How to Prevent More Billionaires from Happening

How did we end up with an infestation of billionaires?

Imagine a society with no billionaires.

Numerous countries have tried to accomplish this, but nearly every time they do, the United States intervenes, sometimes covertly like Reagan did in Central America with the contras, and sometimes overtly and explicitly, as JFK did with the attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

We love and defend our billionaires and multimillionaires; after all, we have more of them than any society in the world. The result is that our political system has been corrupted to third-world levels, our middle class has been reduced to servility and deep indebtedness, and a UN representative who recently visited the American South was shocked to find infant mortality, lifespans and hookworm infestations as bad as in some of the world's poorest nations.

And this is the official policy of the United States.

Bill Gates, arguably one of our more benign billionaires, was recently on TV proudly noting that he and his wife have given away "more than $40 billion." Without specific government programs allowing monopolistic behavior and extending government intellectual property protections for extended periods (something Jefferson fought against unsuccessfully), Gates would merely be a multimillionaire.

Does society benefit from having billionaires? And if not, why do we "allow" (and in fact, openly promote) such wealth accumulation, and where did this all begin?

Read more here.


Edward Dodson's picture
Edward Dodson 6 years 16 weeks ago

There is a moral case against all taxation. The problem is that too many people drive income from monopoly privilege in the form of Ricardian rents. Rent is a value that accrues to a location or natural asset with in inelastic supply, such as a frequency of the broadcast spectrum. These values are not produced by individuals; they occur as population increase and demand results in scarcity. This was explained in the writings of all the political economists from Adam Smith to Henry George and even Karl Marx. Rents are the appropriate and legitimate source of public revenue. Economists who have studied the role rents play in economies estimate the aggregate rent fund at around one-third of Gross Domestic Product, perhaps more. Only a fraction of this rent fund is today captured to pay for public goods and services. Mason Gaffney, emeritus professor of economics at the University of California has written extensively on this subject and identifies a long list of sources of rent that are privately appropriated when they should be publicly captured. Thus, by failing to capture rents, taxes are imposed on those who actually produce goods and provide services.

Changing the way government at all levels collects public revenue has actually gone in a 180 degree wrong direction, worsened by a dramatic reduction in the gains on the sale of financial assets, gains that are misrepresented as "capital gains." Actual capital goods (i.e., buildings machinery, technologies) never increase in resale value; they are depreciating assets. The gains on financial instruments result from speculation in the casino markets for corporate shares and bonds issued by businesses and governments.

Absent the direct taxation of rents, the best alternatives are a progressive individual income tax and a progressive estate tax (measures embraced by Thomas Paine in his remarkable paper "Agrarian Justice").

If we are to tax individual income, the key is to distinguish between income earned as wages or salaries producing goods or providing services, and income DERIVED from passive and speculative investment. Tax efficiency, tax equity and simplification of compliance and administration can be achieved by a structure that exempts all individual incomes up to some amount (e.g., the national median income), eliminating all other exemptions or deductions. Above the exempt amount, ranges of income would be taxed at an increasing rate of taxation, the ranges and rates determined as part of the legislative process to achieve a balanced budget. The assertion here is that incomes at the highest ranges can be taxed at a very high rate of taxation without materially impacting individual consumption, and that this level of income is largely rent-derived from speculative activity in financial instruments and land.

A similar structure is aguably appropriate for estates. We can exempt all estates up to the national median, then impose an increasing rate of taxation on higher ranges of inherited wealth.

Edward J. Dodson, Director

School of Cooperative Individualism

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 6 years 16 weeks ago

I wish someone with more energy and skill than I have would find a particular article in Look magazine from the 1960's or 1970's. That article pointed out why America would never have a billionaire. The information in that article would emphasize that we do not need to pass a specific law to that no can accumulate a billion dollars. Such things as a 91% tax rate, pensions are liabilities, enforcing are immigration laws, having reasonable tariffs, etc. serve the purpose.

It seems to me that passing "card check" would enable all the necessary policies to be carried out.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 6 years 16 weeks ago

Pretending to understand what you are saying, there seems to be a piece (95% per Thom) of tax policy missing. It seems that you are looking at taxation as source of revenue (5%). The pieces consist of the carrot and the stick (I like the the ice cream and the whip).

