Archive for November, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street crowd is directing their anger at the 1%.   President Obama repeats a mantra that all he is asking is for the Wealthiest 1% to simply do their “fair share”.  Who are these 1%?   To put names with the 1% tag line, I perused Forbes list of the Wealthiest 300 Americans.  Below is a list of a few of them, and included in the list is the source of their wealth creation.  I am struck by two major themes:

1.     In most cases, the wealth is “first generation”, meaning these individuals created their wealth from humble beginnings.  They didn’t inherit businesses or family wealth.   America remains a land where average Americans can achieve wealth beyond their wildest imaginations.

2.     The contributions to society that resulted from these individuals are monumental.   They are doing more than their “fair share” to improve lives of countless people across the globe.   Given the effect their wealth creation is having on society, would transferring a higher portion of their wealth to government result in a better outcome?

Examples of 1st generation wealth who made enormous contributions to society:

#1 Bill Gates, #23 Paul Allen , and #19 Steve Ballmer of Microsoft

#2 Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway

#3 Larry Ellison of Oracle

#12 Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg (a Financial Service IT platform)

#13 Jeff Bezos of Amazon

#14 Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook

#15 Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google

#18 Michael Dell of Dell

#24 Phil Knight of Nike

#327Rupert Murdoch Media

#39 Phil Anschutz of Railroad and Telecom fame

#49 Steve Jobs Apple

#34 Charles Ergor EchoStar

#48 Leonard Alan Lauder of Estee Lauder

#52 Ralph Lauren Fashion

#69 John Malone, the king of Cable TV networks

#107 George Lucas of Star Wars fame

#117 Steven Spielberg of Hollywood fame

#139 Oprah Winfrey

#212 Ted Turner, creator of CNN and other CATV brands

I picked these examples because of the names of the individuals or their companies are recognizable.    Others on the list made their money through retail (e.g., several Walmart family members are on list), hotels (e.g., Marriott), real estate (e.g., Trump), casinos, oil, candy, supermarkets, media, hedge fund investing, and even the rental car business.  We should admire the people on this list, especially the ones whose ideas are bettering society.  We should be proud we live in a society that produces so many self-made billionaires.

Whether a Republican or a Democrat; a conservative, moderate, or liberal; a black or a white; or a descendent of Europe, Asia, or Africa, we can rally around the following aspirations:

We aspire that America be the most prosperous nation on earth, with this prosperity should find its way to every nook and cranny of our society.

We aspire that our education system be second to none, and this excellent education system be available to all Americans regardless of socio-economic circumstance.

We aspire that our government be a strong partner to business, with a political process that continuously strengthens our economic system.

We aspire that America be a land where the middle class is vibrant, and a land where those who have not yet joined the middle class know they can get there.   We aspire that Americans who want jobs are able to find them, and those who are willing to work hard to get ahead will have opportunities to do so.

We aspire America be a land where a smart, honest, and hard working person can become wealthy regardless of the circumstance in which they were born.   We aspire that these success stories are celebrated by their fellow Americans, because the advancements sparked by these entrepreneurs create opportunities and a better life for countless others.   Think Steve Jobs of Apple, Howard Schulz of Starbucks, Phil Knight of Nike, Larry Page of Google,  Stephen Spielberg,  and Oprah Winfrey.   We aspire that the American society is such that these gifted Americans use their wealth to help others, just as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates so admirably demonstrate.

We aspire America be a society that provides a safety net for those who struggle to take care of themselves.   We aspire that America provides food, shelter, healthcare, and a comfortable, respectful life be available to these Americans..  We aspire that our society progresses such that fewer and fewer people need these safety nets, and more and more of our people take care of themselves.

We aspire America to be a land that welcomes immigrants and provides them an opportunity to prosper.  We aspire that America’s immigration policies make us a stronger and better nation, and are a benefit of all that live in our land.

Perhaps most importantly, we aspire that the prosperity of America inspires societies throughout the world to be founded on human rights, equality, and freedom.

These are aspirations that we all, I believe, can rally around.  These are America’s Aspirations.