation suggests that the pile would be about 10 feet high...

        1. Yet Another Commentard

          Re: If it makes you feel any better

          Also it would be a sizeable interest free loan to the <host nation's> national bank too, helping to reduce the deficit.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: If it makes you feel any better

        What if you just hide it under the bed?

        You would need to buy a ladder...

      3. GrumpyCrawley

        Re: If it makes you feel any better

        What if Bill starts by reducing prices of tired old Windows and Office? Think of all the OEMs, consumers, etc. that would benefit. Talk about helping the masses...

        Don't you just love wealthy people... Lets dupe consumer and corporations into over paying for lightly refreshed products. Lets use anti-competitive practices to establish market dominance. Then in the end, smile with a used-car salesman's smile as they reluctantly give it all away...

    2. JDX Gold badge

      It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

      Perhaps true but if we assume that $1bn existed already, concentrating it in one person's bank account is probably the least beneficial option.

      1. Gav

        Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

        It's a massive misunderstanding to think these trillions could ever exist in actual liquid cash. It's all estimates of the value of assets, and that value is only as much as anyone is prepared to pay, which is in turn reliant on how much is getting sold.

        If the "400 upper-crustaceans" attempted to sell their assets, in order to give anyone on the planet three hundred bucks, who would they sell it to? Who has $2.02 trillion to spare? No-one. But that's not a concern, because as soon as they started selling their assets, the value of them would plummet. The market becomes flooded, everyone is wondering why you are selling, economies crash, the actual trillions of dollars become worth far less than they were the day before, everyone loses in the resulting chaos.

        The fact is these guys are only "worth" $2.02 trillion as long as they never, ever, try to realise their worth. Which is not to say they aren't very rich indeed in a material sense. But the actual figures bandied about are little better than guesses and estimates of a scenario that could never happen.

        Apart from that; if you give everyone in the world $300, inflation immediately makes everything cost $300 more. You only make people richer by creating assets (products, services, skills), not by converting them into cash.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

          Actually, Gav, China has a pile of foreign currency 150% of that. They currently have $3.4 trillion in reserves, primarily US Dollars.

          So yes... there is someone who could buy what the "upper-crustaceans" have to sell.

        2. andy mcandy

          Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

          You just summed up the stock market very clearly and succinctly. Have a beer on me :-)

      2. TheTick

        Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

        "Perhaps true but if we assume that $1bn existed already, concentrating it in one person's bank account is probably the least beneficial option."

        However if the billion was earned on the free market (no state involvement or corporate welfare) then that billion would have been traded to the rich person in return for goods/services/expertise of at least the same value or more. The benefits have already been realised.

        1. frank 3

          Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

          "if the billion was earned on the free market (no state involvement or corporate welfare"

          =

          If the billion was earned by my team of pet unicorns.

          Because both ideas are complete fantasy.

      3. ricegf

        Re: It is impossible to have a billion dollars without that fact in some way helping others.

        @JDX: "if we assume that $1bn existed already"

        It didn't. Wealth is neither static nor inevitable, it is created by human planning, coordination, and productivity.

        Take Jeff Bezos, to pick one of the top 400 at random - he built a practical system for selling and delivering products pretty much anywhere in the USA in 2 days flat, employing thousands in regional distribution centres and growing a field of new small business entrepreneurs in the process. That was pretty darned beneficial.

        Or, if I read your comment correctly, we could do something MORE beneficial - the government could take it to bail out Bank of America from their financial mis-management. Again.

        No, overall, I'll take Bezos' wealth creation efforts over more bailouts and other exasperatingly foolish government spending any day of the week, and not begrudge him the profits.

  5. I don't always drink beer

    Poor Getting Less Poor

    Increased social mobility, access to education, improved healthcare technologies, safer and more plentiful food, more efficient systems for transport and distribution, so on and so forth....how does the author imagine the poor getting poorer?

    Furthermore, what business is it of your's how much your neighbor makes? None has been taken from you. Go out and create your own wealth.

