Gold News

Open Season on the Rich

Money won't make you happy...
 
POOR Jeff Bezos. He's the richest man in the world. $188 billion at the last count, writes Bill Bonner in his Diary of a Rogue Economist.
 
Yet, through no fault of his own, he is cast as a villain. An enemy of the people. A greedy b*st*rd. An avaricious parvenu. A show-off with a carbon footprint as big as Texas.
 
And now this – he's a tax-dodger, too, according to LoveMoney:
"Last Monday, protestors gathered outside the Washington and New York homes of the richest person in the world and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, over his company's taxes.
 
"Organised by Patriotic Millionaires, a group of millionaires who believe in the rich paying higher taxes, the group targeted Bezos on Tax Day after calculations by the progressive Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that Amazon only paid a 9.4% federal income tax rate in 2020, less than half the statutory 21%.
 
"The attack on Bezos, which also featured mobile billboards, came despite the retail billionaire coming out in support of President Joe Biden's proposal to increase corporate tax from 21% to 28%."
Oh my. Which is more pathetic? The millionaires, who think it is somehow "patriotic" to give the feds more capital to squander? Or Bezos himself...trying to deflect the mob by supporting a tax increase?
 
Bezos has no reason to stoop and crawl. He didn't write the tax laws. And if there are loopholes in it, they're meant to be used.
 
After all, what good would a tax credit for child care be if no one took advantage of it?
 
It must not be easy, being a high-profile billionaire. It's illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, race, or religion...
 
...but it's open season on these rich SOBs.
 
Say you "hate Asians" or "hate Jews" and you will be canceled immediately.
 
But announce on Twitter that you "hate billionaires" and you will have thousands of followers. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders say billionaires should be liquidated.
 
And Dan Riffle, an aide to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says that "every billionaire is a policy failure."
 
If so, there are a lot more policy failures than there used to be.
 
According to the Financial Times, the world minted nearly 700 new ones in the last 12 months (to April 6), bringing the total to more than 2,700.
 
In America, the number of billionaires rose from 614 to 724.
 
(We suspect the actual numbers are much, much higher than those reported in the FT.)
 
And the super rich are a lot richer, with a total billionaire wealth that more than doubled in the last year – from $5 trillion to $13 trillion.
 
Readers are invited to note the similarity between this increase – $8 trillion – and the amount of new money created by central banks during the same period – $9 trillion.
 
By the look of things, 88 cents of every dollar of stimmy money went to the billionaires.
 
Therein, of course, hangs a tale...one that will have to hang on for another 24 hours.
 
For today, our subject is not the why or the how...but the who.
 
We sing no praises of Bezos. But we nevertheless hum a little hymn in sympathy.
 
It's hard enough to keep up with the neighbors in poor barrios. Imagine what it's like trying to keep up with Jeff Bezos or Tesla founder Elon Musk!
 
Maybe that's why the suicide rate among the rich is higher than it is for the poor. TIME reported on this nine years ago:
"A new paper from the San Francisco Federal Reserve shows that, all else being equal, suicide risks are higher in wealthier neighborhoods, a morbid demonstration of the folly of trying to 'keep up with the Joneses.'
 
"Daniel Wilson, senior economist at the San Francisco Fed, and two co-authors found that for two individuals with the same income but living in two different counties, the one who lives in the county with a higher average income is 4.5% more likely to commit suicide."
But there is another glaring explanation for why the rich feel this pain more than others: They know something the poor don't.
 
That was Freud's explanation. He said he'd rather have a rich patient than a poor one, because the rich fellow already knows that money won't solve his problems.
 
That is why rich people must be the most miserable people in the world. The poor man still has hope. He can buy a lottery ticket and imagine how he might soon be on Easy Street.
 
But the rich have already won the lottery. They know the streets are rough, no matter which one you're on.
 
And when you have a lot of money, it crowds out everything else. It can become the center of your life...taking up your time...your energy...and your attention.
 
The rich try to distract themselves by getting involved in charities, art, high-life spending, or low-life politics. Some, like legendary investor Warren Buffett, make a challenge of it...focusing on the rate of return, rather than the amount accumulated.
 
Others, like Bill Gates, go into world-improvement mode – giving away huge amounts to their pet causes. 
 
Still others just try to enjoy it...building vast, vulgar mansions...buying gaudy boats...taking exhausting vacations or cluttering up the world with bad taste on a colossal scale.
 
But when they move into bigger houses, they take their fears, insecurities, and failures – like family heirlooms – with them.
 
They wander through their charmless piles...searching behind the Palladian columns...looking under the cushions of the 12-foot sofas...exploring the five-stall garage with its collector cars...and why not, a vintage Harley Fat Boy, too...
 
...then into the library...where they look at the diplomas on the wall...at the framed letter from the White House...at the awards for supporting the Kiwanis...and all the marks of distinction and recognition accumulated over the years, like dents on an old car.
 
They search high and low...desperately trying to find something, anything...to prove that they are worth their money.
 
Poor Jeff Bezos just can't catch a break. Here's CNN Business:
"The world's richest man is reportedly buying a boat, though that word feels inappropriately sensible for the monstrosity going to Captain Bezos: a 417-foot superyacht that's so massive it has its own "support yacht" with a helipad, according to Bloomberg. The estimated cost, not including the boat's support boat, is $500 million."
But even with a boat the size of Manhattan Island, Bezos will probably still feel like an inadequate schmuck.
 
Poor fellow.

Bill Bonner has co-authored a number of New York Times Bestsellers including Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Markets and Messiahs. In his own opinion, Bill's most recent title, A Modest Theory of Civilization: Win-Win or Lose, is his best work yet. Bill also founded The Agora, a worldwide community for private researchers and publishers, in 1979. Financial analysts within the group have exposed and predicted some of the world's biggest shifts since that time, starting with the fall of the Soviet Union back in the late 1980s, to the collapse of the Dot Com (2000) and then mortgage finance (2008) bubbles, and more recently the election of President Trump.

See full archive of Bill Bonner articles

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