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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Money, Money, Money...

ABBA: Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, Bjorg

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
Aha-ahaaa
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world



 ABBA had a ton of hits from the mid '70s to the late '90s. Its songs are the heart of the popular musical, Mama Mia. But perhaps no ABBA song has more relevance than its 1976 recording of  Money, Money, Money.

Maybe you've seen this story: 85 of the world's richest billionaires are as wealthy as the poorest 3.5 billion people in the world!

Forbes Magazine tells us there are l,426 billionaires in the world today. So minus the 85 super wealthiest, there are 1,341 'poorer' billionaires (not counting Scrooge McDuck or Richie Rich) on the outside looking in. How's it feel, you guys, to be poorer?


Bill & Melinda Gates with Warren Buffett
Now before you get the wrong idea, I really like the rich... and so should you. Even if, in our lesser status we are envious, make fun of them or notice a few may be jerks and worse, a world without rich couldn't work. I think that's been tried. Most rich have earned their fortunes by creating opportunities and providing services for others... and many are dramatically benevolent.

Not only have Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett already committed more than half of their billions through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they have gotten 102 other 'very rich' to sign The Giving Pledge agreeing to do likewise. And they continually work to recruit others like themselves. Take a look... the Giving Pledge makes very interesting reading. 

Bill Gates once said he and his wife plan to leave their children a very small  (but still not bad) inheritance of their mega billions with the remainder to be used for continuing benevolence. These actions represent just some of the good that money can do.

And no, they and all their pals cannot solve all the world's unbalance. They have done, and will continue to do great things for humankind. Yet, there remain many, many below the poverty line that struggle mightily. These include the new poor--"not only  those laid-off blue collar workers but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers and other once-comfortable professionals," says The Atlantic. "Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money... (which) arises largely from inadequate wages." 

OK. I'll stop there because I'm trying to be apolitical.

It is ironic though, that professional athletes in many sports regularly sign million-dollar contracts and in most states, the highest paid state employee is a football or basketball coach, yet a teacher often cannot make a wage great enough to support a family. And no, it is not the athlete's or coach's fault to take what is there but our misguided judgement of value to benefit which has deep roots. Give the rich their due, but money cannot buy everything... and it certainly cannot buy poverty.

The fact is, the spread between rich and poor is widening and the middle class is 'middling' at best. The greatest benefit of a robust... or any economy goes to the wealthy. It's expensive to be poor because a far great percentage of all dollars goes to just trying to get by... and sometimes, even with help, that is not enough. Poverty is a hole without luxury, opportunity or an easy way out.

I hope and pray that those with the power to move mountains get on this case.  

 

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