I would like you to address the interesting number that when Reagan lowered the top tax rate from 78%(?) to 35%(?), the top earners paid 3 times as much in taxes

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 6 years 16 weeks ago

Could anything be less relevant at this point than asking whether the US billionaire's club is good for the country? That question was appropriate in the 1980s. Everything has changed since then.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

They are the equlivent of yesteryears Pharos. And they like it like that.

They have more money and assets than many countries, if they commit any crimes their money should be confiscated and used for public services.

And the laws should prevent it from being used to lobby or construct in any way laws of the USA.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 6 years 15 weeks ago

There IS more than one way to communicate. Quit complaining.

A Point to point benign laser communication. (Yes things will fly in the way of these things so they need to be redundant.) The Internet is redundant too.

And improving Li-Fi.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 15 weeks ago

#1 - Of the belief and on the basis that accountant guilds and lobbyists prefer tax to be complex... so thus ensure it remains just so

And, for obvious reasons... self interest

Suggest abolishing all tax with exception of that upon expenditure

With necessary exemption for the like of disabled, retired, unemployed et al

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 15 weeks ago

Confidently expect comment that it can not work or is not feasable

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Most people do not see how the 1% live. Behind secured gates. They travel in private jets. They own several homes. They have property managers that shop for them. They socialize in private clubs. They dine in private clubs.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 15 weeks ago

So what is it that Gates, Bezos, Buffett, Zuckerberg, and Ellison did to you to make you think you deserve their money. The five wealthiest people in the US, all self made. It just blows my mind to think that anyone would even consider limiting how much wealth a person can accumulate. So would America be a better place if those five packed up their wealth and left the country. Five less horrible billionaires to ruin your country. Of course not so don't over tax them and chase them away just like California and NY are doing and Detroit did.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

"Tax the rich, feed the poor"
"Til there are no rich no more"...

Alvin Lee and Ten Years After.
"I'd Love to Change the World"
Circa: 1971.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Kend, Do you think that those listed could afford to pay their employees more? Or should they pay as low as they can get away with and keep the money that they cannot possibly spend in a lifetime. They accumulate wealth while the employees barely get by check to check. Greed is a vicious animal. The one with the most at the end does not necessarily win and you cannot take it with you.

gumball's picture
gumball 6 years 15 weeks ago

Billionaires get their wealth from the rise in the value of an asset; stock. Not income.

Jeff Bezo's salary is $81,000.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Why do you Trolls come on this site and post with no reference absolute falsehoods. Gumball you are a fucking idiot. Do 2 seconds of research. You post this stuff and this is what is killing you, the morbidly rich.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 15 weeks ago

Rick Steve,

Everything Gumball and kend gave as examples was fact and you know it, you are becoming more and more unhinged and obsessed with other peoples money every day. Watching you implode is a sad thing. I can't imagine anyone living like that. I wish you well.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Legend, what Jeff bezos pays his employees is none of my business. It is a private company. It is between him, his share holders and the employees. I always believed employees should be well looked after as they are your biggest asset, I always payed my employees well. If my competitors didn't I got their best employees because they where to greedy. That is how business works. Legend, you need to understand that the only helping hand you are ever going to get is at the end of your arm. It is a tough, mean unfair world out there and it's not going to change. If people like me are taxed too much we leave. I just put a offer on a building out side of my city because our taxes are getting to high. The next county has no business taxes. Perfect example. There is my research.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

The peasants have spoken in defense of their King.

One more link for the trolls to ignore. They will reply with factless Foxmerized opinion.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Legend the only people to blame for these high CEO wages is the share holders. If they are stupid enough to allow it they deserve what they get. Again, if I don't buy stocks so it is none of my business what they make. What we should be worried about is the pension plans. Most of them are under water. Although the huge gains recently have helped them out, both private and public pension are in long term trouble. If you have a pension or are going to get one get involved. Research how it's doing and if they are paying CEO's too much pressure who ever runs it to take money out of those companies. Bitching about it will not change anything.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

As predicted factless opinion response. What that chart represents is "Trickle Down Economics" and its end results. And then a complete change of subject. Average pension plan in USA is 80% coverage. Government insures them to a fairly high level.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 15 weeks ago

This is from consumer reports. Count on at least 80% of what's you are expecting. The other 20% is need to pay CEO's big bonuses. Even the organization that guarantees the pensions is in trouble. With state and fed debt at unmanageable levels I wouldn't be counting on that pension to much. Don't say I didn't warn you. I guess if your like Legend and are happy with $3,200 a month instead of $4,000 that you deserve just sit back and leave it up to your government to take care of it. Or get involved.