    Envy is the domain of the perpetual loser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor Getting Less Poor

      May I disagree: the belief that the rich deserve their dominance over those whose labor has given them their riches is the "domain of the perpetual loser."

      Increased social mobility? Not in the last generation.

      Access to education? Free or low-cost in decades past, now crushingly expensive at the higher levels and downright shitty in early years.

      Improved healthcare technologies? Not if the Republicans succeed in crippling Obamacare.

      More plentiful food? Mmmmm.... Highly subsidized obesity-inducing high-fructose corn syrup, yum, yum.

      More efficient transport? Where? In what cities? At what per-fare rates? And where it does exist – even if expensive – it transports workers to below living-wage jobs. That's what you're referring to, eh?

      Señor, you're being sold a bill of goods, and you're blindly buying it. You're being ripped off by the rich and powerful. Wake up and smell the bullshit.

      Five hundred years ago, you would have made a great serf, Señor "I don't always drink beer".

      1. Franchesca

        Re: Poor Getting Less Poor

        In America there isn't a good enough social safety net to stop the poor from getting poorer.

        However, in most Northern European countries health and welfare systems provide enough support so that those at the bottom are not consumed by the struggle to simply put food on the table. This struggle has been shown to severely impare cognative function in other areas of life. Once your basic needs are covered, it is possible for those with aptitude to escape the poverty trap (while those without aptitude are more humanely treated).

        The sad thing is that the cost of putting a proper social safety net in place in America is tiny compared to one war in Iraq, or one year of infiltrating encryption standards and spying on the rest of the planet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor Getting Less Poor

      Statements of the fact:

      * Blue collar is gone. It is mostly Mccerfs now, none of which earns (in terms of their salary's buying power) anything even remotely near the salaries the blue collars used to get.

      * White collar is mostly gone. The engineering strata that operated the industries together with the blue collars is no more. Average factory engineer from 50 years ago used to have enough buying power to afford house staff. No more. Average white collar worker today ends his month in the red.

      * We have a thin layer of "privileged" white collar in the financial industry (this one is doing slightly better than their granddads) and some white collar in IT, biotech,etc which is undergoing the same disintegration process as manufacturing.

      The end result is what destroyed more than one empire of old - a severely stratified sosciety where the cerfs barely scrape a living while the few priviliged sip the drink du jour on the upper deck of yacht while paying no taxes either.

      The _LACK_ of workforce mobility of the blue collar was actually a big social stability factor. We have removed it and we will pay for it one day. Dearly. Though if you look at Detroit or the north of the UK we may have started to pay for it already.

  6. rcorrect
    Unhappy

    Food for thought

    It is easy to point a finger at the rich but they are not the only ones to blame. Sure I live below the poverty level but at least I have a roof over my head and food to eat. The soda I get at the convenience store, that money could probably feed a starving family elsewhere in the world for a day. Or how about when I buy new clothes instead of visiting the thrift store? My point is that while I am poor, I am still selfish. The only difference is I affect few instead of many, but that doesn't make me any better. I want to think that I would share billions if I had it, but until I do I won't know for sure.</rant>

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Food for thought

      If you can afford food, housing and new cloths, plus (I assume) a computer and/or smartphone, by what metric are you under the poverty line?

      Genuine question, not an attack.

      1. rcorrect

        Re: Food for thought

        For food I purchase bags beans and rice and cook them in a crock pot then for flavor add tomato soup. That is what I eat almost every day. My roach/bed bug infested apartment is old and not maintained, rent is cheap. As for my computer, it was purchased it in 2008. Shoes (no vehicle so they get a lot of use) and pants (2 pairs) need to be replaced every 6 months - 1 year. As for the metric, in the US, the poverty line is $11,490 (if I am incorrect then I apologize) and I will be about $1,000 - $2,000 short of that by end of the year. So does that answer your question? http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/13poverty.cfm#thresholds

  7. CaptSmegHead
    Headmaster

    check

    cheque

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: check

      Not in Merkin, it ain't.

