#10 Observations on the Forbes 400
I don't know if you are like me, but when they come out with the Forbes list of the richest 400 people in the US each year, I have to look and see who makes up the list. I guess I am also looking at it to see if my name is on it and that I had made a major mistake in my checkbook and that I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Regretfully once again I failed to find my name on the list.
However when you look over the list the richest 10 people in America today, it raises a number of questions. Fist on the list once again was Bill Gates, and also in the top ten were Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) and Steve Ballamer (president of Microsoft). Making up positions six through 10 were Sam Walton's descendents.
Notice that two companies in America today account for 8 of the 10 richest people source of riches. Wal-Mart and Microsoft. Interesting that Wal-Mart has used as its way of succeeding by selling their goods at low prices everyday and scares retailers in every town it goes in. The local retailers are always claiming that Wal-Mart will put them out of business by underselling them, but yet it has produced 5 of the 10 richest people in the nation, each of them worth about $11 billion. Makes you wonder what kind of profit those small retailers are making when that kind of profit can be made by selling it cheaper.
The three representing Microsoft are the ones that really irritate me. We continuously hear from Microsoft in the computer industry that people copying (pirating according to them) software is costing Microsoft and other companies tons of money. We hear that in some nations such as China that half of all software is illegally copied. You would expect from the way they go around crying about this and the price they charge for their software that they were all losing money.
Now let's look at their worth's. Bill Gates is worth $58 billion, Paul Allen $22 billion and Steve Ballamer is the poor man in the bunch and only worth $12 billion. Now my question is what would they be worth if they could stop all the illegal copying and get paid instead for all those copies? Maybe a total of $150 billion instead of just $92 billion? To me it appears that they could greatly reduce their prices, still make a profit, and more people would be able and willing to buy the software legitimately. I wonder what do you do with $12, $22 or $58 billion? I just can't imagine how you could spend it all, and I think of how many ways others could use this money. Are some building more storehouses for tomorrow?
Do not take to mean that I am encouraging people to illegally copy software. I would encourage and recommend that people always use legally licensed software. In most cases the developer needs your money to recoup their costs and make a little profit. I am not, but I am encouraging the manufactures to help fight this problem not just by using police means but economic means also. I do realize some companies are hit hard by the illegal copying and because of low sales of their product are losing money. However most people see these individuals worths and flags go up. I am also a writer of software. I continuously have customers tell me I could easily charge more, and I am sure I could, but then do I need the money and does it make my product any better? I believe not. I write software and teach because these are skills that I believe God has given me to make this world a better place. This does not mean I take a vow of poverty, I don't, and I don't think I shouldn't get reasonable pay for reasonable or exceptional work.
I know what I need to be comfortable in today's world. I think maybe Bill, Paul and Steve need to stop and think what do they need to be comfortable and do what they want and what are they increasing in wealth is just building more storehouses for their money on earth.
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