Dan Smith: Billionaires on Forbes list worth a look

Mar. 11, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

Raise your hand if you made Forbes list of 1,426 billionaires for 2013. Yeah, I know, me neither.

As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even close. There are 16 percent more people on the list over last year. Why is it that more people are becoming billionaires when the economy is so weak? I’ll bet there are more people going poor than becoming billionaires.

I’m not even a millionaire yet. Unless I win the lottery. That probably won’t happen either. Of course it’s not the goal too many people to become one, but rather to just work to make ends meet.

I live comfortably. That’s the way most people in developed countries live. Of course, in Third-World countries, they live each day just to gather food to survive. We have the luxury of having play time and lots of recreation, in America and most go to the grocery store for food.

I’m not going to list all 1,426 billionaires, but will note a few.

The world’s richest man for the fourth year in a row, Carlos Slim,  lives in Mexico. Slim added $4 billion to his coffers since last year to make it a cool $73 billion. Warren Buffett has dropped out of the top three since 2000, and is now No. 4 with $53.5 billion. Please don’t feel sorry for Mr. Buffett, he still added $9.5 billion to his bank account.

Bill Gates is still second with $67 billion. That third spot now belongs to Amancio Ortega, a Spanish clothier, with $57 billion.

By the way, none of these guys put their pants on one leg at a time like we do. They either have someone help them get them on, or they have a machine to do it for them. They are just too rich to dress like we do.

The U.S. has the most billionaires in the world with 442. Next is the Asian-Pacific region, and Europe is third. The total net worth of all the billionaires is $4.6 trillion.

If you took all the money from all the billionaires, it would still only be about one-fourth of our national debt. So you see, if you raise the taxes on the wealthiest people in our country, you would still fall way short of paying off our debt. The problem is, we keep spending, which nullifies the payoff.

Do we have any billionaires close by? I’m glad you asked. Up in Knoxville, Jimmy Haslam made the list. He is No. 831 with around $1.8 billion. He recently bought the NFL Cleveland Browns. He is the CEO of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. By the way, his brother is the governor of Tennessee.

Other Tennessee billionaires include Martha Ingram and her family. She is a book distributor where bookstores like Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, Walmart and others buy her books for the general public. She is also in to transportation. She is worth $2.9 billion.

There is also Fred Smith of FedEx Corp. coming in at $2.1 billion. Let’s not forget tobacco businessman Brad Kelly with $1.9 billion.

Can you become a billionaire without working for it? Yes, you can inherit it. Lily Safra, now 75, made Forbes list at No. 1175 with $1.2 billion. She lives in Monaco and got her money from her deceased husband, who was in the banking business. She is the third wealthiest person in Monaco. To show her heart was in the right place, she held an auction of her jewelry for three dozen charities and raised $38 million.

There are many more who had it given to them, including the heirs of Sam Walton of Walmart fame. The rest of the list are people I don’t even know.  Of course the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, made the list. I always thought it strange for someone with that amount of money to want to be mayor.

Where do our billionaires live in this country? Usually near or on the coast. From Philadelphia to Hawaii and back to Bridgeport/Stamford, Conn. Actaully they could live wherever they wanted, right?

I’ll close with giving you three billionaires who quit college: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.

If you make it to billionaire status, don’t forget me!

— Dan M. Smith is a Cincinnati native and Gatlinburg resident. He is the author of two novels. His son is serving in the Air Force. E-mail to dan0729@yahoo.com.