Tag Archives | Wealth

The Richest Politicians In Congress

Michael-Linda-McCaulRoll Call has crunched the financial data to figure out the wealthiest members of Congress and compiled a list the top 50. Ol’ mule John Kerry comes in third, followed by California representative Darrell Issa. The number one spot is held by Texas congressman Michael McCaul, who possesses about $300 million in assets, largely a result of his marriage to the daughter of Lowry Mays, the CEO and founder of the Clear Channel empire.

Looking at the entire list, the common theme, if any, is real estate investment and family money. Very few of the richest appear to have made their fortune from any activity that most people would consider a contribution to society — the most admirable is probably Issa, who founded an electronics company that manufactures car alarms. The surest conclusion to be drawn is that the estate tax will not be boosted anytime soon.

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Internet Billionaire Wants to Create ‘Libertarian’ Islands

Freedom IslandVia the NY Daily News:

Peter Thiel has made his fortune by being part of the next big thing: He was a co-founder of Paypal and one of the early investors of Facebook. But a new Details profile sums up his new plans: “Forget startup companies. The next frontier is startup countries.”

Thiel has donated $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, the brainchild of Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer and grandson of economist Milton Friedman. Here’s the gist: creation of libertarian, sovereign nations built on oil-rig-type platforms anchored in international waters and free from the laws and moral codes of any other country.

Plans for the prototype include a movable, diesel-powered 12,000-ton structure that could house 270 residents. The goal would be to eventually link hundreds of the structures together. Friedman’s timeline is to launch offices off San Francisco next year, get a full-time settlement within seven years and eventually diplomatic recognition from the UN.

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Should There Be A Tax On Wealth?

imagesWarren Buffett says we need a significantly higher income tax for the super-rich. But could that argument be a red herring? Partial Objects writes that the real conversation we need to be having is about taxing wealth — i.e., Buffett’s $45 billion fortune, not the paltry millions he made in 2010:

Warren Buffett wants us to stop coddling the super-rich. He argues for superlatively higher taxes on those with incomes greater than $1 million a year.

Let’s say we take Buffett’s advice, and we raise taxes so that those highest 400 income earners pay an additional 20% more in income taxes (i.e. 41.5 instead of 21.5). That would mean an additional $18 billion in revenue. Nice, right?

The US doesn’t tax wealth, but other countries do. If we did, at a modest 10%, it would mean an additional $140 billion in revenue every year. But we never talk about taxing wealth, only income.

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Who Rules America? Breaking Down the Top 1%

Here's an excerpt from an article by G. William Domhoff on Global Research. This may not exactly be news to some of us, but it certainly re-affirms a lot:
...the bottom line is this: A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes. They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%. Moreover, those at the very top have no incentive whatsoever for revealing or changing the rules. I am not optimistic.
(Full Article Here)
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Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

Photo: steelman (CC)

Jehovah's Witnesses. Photo: steelman (CC)

This is one of the most interesting studies on comparative religions that I have seen in a long time. Who’d be a Jehovah’s Witness, eh? David Leonhart reports for the New York Times:

The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.

The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.

On the other end are Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists. In each case, 20 percent or fewer of followers made at least $75,000.

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China Outlaws Advertisements Promoting Luxury Goods And Lifestyles

554252494_47a4e801ffIn an effort to contain class resentment stemming from a growing wealth gap, China has outlawed public ads that extol luxurious or ‘high end’ things. Are they onto something? Partial Objects takes note:

The clean up means commercials posted or aired in public can no longer include words like “supreme”, “royal”, “luxury” or “high class”, all of which frequently appear in Chinese promotions for real estate developments, vehicles and wines.

This move is designed to deal with the growing resentment about the wealth gap that exists between (some) urban and rural Chinese.

But note that they aren’t banning the wealth itself, or taxing it to oblivion; but managing the appearance of wealth, the description of wealth. It’s still okay to sell high end real estate, just don’t describe it as “elite” or “luxury.”

The Chinese government is fighting a linguistic battle, not an economic one. Anyone who sees a nice car may want one, but it is the description of that car and not the car itself that makes it an aspirational good.

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If It Flies, Floats Or Fornicates, Always Rent It

He may be plugging his new book, but Felix Dennis has some pretty perceptive things to say about rich people, himself included. Robert Frank profiles him for the Wall Street Journal:

Felix Dennis, the shaggy British publishing tycoon, poet and author, always seems to have wise words about getting and being rich.

A Brief Guide to the Getting of MoneyIn his first book, “How to Get Rich,” Dennis posited that anyone with $2 million to $4 million in assets is merely “comfortably poor.” For him, it takes $150 million to be truly rich.

He also delivered some memorable (and very true) one-liners like: “the richer you are and the more financial advisers you employ, the less likelihood there is that you can ever discover what you are really worth.”

Of spending, he wrote: “If it flies, floats or fornicates, always rent it.”

Dennis has a new book, called “The Narrow Road: A Brief Guide to the Getting of Money,” which is more how-to than the memoir of “How to Get Rich.” Most of the book is a life map for entrepreneurs.

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42% Of American Millionaires Say They Aren’t Rich

millionaireDo you feel sorry for these people? Reuters reports on the millionaires who need more money to feel rich:
More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich. Indeed many would need to have at least $7.5 million in order to feel they were truly rich, according to a Fidelity Investments survey. Some 42 percent of the more than 1,000 millionaires surveyed by Fidelity said they did not feel wealthy. Respondents had at least $1 million in investable assets, excluding any real estate or retirement accounts. "Every person in the survey is wealthy," said Sanjiv Mirchandani...
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