The platinum-plated lives of the nation’s richest folks is gleaming even brighter despite the challenges of COVID-19, civil unrest and a contentious presidential election. The stock market is still on a roll — as are the entrepreneurs, tycoons and those with longstanding fortunes.
“Pandemic be damned: America’s 400 richest are worth a record $3.2 trillion, up $240 billion from a year ago, aided by a stock market that has defied the coronavirus,” says the annual “Forbes 400,” which ranks the nation’s richest people and was released this week.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, worth $179 billion, is No. 1 for the third year in a row, and his wealth has increased by 57% in the last year. Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($111 billion) is No. 2, followed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ($85 billion). Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet ($73.5 billion) and software guru Larry Ellison ($72.5 billion) round out the top five on the Forbes list, which requires candidates to have at least $2.5 billion in worth to qualify for the rarefied roster.
“Even in these trying times, mega-fortunes are still being minted. We welcome 18 new members to the ranks, who made their piles in everything from electric trucks to the now-ubiquitous Zoom. Plus there are 9 returnees — former 400 members who fell off the list and have made a comeback. Two from last year’s list died, and 25 dropped off as their fortunes fell; 10 of those setbacks were directly attributable to the Covid crisis,” the extensive Forbes analysis said.
The youngest person on the list is 30-year-old Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, with $11 billion.
There are 56 women who made the cut, and only 11 are “self made,” Forbes said. Alice Walton with $62.5 billion was No. 1 among those women, followed by MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Mr. Bezos, with $57 billion.
“The remarkable growth in fortunes of The Forbes 400 stands out at a time of pandemic-induced economic upheaval. Much of the wealth is highly concentrated. The top 21 richest on the list account for 42% of the total wealth,” said Kerry A. Dolan, assistant managing editor for wealth topics at Forbes.
And what of President Trump? He is currently ranked 339th on the list with a net worth of $2.5 billion.
NOT SO NOBLE HEADLINES
The news media was not exactly cordial about the news that President Trump had been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, this after brokering a peace deal in the Middle East, among other important things.
A few sample headlines which followed the announcement:
“Far-right Norwegian politician nominates Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize” (CBS News, Huffington Post, PBS); “Norway’s top anti-immigration crank nominates Trump for Nobel Peace Prize” (The Daily Beast); “Donald Trump nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by right-wing Norwegian MP” (Sydney Morning Herald); “Norwegian far-right MP nominates Donald Trump for Nobel Peace Prize” (The Guardian); and “Trump and his aides push idea he’s long overdue for Nobel Peace Prize” (Politico).
SOME VAPID QUESTIONS FOR BIDEN
The press appears to be protecting Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden with softball questions during his rare public appearances, according to McClatchy columnist Andrew Malcolm.
“Will Joe Biden ever face tough questions during this campaign?” he asks, noting that a majority of questions during Mr. Biden’s press conference this week “concerned Trump” rather than such pressing issues as taxes, Medicare or U.S. military matters.
“The questions didn’t focus on Biden’s claims, qualifications or proposals — all simply assumed to be good with no need for checking or verification. The main takeaway from the ‘news event’ was a real stunner — that Joe Biden is not Donald Trump,” writes Mr. Malcolm, who remains irked at journalists for their shallow approach.
“The event’s subliminal takeaway was that these members of the Fourth Estate, these self-appointed guardians of America’s presidential election process, are just fine with that. But should voters be?” he asks.
PRO-LIFE ENTHUSIASM SURGES
Many voters who oppose abortion know exactly who they will vote for. “Pro-life enthusiasm” is surging to guarantee President Trump is reelected, advises the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life group which has reached some 7 million voters in battleground states by mail, online and in person.
“The pro-life grassroots are more enthusiastic than ever before and eager to ensure President Trump and Vice President [Mike] Pence have another four years to continue their pro-life agenda,” says Mallory Quigley, spokeswoman for Women Speak Out PAC, the organization’s political action group.
“The Democratic Party’s support for abortion on-demand, paid for by taxpayers is extreme, wrong, and deeply unpopular — even among rank-and-file Democrats. Abortion extremism has been, and will continue to be, a loser at the ballot box.” Ms. Quigley says.
MARCH FOR LIFE IN FOCUS
Organizers for the annual March for Life will reveal the annual event’s 2021 theme Thursday during a virtual event, according to Jeanne Mancini, president of the organization.
Among those who will appear: Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life; Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican; Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City; Ryan Bomberger, founder of The Radiance Foundation; Christina Bennett, an activist with the National Black Pro-Life Coalition; and Jim Daly, president of Focus of the Family.
Register to see the webcast at Marchforlife.org; the event starts at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.
POLL DU JOUR
• 82% of U.S. adults say the coronavirus pandemic has changed their financial priorities.
• 45% are now checking their bank account more often.
• 36% are paying off debt, 33% are building an emergency fund.
• 32% are tracking their spending, 28% are sticking to a budget.
Source: A DepositAcounts / Qualtrics poll of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted July 24-26 and released Wednesday.
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