Tag Archives | Wealth

A Majority Of Congress Members Are Now Millionaires

contractsAre we on our way to a point at which being a millionaire will become virtually a prerequisite for pursuing any important political position? Via CNN:

For the first time ever, more than half of current members of Congress are millionaires, according to a new report from the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.

Among the 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more for 2012, the CRP said, citing disclosure forms filed last year.

CRP executive director Sheila Krumholz said the data reflect the reality that “in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with.”

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Shanty Town Resort Lets South Africa’s Wealthiest Pretend to be Poor…. Kind of


Wealthy South Africans who want to pretend to be poor can arrange a stay at “Shanty Town”, a part of the South African Five-Star game reserve and spa Emoya Estate.

Via Oddity Central:

A Shanty is a small hut made out of old corrugated iron sheets or other waterproof material. It is a place of dwelling for the poor, often lacking in basic amenities like electricity or running water. To be living in one, you’d have to be going through an extremely rough patch in life.

Except of course, when your shanty is located in Shanty Town, and you’re just playing ‘poor’. Yes, as bizarre as it sounds, there are people in this world who think playing poor is a fun sport. And resorts like Shanty Town exist to help them achieve the experience.

Shanty Town is a part of Emoya Estate, a South African five-star luxury game reserve and spa.

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The Incan Empire: Wealth Without Money

picchuFor students of economics and ancient civilizations alike, the strange economy of the Incan Empire is fascinating. Annalee Newitz writes for io9:

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all.

Centered in Peru, Inca territory stretched across the Andes’ mountain tops and down to the shoreline, incorporating lands from today’s Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru – all connected by a vast highway system whose complexity rivaled any in the Old World. The Inca Empire may be the only advanced civilization in history to have no class of traders, and no commerce of any kind within its boundaries. How did they do it?

Many aspects of Incan life remain mysterious, in part because our accounts of Incan life come from the Spanish invaders who effectively wiped them out.

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Rich People Feel Poor If They Have Less Than $5 Million

wealthyVia ThinkProgress, a survey of investors reveals the self-perception of the affluent in our deeply unequal society. More than two-thirds of millionaires do not feel that they are wealthy, and two-fifths of those with more than $5 million still feel non-wealthy:

Rich investors say that it takes at least $5 million to feel wealthy, according to a new investor sentiment report from UBS.

They also define being wealthy not as having a certain amount of money, but having “no financial constraints on what they do.” That does indeed likely come with a large price tag.

The inflation of how much the rich thinks it takes to be rich comes at a time of skyrocketing income inequality. The good news for the uber rich is that less than 20 percent have a pessimistic view of the long-term economic outlook. That differs sharply from the general population, as half of Americans say the economy is getting worse.

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The United States’ Capitals Of Inequality

inequalityPueblo Lands on the areas of the U.S. pushing economic disparities to new extremes:

Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area. The epicenter of the tech industry. The global vortex of venture capital. One of the most brutally unequal places in America, indeed the world.

In the distribution of income and wealth, California more resembles the neocolonial territories of rapacious resource extraction than it does Western Europe. The only states that compare to California’s harsh inequalities are deep southern states structured by centuries of racist fortune building by pseudo-aristocratic ruling classes, and the East Coast capitals of the financial sector.

It’s a strange club, the super-inequitable states of the U.S. This list pairs the bluest coastal enclaves of liberal power with the reddest Southern conservative states. In terms of wages and wealth these places have a lot in common.

The economies of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama remain bound by racial inequalities founded in slavery and plantation agriculture; the wealthy elite of all three states remain a handful of white families who control the largest holdings of fertile land, and own the extractive mineral and timber industries, and the regional banks.

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Is it Time to Call “Capitalism” an Existential Threat?

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Khannea Suntzu writes:

A few years ago I argued that rampant disparity in terms of affluence and poverty (or opportunity versus marginalization) in the world might be interpreted as an existential risk. In other words, a very large number of human beings might literally be pushed in to premature death by the combination of (a) disparity and (b) accelerating technologies. My point in 2007 was that technology is increasingly something that more rich people “purchase” (or invest in), and reap benefits from. So in effect I argued that at some point in the none too distant future technology might create products only for people who have money; lots of people would be without jobs and effectively unable to generate any meaningful income, and be displaced from the basic range of essential goods and services to literally survive.

