Are Billionaires ‘Policy Failures’? — Aussie Stocks Took A Beating

Anybody who thinks money will make you happy, hasn’t got money.

 American businessman David Geffen

Poor Jeff Bezos. He’s the richest man in the world. US$188 billion at the last count.

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:

On 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 billionaires coming out in support of President Joe Biden’s proposal to increase corporate tax from 21% to 28%.

Open season on the rich

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 childcare 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 cancelled 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.

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Policy failure

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 6 April), bringing the total to more than 2,700.

In the US, the number of billionaires rose from 614 to 724.

(We suspect the actual numbers are much, much higher than those reported in the Financial Times.)

And the super rich are a lot richer, with a total billionaire wealth that more than doubled in the last year — from US$5 trillion to US$13 trillion.

Readers are invited to note the similarity between this increase — US$8 trillion — and the amount of new money created by central banks during the same period — US$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.

Miserable millionaires

We sing no praises of Bezos. But we nevertheless hum a little hymn in sympathy.

It’s hard enough to keep up with the neighbours 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.

Bad taste

And when you have a lot of money, it crowds out everything else. It can become the centre 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 schmuck

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.


Dan Denning Signature

Bill Bonner,
For The Rum Rebellion

PS: Australian real estate expert, Catherine Cashmore, reveals why she thinks we could see the biggest property boom of our lifetimes — over the next five years. Click here to learn more.

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries.

A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities.

Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally.

With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance.

Bill has been a weekly contributor to The Rum Rebellion.

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