1,210 Billionaires!

Forbes magazine announced yesterday their list of the world's billionaires - a record number at 1,210 individuals.

The top ten are....


A billion, or 1,000,000,000 is such a large number that it is difficult to comprehend its scale relative to amounts that we mortals deal with on a daily basis. Achieving billionaire status offers the individual opportunities to do great good. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Establish your own Foundation to support microlending, the inspiration of Muhammad Yunus, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for developing a banking system for seed funding to the developing world. Given that the average microloan is $200, you could support 5,000 microgrants to build small businesses across the globe for $1 million - a mere 0.1% of $1 billion!

Join The Giving Pledge which currently 16 other billionaires have joined. The Giving Pledge states:

The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

{As they consider philanthropy, I humbly suggest that they include supporting public higher education...}

We need such gifted philanthropists now more than ever!

Back to that billion number. Dave Johnson published an eye opening Op-Ed in Truthout, "Nine Pictures of the Extreme Income/Wealth Gap."

Below are some excerpts: {The full article with photos is here.}

How Much Is A Billion?

Some Wall Street types (and others) make over a billion dollars a year - each year. How much is a billion dollars? How can you visualize an amount of money so high? Here is one way to think about it: The median income in the US is around $50,000, meaning half of us make less and half of us make more. If you make $50,000 a year, and don't spend a single penny of it, it will take you 20,000 years to save a billion dollars. . . . (Please come back and read the rest of this after you have recovered.)

What Do People Do With SO Much?

What do people do with all that money? Good question. After you own a stable of politicians who will cut your taxes, there are still a few more things you can buy. Let's see what $1 billion will buy.


This is a Maybach. Most people don't even know there is something called a Maybach. The one in the picture, the Landaulet model, costs $1 million. (Rush Limbaugh, who has 5 homes in Palm Beach, drives a cheaper Maybach 57 S -- but makes up for it by owning 6 of them.)

Your $1 billion will only buy you a thousand Maybach Landaulets.

Luxury Hotels


The Burj Al Arab in Dubai is seen at night. Expensive hotels, such as the Burj Al Arab, cost $20-$30,000 per night. (Photo: Cajie)

This is the Mardan Palace Hotel in Turkey, Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

Here is a photo gallery of some other expensive hotels, where people pay $20-30,000 per night. Yes, there are people who pay that much. Remember to send me a postcard!

A billion dollars will buy you a $20,000 room every night for 137 years.


Le Grand Bleu - $90 million.

Some people spend as much as $200 million or more on yachts.

You can buy ten $100 million yachts with a billion dollars.

Private Jets

Of course, there are private jets. There are approx. 15,000 private jets registered in the US according to NBAA. (Note: See the IPS High-Flyers study.)

This is a Gulfstream G550. You can pick one up for around $40 million, depending. Maybe $60 million top-of-the-line.

Your billion will buy you 25 of these.

Private Islands

If the rabble are getting you down you can always escape to a private island.

This one is going for only $24.5 million - castle included. You can only buy 40 of these with your billion.


This modest home (it actually is, for the neighborhood it is in) is offered right now at only about $8 million. I ride my bike past it on my regular exercise route, while I think about how the top tax rate used to be high enough to have good courts, schools & roads and counter the Soviet Union and we didn't even have deficits.

I ride there but that neighborhood is not like my neighborhood at all. While there is one family in that house, I live closer to the nearby soup kitchen that serves hundreds of families. One family in a huge estate and hundreds at a soup kitchen roughly matches the ratio of wealth concentration described below.

Here are a few nearby homes up for sale.

You can buy 125 houses like this one with your billion.

Luxury Items

Here is an article about ten watches that are more expensive than a Ferrari.

The one in this picture costs more than $5 million. You can buy 200 of these with your billion.

Medieval Castles

Just for fun, this is Derneburg Castle. Do you remember the big oil-price runup a few years ago that too the price of a gallon at the pump up towards $5? One speculator who helped make that happen got a huge bonus paid with government bailout money. He owns this castle. He has filled it with rare art. You can't go in and see any of the rare art.

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By THEPOORGUY (not verified) on 11 Mar 2011 #permalink