The New York Times writes about the richest people today. It’s article begins as follows:
Sitting at a table, grinding his pinkie into the corner of his mouth and staring at the screen, Dr. Evil announces he is holding the world ransom for $1 million. Having been cryogenically frozen for 30 years, the comic villain created by the actor Mike Myers is shocked when he is told that $1 million isn’t a lot of money in 1997.
Trying to regain his composure, he turns to the screen, voice cracking with uncertainty, and says, “O.K. then, we hold the world ransom for $100 billion.”
Twenty years after the movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” was released, billions of dollars aren’t what they used to be, either.
Bill Gates alone is just $10 billion shy of Dr. Evil’s ransom demand, according to a list of the world’s top 10 billionaires compiled by Wealth-X, a financial research firm. Mr. Gates, the Microsoft founder, tops the list at $89.3 billion, followed by his friend Warren Buffett at $73.5 billion.
The top 10 — nine from the United States, one from Spain — have a combined net worth of $582 billion. While their wealth would certainly be enough to save the world from Dr. Evil, what they do with it in real life is the subject of great interest and debate.
That is true now more than ever. Issues around money — like wealth inequality and talk of tax cuts for the rich — are among the hottest topics of the day. And the richest president in history is sitting in the Oval Office, with billionaires sprinkled throughout his cabinet.
To some, today’s billionaires are like Dr. Evil: selfish, rapacious and bent on world domination. To others, billionaires are worthy of respect for having put their names and fortunes behind an array of philanthropic endeavors, many aimed at improving the lives of people at the very base of the wealth pyramid.
Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.