  8. RobHib
    Coat

    It's time

    It's time for a discount on Windows.

    Corollary: piracy is a non-event, obviously!

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: It's time

      Recession is quite clearly non-event too.

  9. Bernard

    When a huge amount of money gets printed and pumped into the system

    it's no surprise that it ends up in the bank accounts of the rich and politically connected.

    Looking at asset price inflation over the last 10 years, it's probable that in real spending terms the rich haven't got very much richer but the poor have got very much poorer (in a lot of the third world, where the effect is most noticable because so many people spend half or more of their income on food, food prices are rising far faster than incomes and hunger is getting worse).

    We're fairly used to money being stable in the west for the last 30 years and so we're not really prepared for the long term effects of quantitative easing (apart from the rich and politically connected, who have people to advise them on these things and have been busily buying up prime real estate assets at spiralling prices), but the diminishing value of money will become apparent sooner or later and I expect minor social unrest at the very least. In the one place where quantitative easing has explicitly been ruled out (the EU) the social unrest has come sooner rather than later and isn't going to go away any time soon.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: When a huge amount of money gets printed and pumped into the system

      I don't think Warren Buffet is heavily into real estate. If you had a reasonably diversified stock portfolio, it would have risen by about 20% in the last year. To what extent this is the result of QE is a matter for debate.

  10. Don Mitchell

    Bill & Burgers

    OK, as a former Microsoft Research employee, I can't let terrible inaccuracy this stand. Dick's Is in Seattle, Billg and his buddies ate at Burger Master. Today most burger fans eat at Five Guys or Wibbley's.

    When I was still at AT&T Bell Labs in the 1980s, the company met with Microsoft to discuss some business conflict (I think it involved Cingular, or some satellite cellular scheme, but I don't recall the details now). AT&T rented a room in one of New York City's most exclusive restaurants, and billg and some other Microsoft execs joined them. When the waiter came to take Bill's order, he said, "I don't see anything on this menu I like, but I noticed there's a Burger King across the street. Would you bring me a whopper with cheese?". The waiter was unfazed, but the AT&T execs were completely floored. True story...my boss Arun Netravali was there at that dinner meeting and told me about it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's obviously not giving enough of it away.

  12. ratfox Silver badge
    Headmaster

    It is Wunderkind, not wünderkind

    I'll let you off starting this German noun with a capital, but I really don't think we need a metal umlaut here.

  13. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

    Look at the numbers

    You might want to reflect on the actual numbers. 2 trillion, if you could somehow magically transform it into cash, would cover the current US deficit for only three years. It would only cover two thirds of the current US federal budget. Given 60% + plus of the budget is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it's hard to escape two conclusions: one, you cannot fund it by just taxing the "rich", they don't have enough money, and two, the huge majority of federal budget goes on the less well off.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: Look at the numbers

      >>Given 60% + plus of the budget is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,

      But it's not, it's 45% http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44172-Baseline2.pdf you're probably bundling all the other mandatory payments such as interest on the national debt (hardly the fault of the poor?)

      >>it's hard to escape two conclusions: one, you cannot fund it by just taxing the "rich"

      Just by taxing the rich? the key point is that you can't magic money from nowhere, if "the rich" have more money than actually exists, something is desperately wrong, something like $220bn is just interest payments, and interest is "magic money", if you charge 10% interest then that 10% has to come from somewhere, it it will go to the person who has the money, the money must have been created somewhere along the line.

      >>they don't have enough money, and two, the huge majority of federal budget goes on the less well off.

      Where do you think money that pays for Social Security comes from? typically from the workers and companies they have worked for (a total of around 12.4% salary equivalent) - they have paid this in, and they will get some of it back (and your yearly statement confirms the amount), note, there is a cap after which the contribution stops being taken - i.e. when you earl a lot you keep more of it, does this make sense? and if this cap was removed the social security system would pay for itself - http://www.aging.senate.gov/crs/ss9.pdf (so yes, in this case taxing the rich fairly WOULD solve the problem).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look at the numbers

      And if they were nickels stacked from sea level they would reach all the way to Jupiter.