If you’re counting on a traditional defined-benefit pension, there’s reason to worry that you might not get everything you’ve earned. About 80 percent of the 29,000 private-sector defined-benefit plans insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have been underfunded by $740 billion. State and local public employee pensions were recently in a $1 trillion hole.

Instead of beefing up plan assets, many companies have cut benefits. Employers can change their pension rules going forward using a variety of tactics, including tinkering with benefit formulas so that your eventual payout will be reduced, “freezing” the plan to stop further accruals, or terminating an underfunded plan.

“Vested” pension assets—those that legally become your property after a period of time—are generally safe thanks to federal law. But if the plan is terminated, the PBGC, which itself is $26 billion in the red, is required to pay vested benefits only up to a certain amount, which varies by the employee’s age and the year in which the plan is terminated.

Pensions of government workers aren’t covered by the agency but are often protected by state constitutions or laws. Still, 26 states have squeezed benefits for new hires, some other workers, and retirees.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

How many fuckn " millions" does it really actually.. take to really actually live.. in the "lap of luxury"? Two? Three? Five?... Ten?!?...
Come on, lets be honest here!

It sure as fuckn hell doesn't take 1000 "millions"!!!
And for these "special" few..thats not even enough!
In fact, for most of them..there's never enough..
Hell... Any sane person knows it doesn't even take 100 "millions"...
Or even 10 "millions"...

And these special "gilded" few at the "apex"..
At the "pinnacle"..
Of all mankind.

Are in reality..

Nothing more than sociopaths!
With little or no empathy for their fellow humans!!
For all their smarts..
They truly have no concept, that we're ALL in this together..
We truly are one messed up (fucked up) animal!!!

NMeyer's picture
NMeyer 6 years 15 weeks ago

Thank you ... I hope this discussion continues to gain traction.

NMeyer's picture
NMeyer 6 years 15 weeks ago

Thank you Thom for the story and for including words from FDR.

I also appreciate Mr. Dodson's contribution in the comments.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 15 weeks ago

Just how much of Bezos bank account do jefflisse and Rick Steve feel they personally are entitled to take?

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

The Five Stages of Collapse
Dmitry Orlov

Financial Collapse. Faith in "business as usual" is lost.

Commercial Collapse. Faith that "the market shall provide" is lost.

Political Collapse. Faith that "the government will take care of you" is lost.

Social Collapse. Faith that "your people will take care of you" is lost.

Cultural Collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

The Five Rules of Propaganda
Norman Davies

Simplification: reducing all data to a single confrontation between ‘Good and Bad', ‘Friend and Foe'.

Disfiguration: discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies.

Transfusion: manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one's own ends.

Unanimity: presenting one's viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star performers, by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion'.

Orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations.”

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

Rules of Disinformation
via Proparanoid

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Become incredulous and indignant

Create rumor mongers

Use a straw man

Sidetrack opponents with name calling, ridicule

Hit and Run

Question motives

Invoke authority

Play Dumb

Associate opponent charges with old news

Establish and rely upon fall-back positions

Enigmas have no solution

Alice in Wonderland Logic

Demand complete solutions

Fit the facts to alternate conclusions

Vanish evidence and witnesses

Change the subject

Emotionalize, antagonize, and goad

Ignore facts, demand impossible proofs

False evidence

Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor

Manufacture a new truth

Create bigger distractions

Silence critics


Remus's antidote: tell the truth as plainly as you can. Humor helps.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

What a surprise, fact free brainless post from Diane.

I certainly never said that I want any of Jeff Bezo's fortune. Do not put words in other people mouths Diane. Of his $124 billion he could afford $123 billion to the government and would still have more that he could spend in a lifetime. He is 54. Let's say he lived to 94. That 1 billion would give him $25000000 a year to spend.

