The Occupy Wall Streeters should put down their copies of Das Kapital and pick up this year’s Forbes 400 [Reader Post]


Back in 2000 or 2001 I read a piece in Newsweek or TIME that discussed flyers whining that they didn’t have enough storage space in the overhead compartment bins on airplanes. I remember writing a letter to the editor saying that the only reason that people had the luxury of being able to whine about such things was that flying had become so safe that flyers could shift their focus to the more mundane. Then of course September 11th came along and people started focusing on the basic reason planes exist… to get them from point A to point B in one piece.

The Occupy Wall Streeters are just like the people whining about the overhead compartments. These are the people who enjoy the fruits of the capitalist system in which they live – iPhones, Starbucks, Facebook, Twitter, Twinkies, Nikes, ATMs, MSNBC, not to mention adequate food, shelter, and transportation, yet want to destroy that very system. They vote for economic dolts in the Democrat party like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama and then blame capitalism when they screw it up.

Not only do they have no clarity about what they want, but they are wrong about most of those claims they are making. Bankers may be SOBs, but they didn’t cause the financial meltdown, Congress did. Their college loans are so heavy because government drove up college costs faster even than the rise in health care costs, not because of the 1%. The fact that with degrees in hand they can’t find jobs is because of government regulation and tax policy, not because of big corporations.

These people could benefit from putting down their copy of Das Kapital and ask their local banker for his copy of the Forbes 400.

The annual Forbes 400 issue lists the 400 richest people in the United States, the uber 1-percenters if you will. Just to make it on the list this year you had to have a net worth of slightly over $1 billion. Strangely, this list of the most hated of the really hated 1%, includes stars in the Democratic constellation like George Soros sitting at number 7 with a net worth of $22 billion and Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Larry Page sitting at positions 14-16. Oh, and of course there’s also Mr. Solyndra, George Kaiser, at # 31 with $10 billion and President Clinton’s buddy, Ron Burkle, at 107 with his $3.2 billion.

When you hear the Occupiers talk about the 1%, it brings to mind a banker or industrialist sitting in his office gleefully writing pink slips just before Christmas so that he can improve the bottom line and buy another Gulfstream with his bonus money. Of course at the same time he’ll find some loopholes through which he can avoid paying any taxes on the bonus he earned for firing all of those workers. As he walks to the limousine that takes him to his Connecticut estate each night, he doesn’t even deign to make eye contact with the passing workers upon whose backs his fortune was made, at least the part that wasn’t left to him by his father and grandfather.

It’s of course possible that that caricature could be found amongst the people who make up the Forbes 400. That, however, is not the story of the list. What is the single most important thing about the list? The fact that 278 of them are self made. Think about that. While you’ll still find a Rockefeller and a Ford on the list, 70% of the richest of the rich in the United States are self made. That doesn’t mean that all of them were born into poverty like Oprah Winfrey or started selling shoes out of the trunk of their cars like Phil Knight, but 278 of the 400 started out in families that would never have made it anywhere near this list.

And the question is, how did those people make their money? Did they steal it from hard working Americans in some dark alley somewhere? No. Did they set up a high tech printing press and start forging bearer bonds? No. Did they use the police power of the state to jail competitors and take their money? No. Most of those people made their money the old fashioned American way, they earned it. They figured out how to provide a good or service to Americans and people around the world at a price they were willing to exchange their money for.

Obviously, if you listen to the Occupiers, all of those services must have been in banking, where the little guy has no alternative but to put their money in Wall Street banks. Not quite true. While 95 of the 400 made their fortunes in finance of one sort or another, there is a wide spectrum of other areas from which the fortunes came…

  • 17 made their money in manufacturing… like Jim David of New Balance Shoes, a company that manufactures 25% of their shoes in the United States.
  • 27 made their money in real estate… Like Bradley Hughes who built Public Storage into a $19 billion behemoth from a single self storage facility.
  • 30 made their money in food and beverage… like Truett Cathy, who started Chic-Fil-A with one restaurant after getting out of the Army in 1946.
  • 24 made their money in retail… like Bernie Marcus & Arthur Blank who started Home Depot (a company that employs 190,000 people) after getting fired for disagreeing with their boss at Handy Dan.
  • 40 made their money in energy… like Harold Hamm of Continental Resources who started off pumping gas and working on cars.
  • Then of course there are the 49 who made their money in technology… like Zuckerberg, Moskovitz and Saverin of Facebook or Scott Cook who created Quicken after his wife complained about balancing the checkbook.