      How about this one this one: Half that amount would wipe out all student debt in the US.

  14. Arctic fox
    Unhappy

    Nothing much has changed since Marie Lloyd sang the following a century or so ago.

    "It's the same the whole world over,

    It's the poor that get the blame,

    It's the rich that get the pleasure,

    Ain't it all a bloody shame."

  15. The Godfather
    Pint

    Next please..

    Gates should buy HP, and make another pile putting it into shape...

  16. Amorous Cowherder

    "Money can't buy you friends, it just buys you a better class of enemies."

  17. Just_this_guy

    Whose money again?

    The money Bill is liberally scattering about the world is OURS. It's the money he took from us in extortionate licensing fees for his omnibotched software and marketing juggernaut. It could have been spent on better design, coding and testing, which would have saved hundreds of millions of people hours and years of frustration, as yet another feature fails, yet another program crashes, yet another document disappears. If I only had back the time I've spent waiting for his bloatware to boot, I could take the summer off!

    It's a debatable point of ethics whether the ends justify the means here: whether in screwing us all over for decades, Gates has done a "good" thing by imposing on the world just-about-adequate software and non-fatal stress levels while accumulating a war-chest for legitimate philanthropy. Nonetheless: it's our cash he's spending.

  18. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    Please do not iconify Bill Gates

    So ... he's got money. Big deal. He made that money by lying, cheating, and stealing. We should not be celebrating this. Gates belongs in a hall of shame. His "philanthropy" does not legitimize how he made his money -- by setting the entire technology world back by a decade or more, by ruining the lives and careers of countless others, by changing the rules of an industry that was working together to one where dog-eat-dog creates dozens of incompatible standards.

    Bill Gates spent his entire life copying Steve Jobs. It is my sincere hope that his life ends the same way Jobs' did -- and SOON.

  19. DragonLord

    I think the trick is that money tends to pool in places where there's already money. Anyone can start to make this pool if they have enough money to dig the hole a little to start with. The problem is that they amount of money you need to make to start to have a pool is constantly going up with inflation. And because of the nature of inflation at the moment, it's closing on people that currently have small pools and forcing them to use those pools for routine expenses (such as replacement white goods, car maintainance, etc.) because their day today expenses are starting to lap at their toes.

  20. Anomalous Cowshed

    I once had a friend who was [is] a multimillionnaire

    When I bent down to give £1 to a beggar, he stopped me, saying "What are you doing? I didn't get rich by giving money to beggars!"

    (PS: He had inherited all his money the year before when his father passed away)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bill Gates and taxes

    Bill Gates has promised to give away all his money. But his fund is making more money than it gives away. His fortune is increasing, not decreasing. Something does not add up. His fund has donated something like $20 billion which is quite impressive, but that amounts to something like $1 billion a year, during these 20 years. That is nothing. If BillG can get away with donating $1 billion every year, or pay taxes - which will save him the most money? Starting a charity fund, of course.

    And those charity funds has much lighter taxes. So BillG can be said to do some advanced tax planning, to get even richer. Coincidentally, he IS richer than ever before. There is no way BillG is going to give away all his money, he has fought too hard to get them.

    It is like Gene Simmons in KISS, who also promised to donate all his money. Some say Simmons is the epitome of greediness, there is no way these people are giving away their money. It is lip talk, and does not mean nothing. When BillG dies of age, his fortune will be bigger than ever, and he will never had donated all his money. But he is not here when we declare him a liar.

    What is most probable? Bill Gates lies about donating all his money, and intends to get even richer, or he really means to give away all his money? Have you seen his track record and studied his business ethics? Have you every trusted him? Do you trust him now?

