Forbes has released its annual update on the 400 richest Americans, with a 55-year-old college dropout by the name of Bill Gates still leading the list. His buddy Warren Buffett comes in second; Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, is third; and the Koch brothers, David and Charles, are tied for fourth with $25 billion apiece. (George Soros is seventh at $22 billion).
Drawing upon the annual Forbes estimates, the folks at the Center of American Progress have charted the fortunes of the Koch brothers over the past 10 years. And I think it’s very interesting.
While I have political differences with the Koch brothers, I don’t begrudge them the success that they have enjoyed, not in the least. These aren’t CEOs squeezing shareholders for more and more money; they themselves are the company owners, and they’ve clearly made wise business decisions.
Instead, I’m troubled by the gaping contrast between their political rhetoric and their own experience. Through the right-wing groups that they control and fund, and through their own statements, they describe an American economy that is so overrun with rules and regulations, so handicapped by high taxes and so deeply hostile to the interests of the wealthy that it has become difficult if not impossible to do business.
They have a special degree of disdain for President Obama. This summer, in a secret convention in Colorado of some of the nation’s wealthiest people, Charles Koch urged attendees to donate a million dollars apiece to his effort to defeat Obama, a fight that he called “the mother of all wars over the next 18 months, for the life or death of this country.”
Yet as the chart above demonstrates, despite the crippling restrictions allegedly placed on capitalism, the two brothers have somehow managed to more than quintuple their combined wealth, from roughly $7.5 billion to $50 billion, over the last seven years. In the last three years alone, most of it during the presidency of the much-despised Kenyan Marxist usurper destroyer of America, they have increased their wealth by a remarkable $20 billion. That three-year increase alone is more than 200,000 times the median household wealth in this country.
Again, I don’t begrudge them that success. I just don’t understand how they can then turn around and complain incessantly about how terribly this country and this administration treats them and their peers, because incontrovertible evidence to the contrary is right there on their own bottom line.
What more do they want?
– Jay Bookman