Before condemning richest, check out your own lifestyle

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Perhaps we should be outraged by the Oxfam report that the six richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as the poorest half of the earth's population.

Outraged, but not surprised.

According to a 2014 World Bank study, while poverty is on the decline globally, two-thirds of the world's poorest people live in India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Those people survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Lest we condemn the six richest men -- you probably know who many of them are -- consider this comparison.

While the poorest people in the world are spending their buck and a quarter a day, Americans are spending $140 a day on average -- although 60 percent of us actually spend less than that.

On average, half of our spending goes toward transportation and housing.

And the rest?

That's where those rich guys come in.

Did you check your Facebook page or use its Messenger feature to video chat with your son in California?

You can thank Mark Zukerberg for that ability to communicate, and he's made $44.6 billion in the process.

Did you use your computer to look for information for work or your child's homework?

Bill Gates helped make that possible by his role in creating the home computer, and the Microsoft operating system that keeps the vast majority of them running. He's the world's richest man at last estimate, $75 billion.

And, Larry Ellison's Oracle company was probably somehow involved in your database search, and he's worth $43.6 billion, according to Forbe's Magazine annual estimate.

Use a prepaid cellphone? There's a good chance it's a Tracfone or Straight Talk provided by a company owned by Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu, worth $50 billion.

If you have a 401K invested in stocks, Michael Bloomberg's company probably provides guidance to your broker or fund manager, earning the former New York mayor $40 billion in the process.

Do you or your relatives work for the BNSF railroad? Do you read the World Herald, use Heinz ketchup, enjoy eating at Dairy Queen or use Duracell batteries? You can thank the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, with $60.8 billion and his Berkshire Hathaway parent company.

Any outrage against disparity of wealth should be tempered by the fact many of the billionaires, notably Gates, Buffett and Zuckerberg, are in the process of giving away their wealth to improve the lives of their less fortunate fellow human beings.

We suppose we could refuse to use and enjoy all the products and services that have improved our lives and made the six richest men as rich as they are, but that certainly wouldn't improve the lot of the poor in India or the Congo.

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