Also he could afford to spread a few billion of that to his employees. You cannot take it with you.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago

Risk, Of Two Minds - There is nothing natural about the stability of the past 9 years. The bullish trends in risk assets are artificial constructs of central bank/state policies. As these policies are reduced or lose their effectiveness, the era of artificial stability is coming to a close. Market participants have become accustomed to an implicit entitlement: that investors / speculators will earn consistently positive returns on their capital, as central banks and governments have both the power and the mandate to "save" participants from losses and generate phantom wealth. This entitlement is ending, as the central banks'/states' power to maintain a permanent bull market in stocks and bonds is eroding.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

HC, you really should give credit to the sources that you cut and paste from. Otherwise we call it plagiarism.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago


source for #29 Of two minds

#27 Proparanoid

# 26 Norman Davies

and Remus's antidote:

as was posted with each comment

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

Hmm..I don't know legend. You really think Jeff Bezo could "survive" on only 25 "millions" a year?
"Chuckling" How dare you even suggest such a thing!
All the sacrifices he would have to make...
It would be cruel and inhumane...

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

In fact.. Hed probably just give up on all his endeavors...
Obviously there would no longer be any "incentive" for him to even try...

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

I did not count on interest or existing income either.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

Neo-Feudalism is Fascism plain and simple! ....and yes indeed if the Kochs get their constitutional convention, it's game over for the hope of ever restoring representative government. November will be the tipping point. What many fail to realize is that the Kochs are every bit as dangerous as Putin in their hatred of democracy. Sure we can all continue to pretend fascism is just a bombastic term being tossed around by antifascists like myself....well good fffnnn luck with that attitude.

Trump was installed by propaganda and election fraud. Putin played a large role in planting the Trump chaos bomb and thus turning our country into a house of cards. His nuclear bluff is welcomed by our military industrial spy complex...sure why the hell not, more job security for that sector, but with economic collapse closely to follow.

I have an idea in reply to Thom's comment about the impending constitutional convention. How about we rewrite the first amendment......congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of the morbidly rich.????

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

BTW: Blessing assault weapons could only happen in a society quickly spiralling out of control, and right into the hands of Fascists. Iron rods???? ,yeah right! The words of the bible are all ancient writings by self interested men. ...not a word there from God.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 15 weeks ago


Since you seem to see almost everyone as a fascist....what do you consider yourself to be politicaly?

The bible written by men..states new rules after the coming of Jesus. Jesus said as written by men" love your neighbor as your self ". Don't see why that makes you so angry?

Are you a self interested person?

Do Greek writings make you angry?


Also everything we know about history was written by men.

Everything I know about you was written by you.

So far you seem as red with rage as your avatar.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

Yes, all the major religions were writen by "men".
Yes, all the religions are controlled by "men".
The "god" that most of us worship is supposedly a "him"...
Yes, almost all the governments were formed and are now controlled by "men".
Why is don't ever hear about the morbidly rich "women" in the world?
There must be a few? "Chuckling"

Lets face it..we're in world that's owned,controlled and run by morbidly rich"MEN"!
[With their "women" at their side..UNFORTUNATELY!!]

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 15 weeks ago


HotCoffee, I have questioned the same. Leftie hate radio is in full bloom but one interesting discovery while going way back through the archives here, their hatred and rage goes way back a very long time including the years they had a full control in the WH, house, and senate.

I have come to the conclusion there are some people that get their “happiness” by projecting their bitterness and discontent with literally everything regardless of who is in political power. Their mission is to suck the life out of any room they enter and you will see the same negativity when they are successful in a future election cycle. All sides gloat when they win, but these malcontents tend to thrive on complaining.

Think about the fact that all radio talking bobbleheads never base their shows on positives so what is to be expected from those with a tendency to be malleable and slightly off bubble? Hence……

Ref. ME

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

Reynolds #39

Hmm...lets see. Right wing talk radio listeners aren't "malleable and slightly off bubble"?!!
Yeah right! Your only going to convince yourself of that one!!

The happy, positive, uplifting, caring, and truthful messages of...
Dana Loesh
Mark Belling
Laura Ingrahmm
Sean Hannity
Glenn Beck
Dennis Prager
Michael Savage
And last but not least...
Lets not forget the most positive and morally uplifting of them all..
The Rush Limbaugh.. himself!!
[And lm sure l forgot a few others..]

There's no " hatred" or "rage" in this group..
No "bitterness" or " negativity"...
Absolutely not!!

