Weekly Letter to the President
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ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
October 11, 2019
Mr. President: There are numbers for everything these days, and as President
Trump makes clear often enough his favorite number is 1.
But then on the wealth number categories now developed by Bloomberg, he really
would not want to be assigned a 1 -- such a low number signals poverty. He doesn't
quite make a 10, but he can join his kind, like Silvio Berlusconi with similar passions,
at number 9.
Yes, each one of us has been assigned a number, even the residents of Congo or
Burundi, among the poorest in the world, who on average are 2. There are 1.5 billion
people in their bracket in which the lowest are a negative 2 and possess a net worth
of 10 cents; the highest have $100. Subsistence farmers mostly with a life of toil and
hardship and a net worth that can quickly turn negative with a change of luck or the
weather -- the sad losers by heritage in a world where Mr. Trump is a winner
according to himself, a son of a multimillionaire.
The next category with a net worth of $1000 is the median American renter -- sound
familiar to the young? Indeed college graduates are worse off when loans encumber
them to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars unless they went to an elite school --
then it can be a $100,000 plus. Across the world, each country presenting its own
unique problems, the category encompasses 1.7 billion people.
If you have $10,000 -- you hit category 4 and can apparently afford a new car.
Comprising 1.3 billion people in the world, it includes the median American family
headed by someone with no college education.
You want to go higher? Next are those with a net worth of $100,000. At number 5,
these folks can afford a mortgage. Isn't that just great ... now they are owned by the
bank. And if they happen to buy a house at the crest of a real estate boom, they will
soon have a mortgage larger than the worth of the house. Oops! It's back down to
minus 2. Just like the board game 'Snakes and Ladders', you just landed on a a
snake head. There are 436 million people in category 5, and excluding children, we
have now covered almost 5 billion people, that is almost (but not quite) everyone.
Category 6 is one million plus dollars, including Boris Johnson of the UK. It consists of
40 million people and generally the worst snobs. As Karl Marx sat brooding in the
British Museum Library, the bourgeoisie were the focus of his ire in a magnum opus
that caused much worry for them mostly in the twentieth century. No doubt he also
meant categories 7 through 11 that remain in this compilation.
Ten million dollars is the floor for category 7 which houses 1.7 million people globally.
'Houses' is the right word for these people go in for multiple houses.
Big charity projects generally named after themselves like university buildings or
professional schools usually go with a net worth of $100 million at least. That is
category 8 for a lucky 49,000 on our planet.
Category 9 is $1 billion and more (2700 in number); category 10 is $10 billion plus
(only 150); and category 11 is over $100 billion and consists of just two people.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates are in this stratosphere.
The 26 richest billionaires own as much as 3.8 billion people, the bottom half in the
world. That's capitalism.