    BTW, have you read about the world's richest families? Why all this talk about the worlds richest person, and why not talk about the richest families? These richest families have amassed their wealth for centuries. Bill Gates has amassed his wealth for a few decades, and he is extremely poor in comparison. These rich families work under the radar and is secretive and thrives when we talk about the "richest man on earth" so they dont get attention. Google and read about them, you will be surprised, there are some fantastic stories: Rotschild, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, etc - all with heritage from Germany, with german sounding names.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bill Gates and taxes

      > Rotschild, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, etc - all with heritage from Germany, with german sounding names.

      Being German I'd like to ask, what are you implying here? A quick turn to Google confirms at least Rothschild and Guggenheim are German-Jewish names and there are a number of sites telling us claiming Rockefellers are Jewish, too.

      Now what do you make of that? How would either being German and/or Jewish be an issue?

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Bill Gates and taxes

        Obviously they're Jewish Commie-Nazis. And apparently pink.

  22. Bladeforce

    Whats wrong with keeping a much smaller fortune and spreading the wealth within your company and its employees? If more companies did this the world would be a much better place and the wealth would be shared equally

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    According to the UN

    Bill Gates fortune is bigger than the GDP of Moldova, Albania, Tuvalu, Montserrat, Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Maldives, Palau, Burundi, São Tomé and Príncipe, Cook Islands, Anguilla, Micronesia Federated States of, Ghana, Swaziland, Tonga, Montenegro, Suriname, Dominica, Comoros, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Zanzibar, Vanuatu, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Guinea-Bissau, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Seychelles, Chad, Somalia, Antigua and Barbuda, Liberia, Gambia The, Saint Lucia, Cambodia, Djibouti, Congo Republic of the, Belize, Brunei, Bhutan, Cape Verde, San Marino, Central African Republic, Paraguay, Greenland, Lesotho, Guyana, Eritrea, Cameroon, Aruba, Latvia, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Cayman Islands, Andorra, Togo, Fiji, Netherlands Antilles, Barbados, Mauritania, Uruguay, Myanmar, Guinea, Timor-Leste, Monaco, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Bermuda, Liechtenstein, Rwanda, Niger, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Haiti, French Polynesia, Oman, Benin, Nicaragua, Bahamas, Laos, Mongolia, Palestinian Territory, Zimbabwe, Malta, Madagascar, New Caledonia, Burkina Faso, Armenia, Macedonia Republic of, Mali, Mauritius, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Mozambique, South Sudan, Iceland, Georgia, Senegal, Jamaica, Congo Democratic Republic of the, Equatorial Guinea, Botswana, Honduras, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Afghanistan, Zambia, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Estonia, El Salvador, Tanzania, Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Cyprus, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Panama, Libya, Yemen, Kenya, Macau, Lebanon, Costa Rica, Serbia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Guatemala, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Dominican Republic, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Luxembourg, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Ecuador, Cuba.

  24. Anomalous Cowshed

    Another anecdote about my rich friend

    I was staying (quite happily) at a youth hostel, when my multimillionaire friend came over and insisted on me coming over to stay with him at his massive apartment on street X of city Y in country Z.

    When I arrived, I saw a computer open on the table, and he asked me to get stuck in immediately writing essays for him as part of his application form to go to Harvard. So I understood the purpose of the invitation. My friend could hardly string two words together on paper. His father had donated money to Harvard during his lifetime, to pave the way for his son to study there. But Harvard required an application form to be filled. And part of the form involved writing 10 essays about various things one had done in life. I sat down at the computer and began working immediately. I did string out the essay writing over a number of days, though. To make it worth my while. But that was a mistake.

    There were 3 bed sheets in the house: 2 for my friend, and one for me. I could choose whether to have it on the mattress or use it as a cover. This was not really an improvement over the last time I had stayed in one of his other houses (a building with some 20 apartments, many empty, and his apartment itself had half a dozen bedrooms and bathrooms), when I was offered the sofa and a blanket. On that occasion, the cleaning lady had muttered something rude about my friend and had brought me a pair of sheets and a pillow with a pillowcase.