The members of the Forbes 400 made their fortunes by giving consumers, businesses and governments goods or services they were willing, if not happy, to pay for. They delivered food to stores and pizza to homes, they made shoes, software and toys, they built roads, bridges and buildings, and they entertained with movies, music and video games. And the funny thing about those 400 people is that they are only a fraction of the entrepreneurs and businesspeople in the United States who are providing those services. There are 22 million small businesses in the United States headed by people who are trying to become successful enough to make that exclusive club, and virtually every one of them understands that the way to get there is to provide customers with sufficient value to convince them to willingly exchange their hard earned dollars for their particular good or service.

The existence of guys like Bernie Madoff, Dennis Kozlowski or Kenneth Lay in no way diminishes the benefits that Americans (and people around the world) have enjoyed as a result of the efforts of the people in the Forbes 400 or the hated 1%. They may have been thieves and con artists, but none of them did a fraction of the damage done by Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick or Chris Dodd.

The question of the day is, would you rather have unaccountable bureaucrats and politicians using the police power of the government to decide the fate of the economy or would you rather let companies and entrepreneurs compete for your interest and money in a free market? While the Occupiers and their union and Democrat comrades would prefer the former, I’d take the latter 10 times out of 10. Things might not work perfectly, but they’d certainly work far better than if they were run by government apparatchiks.

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Many people have pointed out that these occupiers ought to be angry at Wasington DC and their universities, not Wall Street.
Student loans account for more debt than consumer credit card debt!
($1 trillion compared with $800 billion)
Like that broken window fallacy, any money taken out of the economy to pay for tuition is money that cannot be spent on clothing, food or furniture.
And, as the government has eased getting student loans, the universities have raised the tuition fees far faster than inflation…..or anything else.
Banks are also hurt by student loans which only pay between 3 and 4% interest.
Free up $1 trillion at 3 or 4% interest and banks could loan to businesses and consumers at a much higher rate!

Bottom line?
Yes, OWSers should use all their time sitting around to educate themselves.
It would teach them so much more than a revisionist history professor in some liberal PC U ever could.

The desire for profit is a highly constructive motivation, until it becomes the only motivation. When capitalism doesn’t exist within some restricting moral framework, it turns evil. It has no internal moral standard.

Interesting platitude, Greg… but rather worthless unless you intend to apply it to everyone that profits in some way. But then, if a business doesn’t profit, they cease to exist.

But it’s telling that any one who makes a profit now must fit within your personal moral compass, or forever be branded “evil”.

Anyone not equipped with a personal moral compass is in danger of becoming lost.

I see a clear moral difference between R.J. Reynolds and Nike. I imagine that you do also.

very interesting, yes the owls should read more about the makers of WEALTH
then they would find more GOOD RICH then the one who are abusing .THE system which get finaly caught and go to jail, but even those abusers are followed by the greedy poor or other class ending in the company employee with bullied actions that help any company to finaly self implode and being accuse because of their failiure to apply rIgorus discipline into their employees which are the one turning the wheel while the head is into trip oversea or absent most of the time failing to delegate to the right people,
those deserve to fall and they do, but the real conciencious RICH are needed to stay in the ECONOMY WHICH THE OTHER LIVE FROM, and they know it to keep a sound mind and know to give jobs as much as they can provide to the right employees not to not interested employees bound by other protection
ENTITY who collect from the labor force pretending to help their jobs, just to weaken production excellence in the market therefor helping only to destroy the jobs and the moral of the workers by rendering them the devalue sense of the work in the COMPANY which , BECOME THE ENNEMY OF THE WORKFORCE THEY ARE PAYING WITH THEIR OWN POCKET, BUT NOT BEING RECONNISE AS THE REAL BOSS, THE ONE WHICH THE WORKER SHOULD BE THANKFULL FOR EARNING A LIVING,

“Self Made” is a misnomer. It just means they didn’t specifically inherit it. It does not mean that they didn’t come from good backgrounds, nor does it mean that they didn’t see to create monopolies wherever they could, or buy or force their competitors out of existence, or take others technology to make their products.

