Video: Open Letter To 85 Richest People On The Planet

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Responding to the Oxfam report that concluded that the world’s 85 richest people own the same amount as the bottom half of the entire global population, self appointed spokesperson for the global elite, and celebrity Judge on the reality show The Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary,applauded the news, stating that is  “fantastic news (…) the motivation everybody needs (…) it inspires everyone to want to be like the 1%” and scoffing at the idea of “re-distribution of wealth” stated, “ I celebrate Capitalism.”

His remarks inspire this open letter to the 85 Richest People In The World.


Dear 85 Richest People In The World,

Thank you for your time.

I’m well aware that time, in your world, is money. Given that one member of your peer group, Warren Buffett, made $37 million per day in 2013, breaking down to a mind blowing $1.5 million an hour, I image the value of the 5 minutes or so you are granting me now, depending on where you rank in your elite group of 85, is somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000.

So thank you. It means a lot.

We know that some of Mr. Buffett’s public statement’s show the possibility for a worldview, even among the rarefied air of your little 85 club, can be a little more compassionate and nuanced that the remarks of Mr. O’Leary.

In the interest of time, I’ll respond to Mr. O’Leary’s outlandish remarks in three broad areas: equity, sustainability, and wealth redistribution.

WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION

Mr. O’Leary dismisses the notion of wealth redistribution. Here in the United States, we live in one of the most unequal countries in the world, when measured in terms of wealth inequity. Are we to believe that this well documented and growing wealth divide is a random force of nature? A statistical glitch? Because you deserve it? Or is it possible, that billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller had it right in a television interview called the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program:

“[T]he biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever. … I mean, maybe this trickle-down monetary policy that gives money to billionaires and hopefully we go spend it is going to work. But it hasn’t worked for five years.”

Given this, help me understand how the global elite differs from pirates?

EQUITY

Kevin O’Leary sells us the lie that if we all just fight hard to get up to the top, we could be in your little club. Is it really your opinion that you all really work harder than the rest of us in a manner quantifiable to the skewed amount of wealth you have amassed? Can Mark Zuckerberg, or Sergei Brin any one of the Walton’s work much harder than an 11 year old kid who work 14 hour shifts in some rat infested tin shed of a factory in Bangladesh making the clothes that find their way onto the backs of every 11 year old American kid who wants to grow up to be the next Zuckerberg? You clearly cannot answer yes in good conscience. The system that requires millions of poor people working 70 hours a week to feed the fire of constant economic growth is, for this reason and scores more, not only unfair, but morally unjustifiable.

SUSTAINABILITY

The furnace that feeds the global Corporate capitalist system is also, I think you might have heard, heating up the planet. The human species, according to 98% of climate scientists are in dire straights. Imagine yourself strapped to a conveyor belt moving slowly towards a giant band saw, while the forces of darkness are shoving cyanide coated in fruit flavored mentos down your throat and chasing it with diet coke. You see, capitalism and carbon dioxide are a lot like mentos and diet coke. The main difference is that the latter gives you viral videos; the former is accelerating the extinction of the human species.

Fear not, you notorious 85, though you are now recognized for the pirates that you are, no one I know is demanding that you walk the plank. What we do demand, however, is a system that is sustainable, and equitable that does in fact re-distribute much of the wealth you have stolen from us.

I look forward to you response. You can reach me on twitter.

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  • Jo-Ann Gesterling

    He left out how those 85 people are accelerating climate disaster and forcing us to fight wars for people who justifiably hate us.

  • sam salamay

    Great video. Kevin O’Leary is the Boa of Snakes, always looking to “constrict” deals for his personal benefit. Watching him at work on TV tells the story of Capitalism, the scourge of our society. All “85″ should be recognized and mandated to “invest” 25% of their wealth to fund clean energy, clean water and clean food for the 3.5 billion…to sustain our people and our world.

  • Edward Moriarty

    Not so sure about Warren Buffett’s world view either. It was reported on network news (?news?)programs that Mr. Buffett along with one other member of the elite 85 were offering a $1,000,000,000.00 ( one billion dollar) prize to anyone who could pick the 64 NCAA basketball teams that will compete in the NCAA tournament and their position 1 thru 64 at the end of the tournament. Approximate odds of success one in one billion.
    Unless that was a sarcastic rebuttal to his peers ( I hope it was meant to be just that), it just shows the total disconnect of these Economic Royalists with the daily struggle for survival by the masses on this planet.

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  • Proudscalawag

    No one’s demanding they walk the plank? Listen a bit closer, everyone. And if nothing happens to correct things, those voices will grow in number and volume!

  • MikeRhys

    Nice video, but I believe everybody, all around, from Drukenmiller to whoever, are conflating the words “redistribution” and “distribution”.

    A worker’s co-op, or other employee-owned businesses, create equitable wealth distribution.

    A share-holder owned corporation creates inequitable wealth distribution.

    Acquiring wealth, and then redistributing that wealth to alternative priorities, as done by taxes and other similar methods, is wealth REdistribution.

    Lower interest rates increase the original MALdistribution of wealth to corporate shareholders only, rather than to society, or to the corporation, or to the community as a whole. Therefor, Drukenmiller’s comment, probably an off-the-cuff comment on live television, muddies an actual discussion of wealth distribution or wealth redistribution. Mr. Trainor bears more culpability though since his comments are written after well-considered time, and precisely because this in a discussion of wealth disparity.

    Framing initial distribution from a corporation as redistribution accepts a mischaracterization, an illusion, and avoids reforming the reality of corporate wealth distribution that favors owners and ignores, or swindles, employees. To address the creation of wealth disparity initial wealth distribution must be considered. While it is true that today, with ingrained wealth disparity, redistribution should be discussed and considered, these are two different, yet over-lapping, discussions. Precision in the use of the two different terms to describe the two different activities would be helpful.

    Regardless of whether the mischaracterization of share-holder owned corporate wealth distribution to the benefit of share-holders and to the detriment of workers is intentional is not relevant, but it is clearly harmful to having a constructive dialogue. Irregardless is not a word, and wealth re-distribution occurs after the initial distribution, which may or may not have been maldistributed to begin with.

    Deciding whether to discuss distribution or re-distribution is relevant to whether one conducts a meaningful dialogue or merely trolls for eyeballs and prints words that are “full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”