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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/26/13

Billionaires Are Dangerous to Humanity, Dangerous to the Earth

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It's been a while since I wrote an article on billionaires. I think about them almost every day, as I watch the news, as I go through cities like NY, Philly, DC and Chicago, so it's time for another article that brings some of my thoughts about them. 
-There are over 1400 billionaires identified on the planet, over 300 in the US. There are probably more who are purposely under the radar. 
-Billionaires are dangerous. There may be a small percentage who are good people with good intentions. That is not enough a reason to hold back from the calls by me, Thom Hartmann and others to make it illegal and impossible to be a billionaire. 
-billionaires are freaks of nature. In nature, giants are bizarre, freakish anomalies, and they don't survive long. Billionaires should be treated the same way. They are malignant symptoms of civilization. Before civilization, indigenous cultures would treat billionaires as hoarders who were insane. They'd even through them out of the tribe or force them to behave and share. For most of the millions of years humans and our predecessors have walked the earth, sharing-- what libertarians and right wingers call socialism-- was the way all living people lived. 
-No-one needs a forty or one hundred million dollar home. No private person needs to own a piece of art work that costs over one hundred million dollars. No-one needs a one or five hundred million dollar yacht, and there  is no business reason for owning one either.  When I see such displays of wealth, I am disgusted. We need to change our culture so that people who engage in such spending are treated the way people who wear fur are treated. We need to have street theater and messaging that tells the filthy rich that their spending is pornographic and despicable. Of course, we really need to change the unsustainable consumer culture that we have now. That's a bigger project, but part of what really needs to be done. 
That's a private yacht, not a cruise ship, at Charleston marina!
That's a private yacht, not a cruise ship, at Charleston marina!
(Image by sailn1)
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That's a private yacht, not a cruise ship, at Charleston marina! by sailn1

-Even the good billionaires have so much wealth and power they are dangerous. Some people think that it will take billionaires to save us. Ralph Nader wrote a novel based on that idea. I was excited about  Ebay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar's plans to develop a new news business with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. I still am. They are brilliant, courageous, heroic people. But we can't get into thinking that billionaires will save us. We must embrace the ideas of Paulo Freire-- that we need to wake up the oppressed and help them to help themselves. Billionaires won't do it for us-- not George Soros, not Pierre Omidyar or anyone else. 
The likelihood that a billionaire is a sociopath is higher than in the general population. But even if a billionaire is not a sociopath, the power a billionaire wields to affect other people is far too great. In addition, billionaires share their power with a lot of people. Those people are also dangerous. Neutering billionaires, by taking away their money, will also de-fang their hench-people. 
-A lot of billionaires are criminals who believe they are above the law. Glenn Greenwald wrote about in his book, Liberty and Justice for Some. When I interviewed him, he told me,
"... we've created this kind of  shield of immunity for elites, we have built up the world's largest prison system and one of the harshest and most merciless systems of punishment for ordinary Americans and this kind of two-tiered justice system where you receive total immunity if you are an elite and commit crimes but extremely harsh and merciless punishment If you are an ordinary American, is really the antithesis of what the rule law was intended to be."
That interview was in October 2011. Things have gotten worse. The billionaire trolls have crawled out from under their platinum plated rocks and, with the freeing effects of Citizens United, throwing around their money to influence elections. Some of them do it in highly visible ways, like casino billionaire, Sheldon Adelson (the guy is a despicable idiot, but his worth, over $27 billion, makes him even more dangerous.) Others, like the Koch brothers, build multi-layered organizations and shell operations to cast a veil over their predations and mechanations. 
Someone should develop an on-line database on every billionaire-- a database that looks at how they attempt to influence and that looks at their commercial and political interests. Since much of the billionaires operations are done THROUGH their many corporations, databases like  opencorporates.com are valuable. if you know of others, please share them in the comments. 
Forget about the two corporate parties-- Democrats or Republicans-- doing anything to get rid of billionaires. A head on clash is not going to work. 
We need to develop strategies that undermine and erode he ability of billionaires to become billionaires and to stay billionaires. Here are a few:
No More Dynasties: One early step should be a campaign to end American dynasties--- by putting very high taxes on inheritances, so the children of billionaires are not allowed to inherit any more than a fraction, say $25 or $50 million, no matter how big the estate. The details and loopholes would have to be very carefully attended to. This would have to include stock in companies founded by the parents. We don't want or need more Waltons or Pritzkers. 
Discourage Bigger Companies: One way companies get bigger is they acquire other companies-- to get access to technologies or markets, for example. 
The USS must invest in developing business models that provide alternate approaches, so smaller companies stay independent, so bigger companies don't swallow smaller companies. Jobs are lost when companies merge. Why not pass laws that recognize this and encourage other ways to enable big companies to work with smaller ones?
Track Billionaire's Money Better: If a company has more than 50 or 100 employees it is subject to different regulations than smaller companies. Why not apply the same approach to the most wealthy people, who are far  more likely to attempt to hide their money, their income and their assets to avoid taxes.  If you have more than $10 or $50 or $100 million in assets, you are required to declare and make transparent what you have and where you put it. 
Publicize broadly any lawsuits billionaires are involved in: Elites and plutocrats usually use their powerful connections to get out of trouble. They get judges to silence critics and seal cases. Make it a law that the wealthiest people do not get special treatment, and, on the contrary their cases cannot be sealed. 
Tax Corporations for paying outrageous sums to execs: Tax corporations for amounts equivalent to executive pay for any salary or other forms of remuneration, including tax options, etc., over the pay rate the president of the US gets-- $400,000 a year.   So, if a CEO earns ten million a year, the company must pay taxes of $9.5 million. There are too many big corporations that are giving huge salaries to execs and paying no taxes. If they can afford to pay big pay, they can afford to pay taxes. 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.

Check out his platform at RobKall.com

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, (more...)

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