It also does not adequately address globalization where companies can take advantage of lax laws here, and shift around assets and workers with other countries, or people who got rich from new technology, which is always going to happen (even Ford had to start somewhere) or people who move money around as now we have so much of our economy focused on “financial products” that may or may not have substance.

I’d say that picking up “Forbes 400” would not do much for them, unless the 1% likes to gloat, which now that you mention it… I’d suggest we need to have an open mind for all systems on the table, not bring up old Red Scare propaganda and pretend like our system isn’t broken.

yes, that’s why GOVERNMENT fail to create a moral over the NATION, that you blame yourself before blaming the other, some who fail to create that climate of pride for ones achivement,
instead of DIVIDING THE NATION, by promoting hate and envy and greed enphasise far enough to have those dmonstrations all over from a crowd which they cannot contained, because they have incited enough hate among the people, that they created a monster of destructive power unleach and dangerous for the workers, dangerous for the peacefull citizens ,they the democrats and friends lost the power to be listen to, because of their numerous lies. they also freaked up the honest job creators of this NATION,

I’m sure there are those who would say,” but these were just a tiny minority…..” however I am still going to tell the tale of business costs to those who are ALSO part of the 99%.

A restaurant directly across from Zuccotti Park claims its staff is being terrorized by the protesters.
The New York Post reports that Stacey Tzortzatos, owner of Panini & Co. Breads

claims she has been repeatedly harassed and threatened with bodily harm by protesters after she and her employees refused to give in to their outlandish demands.

The difficulties began when Tzortzatos decreed that her sandwich shop’s restrooms were not a public bath. Tensions escalated when demonstrators broke a bathroom sink, flooding the shop, and clogged the toilet. After having to fork over $3,000 to cover the costs of repair, Tzortzatos hung a sign indicating that the restroom was out of order, but protesters tore the sign down.

She is quoted by the Post as saying:

I have the police in here 10 times a day, [and] I’m the bouncer. I’ve been called the spawn of the devil. It’s unbelievable what goes on in here every day.

When the restaurant is closed, protesters use the façade as a bathroom. When it is open, they demand electric power to run their laptops. Says Tzortzatos, “They unplugged my ATM machine and plugged in their computers.”

Some have threatened to boycott the store for refusing to acquiesce to their demands, which last Friday included filling a 10-gallon container with water. When an employee refused, the individual who had brought in the container (described as a “crazed squatter”) began banging the container on the ground and screaming.

No comments on yesterday’s elections eh? Nice deflection. Great to see the voters wake up and give a resounding NO to the draconian and crazy polices of the GOP . Way to go Ohio and Mississippi! Walker is next. Go OWS! Obama 2012!



Obama blames his framing of issues for why they don’t get popular support.

In the case of the Ohio public union employee situation I really think the Republicans failed in correctly framing the issue.
They incorrectly framed it as an ”either/or” situation whereby public union employee pensions
Either Had to be Cut
OR Taxes will have to rise forever.

Those were NOT the only two situations that could solve the problem.

The pension numbers are not improved by this ”victory” for the unions.
So, now we will see the OTHER solution to the problem:
Taxpayers and the people of Ohio will still pay the taxes they had been paying for the services they used to get BUT the services will not be forthcoming as they were in the past.

Just as the lifeguards’ union pensions in Orange County, CA finally cost so much that the County can no longer afford to hire any actual lifeguards, so, too, in Ohio.
In one area of public works after another LESS will be delivered for the taxes paid.
All the rest will get eaten up in pensions and benefits for retired state union employees.
Basically, the can has been kicked down the road a bit further.

Nan G.
that’s what happen when the STATES allow the bullies to push too far,
they are weaker because of their failiure to cut earlier, when they still had the authority to do so from the people.
now they have been let down by the same people who will be so surprise to find the door lock on them because of no more funds to pay their jobs and pensions, even if they demolish everything to get it back,
half a loaf of bread is better than none

The Occupy movement has jumped the shark.
Tuberculosis Has Broken Out At Occupy Atlanta’s Base

This isn’t the old TB.
This is the drug-resistant new version of the disease.

