4 minute read

This week, Forbes magazine announced its annual list of the world’s billionaires, and Oklahoma is typically well represented on the list, with Tom and Judy Love of Love’s Country Stores topping the Oklahoma list at $10.8 billion. 

But while Oklahoma has its share of people enjoying life above the ninth digit, most of us living middle-class lives cannot fathom such numbers. 

At my household’s current income, it would take us 72,000 years to reach the Loves’ total worth. Somehow, no matter how hard we work and how assiduously we save, I do not think we are going to get there. 

Plenty of people are in my position but many more in Oklahoma are facing steeper climbs. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s senior economist Elise Gould, over four decades of increasing economic disparity has resulted in two generations of Americans who did not achieve the same level of income security enjoyed by their forebears. 

As a result, the wage gap between chief executive officers and average American workers is approaching Feudal levels of disparity in the U.S. 

George Lang

OPINION by George Lang

According to Forbes’ list, the richest man in the world, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is worth 177 billion. That is 16.8 times the Loves’ worth, and considering the CEO to worker ratio was 320 to 1 in 2019, we are a nation of “poors” continually being asked to prop up the rich with our diminishing wages and ever-diminishing savings. 

We are being exploited, and too many people cannot imagine their golden years without seeing themselves in a blue vest saying “Welcome to Walmart” hundreds of times a day. 

By the way, the name “Walton” shows up so many times on the Forbes list, it almost feels like bedtime on Walton’s Mountain, because every Jim-Bob, John-Boy or Mary Ellen in that family is worth metric shit-tons of money — personal worth that mostly came from people with comparatively no money, people who live pretty much like the 1970s Walton family on TV.

In the 365 days between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021, Bezos added $64 billion to his total worth. This was mostly made on the backs of people whose employment was diminished or shaky during the COVID-19 pandemic and, if they were following the guidance of medical experts, were mostly shopping at Bezos’ company. 

And even amid all this remarkable unfairness, people of ordinary means are getting bamboozled by former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party that is currently cosplaying as him. 

Last month, several news outlets reported that Trump was still scraping his supporters’ bank accounts for funds. On Wednesday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is emailing people with a spinoff of the same scam. 

They receive an email with a box already checked: “We need your help to DRAFT Trump for President! Check this box if you want Trump to run again. Uncheck this box if you do NOT stand with Trump.”

Another message, formatted with the same checked box, informs the hapless donor that their “Trump patriot status” is “MISSING! As a top grassroots supporter, we were surprised to see you ABANDONED him. This is your LAST Chance to update your status to ACTIVE!”

In the most egregious version, the NRCC becomes downright threatening: “If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems.”

While the presumably rich Trump was mostly elected by other rich people who wanted their rich president to make them richer, he also raked in a ton of campaign funds from people on the other end of the economic spectrum. They are being ritually screwed out of their income by a man who is unlikely to make it to 2024 without collecting multiple indictments. 

According to the Forbes piece, Trump is worth $2.4 billion, which is less than Paycom’s Chad Robison is worth by half a billion dollars. 

The enormous wealth disparity with our previous president and his followers, Paycom’s CEO and his workers along the Kilpatrick Turnpike, and Bezos and every person on the planet have turned America into a financially untenable place where service workers are not deemed worthy of a $15 minimum wage.

As Oklahomans and Americans, we need to stop reading this annual Forbes list with wide-eyed wonder and dreams of Lotto success. We need to start reading it like a horror story.

Feature photo credit: By the Hush Hush agency, www.hushhush.com.

Last Updated April 8, 2021, 7:59 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor