Billionaires don’t add up

I have encountered an article from the Daily Express and I don’t often link to them – this is, I’m fairly certain, a first – discussing Emma Barnett’s Radio 5 programme, in which the Labour MP for Brighton Kemp Town, Lloyd Russel-Moyle, suggested that there should not be any billionaires in Britain.

Shock, horror and incredulity seemed to follow from Emma Barnett, who was of the view that society needed their money for investment. The implication seemed to be that, without their money, there would be no – or much diminuished – investment.

This goes to show how deep the monetary misunderstanding goes. Money is limited so the rest of us must fall in line because the billionaire might grace us with some of his investment. This money stuff is still, in her mindset, trickling down from on high, from the rich to the poor. I fear she is still far from unusual.

When Russel-Moyle said that he wanted the country to work for ordinary people not for billionaires the implication seemed to be that he was really a Marxist or Trotskyist in disguise and that this was unremittingly revolutionary….

Yet, if we take the simple logic of being a billionaire, Emma Barnett’s incredulity seems well – incredible. There were according to the Evening Standard 134 billionaires in Britain in 2017 – and they should know – in that year they were still owned by one.

A billion is usually taken to be a thousand million (whereas stricly it should be a million, million) so, taking the lower figure, it is one followed by 9 zeros.

So if say, these billionaires are so clever they are paid £1000 a day and they are so hard-working and determined that they work 365 days a year and start from the age of ten, then they would get to be a billionaire by the time they were aged 2,750. So that would mean that today’s billionaires (most of them, it is true, are not in their first flush of youth) would all have had to have started on their earning careers well before the birth of Christ.

Even Emma Barnett must know they are not that old.

So logic dictates that they get their money from the rest of society – not through any special skill – but through inheritance, state assets corruptly privatised, market monopoly or intellectual property rights. Or a combination of all of these.

In short, billionaires indicate by their very existence that the market isn’t working. That democracy is deficient. That the economy is failing. That money is flowing upwards. And that billionaires aren’t working. They are never ‘wealth creators’ and always wealth extractors. They work to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of the rest of us.

That’s not Marxism or Trotskyism. It’s logic.

If we had somehow designed a system of water supply to deliver a few thousand times the normal quantity of water to just 100 odd domestic locations in the country we would probably consider carefully whether the original design was in fact, correct.

Why doesn’t Emma Barnett – or, indeed anyone else at the BBC – ever think similarly about the economy?


    1. Peter May -

      Agreed and thanks for the link, Charles.

      1. Peter May -

        And by the way I should, I think, also emphasise that never mind a market failure – every billionaire is a logical thinking failure….

  1. Andrew Dickie -

    “The implication seemed to be that, without their money, there would be no – or much diminished – investment.”

    I always remember the quote from my great friend, Canon Peter Challenge of the CCMJ (Christian Council for Monetary Justice) with which I’m associated.

    “To say that there’s not enough money for a government project is like saying there aren’t enough inches when they’re trying to measure something”

    Because, of course, in a fiat currency, money is just a measurement.

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