Some fine feathers and furs are going to be ruffled by a report that was published today by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). The title of the report is “Outing the Oligarchy, Billionaires Who Benefit From Today’s Climate Crisis.”
No matter how you feel about their conclusions, IFG certainly deserves an A for effort. This is a big piece of work. Your left leaning Poli. Sci. prof would have loved it for its thoroughness and its 100+ properly documented references. The report even cites the Forbes Billionaire’s List, twice.
What I’m looking forward to with eager anticipation (while not holding my breath), is to see how, or if, Forbes covers this report. I’m guessing that they might offer a few tepid props to IFG (along with some smug, self congratulatory comments about how “even they rely on us for their data.”). Forbes could conceivably agree with them; that a couple of the “bad ones” are in fact guilty of dumping a lot of schmutz into the environment.
The report states right up front that it “aims to inform both the climate community and the Occupy movement by ‘following the money’ to the very top”. So you can bet your next billion that if Forbes deigns to comment on it, they will have some snarky things to say about IFG and “their ilk”. (To be fair, compared to Fox News, Forbes’ attitude toward climate change is almost tree-huggerish. ) Climate change: Not as bad as we thought it was going to be.
52 individuals are named in the report. Every continent (except Africa) is represented. (The report lists Rupert Murdoch as an American, but I don’t think he will mind if I call him “an Aussie”. Australia’s a continent, isn’t it? Aside from the Russians, the only European who made the list, is former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
The sequence of the list is based on how rich Forbes thinks you are. So Mexico’s Carlos Slim ($63.3 billion) bats first, followed by The Koch Brothers ($50 Billion) and then Brazil’s Eike Batista ($30 Billion). The rest of the list is comprised of non-household names. (Well, nobody in our house knows them, except for the household member who writes the blog, Billionairechronicles.net.)
Highly ranked Forbes Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, failed to make the “Dirty Billionaires” but even they don’t escape being criticized by IFG.
In addition to profiling what it considers to be the environmental harm done by these “folks”, the report includes a 34 page “treatise” (by Jack Santa Barbara, Ph.D) entitled “Wealth, Power, and the Future of The Planet: Four Arguments Against the Extreme Concentration of Wealth”. Santa Barbara suggests that “Wealth accumulation is often accomplished by illegal means, but can also derive from the unjust (but legal) pressure that the wealthy use to influence lawmakers to legislate in their favor.” (I would add, judges adjucating.) He continues, “The accumulation of extreme wealth is the result of laws that inappropriately reward the marginal contributions of individual innovation but ignore the vastly larger contributions that flow from the heritage of common knowledge. This extreme wealth which, which has gone into private hands, truly belongs in the public purse. The wealthy didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it.”
Jeez Jack, did you make all that up yourself? You could make a fortune writing copy for “the other side.” Just love “the public purse.” Seriously, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman might have to pause for a moment, thinking about how they might respond.
I’m afraid that I might be getting into an area that’s way above the pay grade of my economics academic credentials (none), but just for laughs and giggles, I’ll take a crack at it. It seems that what Professor Santa Barbara is rightly complaining about, is not so much the inefficiency of “the market” or even the justness of allowing the market to provide the means to determine how wealth is distributed. (His “Public Purse” does make me a little squeamish.) I’d like to think that what he’s getting at is; The market is not the problem. The problem is, the market is rigged.
According to the always reliable Forbes, there are about 1,000 (give or take a few) billionaires on the planet. I say, the other 6,840,506,000 of us, need to do a better job making sure that our billionaire brethren keep their mitts off the “invisible hand.” I am suggesting that we should actually try to implement the law of supply and demand, and put an end to the golden rule*
*He who has the gold rules.