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

#39. Another factless Foxmerized opinion post by Diane and totally off base.

There is a huge right wing conspiracy to buy up all of the radio stations and put left wing hate radio fomats on them.

gumball's picture
gumball 6 years 15 weeks ago

You missed the point. The point is that billionaires do not get to that level from income. They get there from the rise in the value of an asset. In the case of Bezos it is the rise in value of Amazon.

When Thom suggests that we should not "allow" them to become wealthy, what does that mean? Should we nationalize the companies they created? Should we force them to sell their companies and take the proceeds?

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 15 weeks ago

@#40 Go back and re-read my post. Here, I will highlight part of it in bold to make it easy for you,

“Think about the fact that all radio talking bobbleheads never base their shows on positives so what is to be expected from those with a tendency to be malleable and slightly off bubble? Hence……

Ref. me

@#41 Rick Steve, If anybody actually listened to leftie/socialist radio stations they would be very profitable. Owners, regardless of political views, live for profit $$$$. You do the math. Oh God, I forgot and used the leftie/socialist's most hated word "profit" and that brings to topic other peoples money which will wind you up even tighter.

Ref. Me



He would deny it but in my opinion, Thom is a full on closet communist.

Huge democrat party supporter, Jeff BezosIs the number-one shareholder in Amazon, with approximately 78.89 million shares as of March 2018. Someday Rick Steve may grasp the difference between asset and stock holdings vs. cash in hand.

Ref. Me & Wall Street

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

What a waste of my time, but here goes....Coffee, your impression that "I see almost everyone as a Fascist" and that I'm angry, are your words, and distorted opinion, which has nothing to do with the reality of my expression. I'm a patriot who wants what our founders and enlightenment thinkers intended.

Why don't you just express your feelings for Putin and the Kochs instead of attacking my view. Respond with something that confirms your beliefs so we all understand your true motives.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 15 weeks ago

Reynolds...ditto...give us all and example of leftie hate radio and while your at it, give us an example of alt right love radio.

When the sht hits the fan you'll finally realize what many of us have been warning you about.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

Fact is, Diane. And I Know that you do not like facts. Is the largest right wing radio conglomerate is about to go belly up. But they prefer to broadcast the right wing hate radio.

Legend 6 years 15 weeks ago

From Wikipedia:

Executive compensation or executive pay is composed of the financial compensation and other non-financial awards received by an executive from their firm for their service to the organization. It is typically a mixture of salary, bonuses, shares of or call options on the company stock, benefits, and perquisites, ideally configured to take into account government regulations, tax law, the desires of the organization and the executive, and rewards for performance.[1]

The three decades starting with the 1980s saw a dramatic rise in executive pay relative to that of an average worker's wage in the United States,[2] and to a lesser extent in a number of other countries. Observers differ as to whether this rise is a natural and beneficial result of competition for scarce business talent that can add greatly to stockholder value in large companies, or a socially harmful phenomenon brought about by social and political changes that have given executives greater control over their own pay.[3][4] Recent studies have indicated that executive compensation should be better aligned with social goals[5] (e.g. public health goals [6]). Executive pay is an important part of corporate governance, and is often determined by a company's board of directors.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 15 weeks ago

Rick Steve sez,#46

"Fact is, Diane. And I Know that you do not like facts. Is the largest right wing radio conglomerate is about to go belly up."

Great, I have heard all that before but if it does, then will you shut your piehole or will you still live your life in a hive of bitterness and jealousy?

Worn out door knobs's picture
Worn out door knobs 6 years 15 weeks ago

It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows. The company's 1986 initial public offering (IPO), and subsequent rise in its share price, created three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionaires among Microsoft employees.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 15 weeks ago

Reynolds #43
Talking out of your ass again!

Progressive talk radio not profitable.. "Bullshit!

For an example: 92.1 "the mic" out of Madison WI.
Fact: One of the most profitable and the highest rated progressive talk radio station in the nation.
Fact: Shut down on Nov 9th. 2016 by iHeart communications. The giant media conglomerate that owns the station.
Fact: Was shut down for ideological and political reasons...NOT LACK OF PROFITABILITY!!!

The website Radio Insight said The Mic pulled a 2.1 share in the summer 2016 Nielsen Audio ratings, the highest share in liberal talk radio in the U.S. registered by Nielsen.

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