This point was in some other form made by Jeremy Rifkin, Marshall Brain, Thomas Frey, Frederico Pistono and several others, and each placed the emphasis a little differently.

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Cops in Florida Go “Bum Hunting”

Picture: 83d40m (cc)

Another example of biased framing by the mainstream media: this is an Associated Press article, and most outlets have been running it under the headline “Homeless are a Challenge for Sarasota, Fla.” You know, as if the homeless are the problem as opposed to the people being given problems. The Washington Post, however, runs it with the more accurate and informative headline “Sarasota’s wealthy and homeless clash in Florida city’s downtown; ACLU has filed 5 lawsuits“:

On a recent sunny winter day on a downtown Sarasota street corner, a cluster of homeless men lounged on the back steps of a building, grimy backpacks and bags at their feet, while a few folks ambled to the nearby bus station.

Parked at a meter just feet from them was a red Ferrari and around the corner was Sur la Table, an upscale cookware store offering $400 juicers.

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Immortality is Not Covered by Your Insurance

The introduction of radical life extension technologies will only exacerbate current social and economic disparities already blindingly apparent to anyone willing to peek beyond the binders of the cult of unfettered capitalism. Like any other kind of health care, unlimited access to the best and most effective treatment is limited to the very rich, and what is virtual immortality if not the extremity of medical care?

Immortality by way of virtual existence (“brain upload” in all of its variants) or physical existence (slowing the biological clock to a near stop), will be – much like the very best in cancer treatment, or priority access to organ transplants, or a thousand other technological answers to the woes of the flesh – an option for the very wealthy and powerful first, and maybe the rest of us later – but only at an extremely high price.

Rise of a vampire nation:

Imagine if you will the economic bloodsuckers and bluebloods – the alpha predators of the American savannah – granted a hundred lifetimes to accumulate even more wealth and power: A family of aristocratic vampires that would leave Dracula trembling in fear.… Read the rest

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Forgiveness and Radical Egalitarianism: When Nations Emulate Jesus, Buddha, and Gandhi

Today’s major religions and spiritual disciplines such as Yoga and Zen lack officially expressed political preferences (PROUT, Ananda Marga Yoga’s social-economic component could be the one exception http://www.anandamarga.org/social-philosophy/prout.htm ). Likewise, radical Leftists in the many varieties of communism, socialism, and anarchism lack an equal focus on individual spiritual growth; historically, some have lacked a focus on nonviolence as well. In short, a spiritual politics or a political spirituality is needed that considers the ecology of the planet and the specific needs of every nation of the world.

Two and a half years ago, I retired as an elementary school teacher at the age of 60, in part to study some of things I did not quite master in high school and college. As I now study European, US, and world history, I am just amazed at the countless, stupid wars that have been fought because of greed, aggrandizement, and imperialism. Equally troubling to me is the fact that about half of the world– over 3 billion people–lives on less than $2.50 a day!… Read the rest

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African King Was Richest Man Ever

Mansa MusaIf you've never heard of Mansa Musa I of Mali, you should at least know that he was the world's richest man – ever! The top ten richest people in all of history are as follows: 1. Mansa Musa I, (Ruler of Malian Empire, 1280-1331) $400 billion 2. Rothschild Family (banking dynasty, 1740- ) $350 billion 3. John D Rockefeller (industrialist, 1839-1937) $340 billion 4. Andrew Carnegie (industrialist, 1835-1919) $310 billion 5. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (last Emperor of Russia, 1868-1918) $300 billion 6. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII (last ruler of Hyderabad, 1886-1967) $236 billion 7. William the Conqueror (King of England, 1028-1087) $229.5 billion 8. Muammar Gaddafi (former Libyan leader, 1942-2011) $200 billion 9. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company founder, 1863-1947) $199 billion 10. Cornelius Vanderbilt (industrialist, 1794-1877) $185 billion John Hall reports for the Independent:
When we think of the world’s all-time richest people, names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and John D Rockefeller immediately come to mind...
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