    For five days, I could not have a shower. The weather was cold, and for some reason, there was no hot water. It didn't seem to bother my friend, though. I was young so I decided to tough it out and just wash the bits that absolutely had to be washed. Until one day, when, having had enough of freezing, I found out that there was a secret water heating on/off button which he would switch on for himself, and then turn off after he'd had a shower.

    The huge kitchen contained no cutlery. The only food and drink in the house consisted of around a fifty to a hundred bottles of mineral water, which I was told were reserved for him. Whenever I bought something to eat, and put it in the kitchen, I often found it finished behind my back.

    One day, after the essays were finished, my friend invited me to the restaurant. I was amazed. I was careful to eat very little, to avoid him having the burden of paying too much for me. At the end of the meal, he paid for his share, and then, when I had realised that the invitation was only to enjoy his presence, not for a free lunch, and had accordingly paid for my share, he took 2 sweets from the plate where the restaurant kept sweets to offer to its patrons after meals, and he handed them to me. He swiped all the other sweets into his pockets.

    Other anecdotes available on demand!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another anecdote about my rich friend

      Why exactly are you referring to this guy as a friend? I mean I can understand why you would towards him but you can be yourself here on The Reg...

  25. M.

    U.S. President Obomba Wants it All!

    Here in the U.S. we are hearing grumblings over "the rich have too much!"

    It surely is only a matter of time when Obomba and his ilk will announce a new government "program" of siezing, then redistributing these bloke's wealth, couching it as some sort of "social equality" plan.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You do all realise that if you were to liquidate all assets across the world and distribute that money equally across the entire population.... and then come back in say 100 years, the distribution of wealth would be back to the same as it is now.....

  27. Dick Emery

    Well at least we can take solice in the fact...

    ...that right now it won't cure him of certain illnesses. Look at Jobs as case in point. You can't take your money with you. So spread it around to some of us poor plebs why dontcha!

  28. Nosher

    Net worth only doubled?

    Given that the cost of things, at least since the 80s, has roughly doubled every ten years (that £200 VIC-20 from 1981 would cost about £800 now if nothing else had changed), then a 2x increase in net worth in the same ten years is only keeping pace with inflation. I'd consider that quite disappointing for the individuals concerned (although clearly some of them have outrun that by quite a margin).

  29. Levente Szileszky

    "The rich get rich and the poor get children"

    Well, then who's richer at the end, what do you think, dear?

  30. MrRtd

    Question

    If billions of dollars are just sitting in bank accounts collecting interest, rather than being spent and circulated by thousands of people everyday, how good is it for the economy?

  31. SirDigalot

    Money seems to adhere to physics

    as has been said, the more you have the more seems to be attracted to it, rather like gravity

    That said there are plenty of examples of people ( mainly sports people) with gobs of money ending up really poor due to crap decisions and also leeches.

    however, there are numerous stories and examples of how those with means maintain their wealth, loopholes, trustfunds etc.

    I think a general consensus is it is fine to make a metric shit-ton of money, however, the more you make above a certain level the actual less of that you need and the more good it could do providing services for society.

    I think too there is a general feeling of animosity towards say a CEO who is paid massive amounts of money and bonuses etc when a company is either not doing great, has cooked the books, or generally shafted over a large amount of regular people who live on the line.

    I hope to be one day part of the rich elite, but so does many other people, the funny thing is they tend to vote representatives in who sell them on that dream and change the laws accordingly to benefit the current rich all the while telling them that it will be benefitting them when they get rich if they just work really really hard for bugger all pay now ( and probably till the day they die) as a buddy once said "sell the sizzle not the meat"

  32. ZekeStone
    Thumb Down

    Giving away his wealth? More like hiding/sheltering it.

    "Gates, however, who has pledged to give away 95 per cent of his wealth to charity,"

    Let's get one thing straight about these US-based 'charities'... they're little more than tax shelters that distribute a small portion of their money for charitable causes.

    It's also a way to get friends and family cushy jobs for a high income at a reduced tax rate.

    Charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are ALL about tax avoidance and very little about real charity.

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