TB is contagious through the AIR!
One does not need sex or shared needles, dirty water or shared food to catch it.
Once you catch this version our Public Health officials have to keep watch on you for YEARS just to make sure you take your meds.
I would wager that the entire encampment hasn’t collected enough in donations to cover the treatment for even one of those already shown to have this disease in the encampment.

The poor of decades ago entered the middle class, now there are new poor. Immigrants mostly — and some of the old poor, those the “War on Poverty” was supposed to help — but kept them poor.

And then those who were rich decades ago have been stripped of their wealth — such that nearly all the new rich are newly so.

Meanwhile, the Republican and Democratic Parties are crony capitalists with different cronies.

And the only solution, as I see it — is for the rational 70% of us — with 15% diehard lefties and 15% diehard fundamentalists — to vote for some third party — oh, say the Libertarians — which, while a bit fringe, are also the only other party to be on all 50 state ballots.

It’s time for us 70% rational to abandon the Democrats and Republicans, take over the Libertarian party and its ballot access and get rid of the two fringes — of which, of late, there’s not much difference.

And while I don’t see this happening anytime soon, it’s got to happen. While this president is almost assuredly a one term president — the RINO next in line, Romney, is merely Obama-lite — and also a one term president.

And until us rational 70% start to realize this – and stop trying to join the “two” sides — which are so similar it’s scary — we shall be faced with one term presidents for the next several terms. And while that is not exactly a bad thing — it doesn’t bode well for solving the systemic problems.

Let’s hope we all don’t go completely broke before this time arrives in oh, 10 to 20 years.

But there is no longer any hope of discussing this with the “two” “opposing” sides. One is sure the rich are the problem, and the GOP, poor fools they are, are worried about us sissies — and we have nothing to do with it as sissies, but only if we adhere to either the “two sides” or the 70%. Man, do I fret for this nation. Thank heaven’s I have no kids who I would have to fret even more for; I feel sorry for those of you with kids — for they’ll be the ones screwed no matter which of the “two” get in office.

But one thing for certain — no matter what happens — you’ll still have gay folks to contend with — and I marvel at this, I truly do — and I’m no longer able to respond in brief ways — for it is too complex. Oh well, it was a great country while it lasted. I hope it lasts till the end of my life, oh, another 30 years.

Jim Hlavac
we must elect CONSERVATIVES, this is the only hope to save AMERICA,
THE laws of the CONSTITUTION WILL PREVAILED, and no one will succeed in bending the necks of the AMERICANS no matter their attacks, it’s temporary, they are being watch carefully and soon will they be surprise to see the POWER OF AMERICA WHICH WILL RISE UP IN ONE VOICE TO RECLAIM THEIR STOLEN POSSESSION, WHICH IS PRIDE AND HONOR ,AS IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE BEGINNING

The dislike to like ratio on post #4 is very revealing, to my thinking. Unless I’m missing something, it clearly suggests that some believe the morality or immorality of any legal enterprise is entirely secondary to profit.

This would explain a lot.


Perhaps you are misreading people, Greg.
It seems more likely to me that you are being dinged for your hasty generalization that business MUST either be totally un-materialistic OR totally evil.
Your comment #2 makes that fallacious stand, then you keep trying to shove it down people’s throats.
You comments are unrealistic in regard business practices and what they are based on.

When I did private investigative work inside large businesses (corporations) I usually was looking for a white collar criminal.
Often I would be privately told about which people the company was ”carrying” out of loyalty and compassion.
THEY were not to be targeted by my investigations.
No matter how many days they left early, came in late, took long breaks, and otherwise ate into the profit margins of the business.
Some had suffered kidney failure, cancer or had a wife with cancer, a daughter with an aneurism, a son paralyzed in a sports injury and so on.
Company after company carries many employees like these.
Does it show on their bottom line?
I bet it cuts into their profits quite a bit.
Do you, or the occupiers, see all of this?
Probably not.

Nan G.
wow, another good argument coming from you,
hey, GREG SHOULD SAY; geez, I never thought of it that way, DUH
yet it’s so true, but the COMPANIES ARE NOT LIKE THE OWL,
DO IT AS A NORMALITY, that it is the right thing to do for the faithefull employees giving so much,
SO the COMPANY GIVE BACK WHEN THE NEED IS REQUIRED, although they don’t shout about the lost of profit, they are giving back to the people this way not counting other goodies they provide