The Only Good Billionaire

For most of human history, leaders had to focus on staying alive. First, they had to fend of family members who wanted the job. Then they had to make sure the people were not revolting. That was not always enough as there were always external threats so they needed the people willing to contribute to the common burdens like supplying men for war. It was not always easy to keep the people happy. Being the boss was fraught with danger, which is why it often ended poorly.

A great example of what I mean can be found in Rome. The Julio-Claudian line had five emperors. Augustus lived a long life and died of old age. Tiberius spent most of his life too paranoid to do much of anything and was smothered in his sleep. Caligula was murdered. Claudius lived a long life and died of old age, but Nero ended poorly, committing suicide rather than face being killed. That’s two good ends, two horrible ends and one debatable end, Tiberius.

Keep in mind that this was the most civilized society to have existed up until the late Middle Ages. Outside of Rome, the life of a ruler almost always ended violently. I think you can argue that European civilization turned the corner once they got a handle on how to both constrain the ruling class and address those who were trouble, without resorting to riots, uprisings and conspiracies. The orderly maintenance and transfer of civil authority is the great leap forward in human affairs.

I’m fond of saying that post-modernism is when a people forgets all of the lessons of the past with regards to human relations and sets about painfully relearning them. The care and feeding of the ruling class is one such example. America has lost control of its billionaires. Untethered from any sense of obligation to their host country, the billionaire class is now functioning as a colonial class. Along with their managerial class attendants, they are ruling over us like the Brits in India.

A survey of the news on any given day paints a gloomy picture of where it is all headed. But, a flicker of hope from the Far East should pick up your spirits. China just executed one of its billionaires.

A Chinese billionaire famed for his love of casinos, cigars and luxury cars was executed on Monday in one of the most dramatic episodes yet in president Xi Jinping’s war on corruption.

Liu Han, a 49-year-old mining tycoon once worth at least £4.2 billion, was one of five alleged mafia kingpins to receive the death penalty after being convicted of offences including gun-running and murder.

The part-time God Father “tyrannised local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said in a brief dispatch announcing the execution.

Prior to his death Liu was allowed a final “meeting” with his family, Xinhua added.

Liu Han made his money in construction and went on to become the chairman of the Hanlong Group, a Chengdu-based mining firm with interests in Australia, Africa and the United States.

Worth an estimated 40 billion yuan (£4.2 billion) at his peak, the tycoon was a vocal and extravagant regular in the business pages, boasting of his diamond watches and fleet of Bentleys, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces.

In a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Liu bragged of plans to buy a billion tons of uranium. “Liu Han always wins. Liu Han never loses,” said the billionaire, who was reportedly wearing a knee-length mink jacket.

Yet for all his business acumen, Liu’s parallel life as an “evil gangster” proved his undoing.

Well, it’s a start. According to the people who count these things, the world has 1,645  billionaires. Make that 1,644. Which brings me to this.

The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

From Thomas Jefferson to William Smith, 1787

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
grey enlightenment
5 years ago

It seems you have a grudge against the wealthy. I don’t personally feel controlled by billionaires. Most billionaires are successful businessmen going about their lives, albeit with more money and responsibility.

5 years ago

After Jefferson’s quote I have nothing to add.

Dindu Nuffin
Dindu Nuffin
5 years ago

A. Bierce’s Decalogue: Thou shalt no God but me adore: ‘Twere too expensive to have more. No images nor idols make For Robert Ingersoll to break. Take not God’s name in vain; select A time when it will have effect. Work not on Sabbath days at all, But go to see the teams play ball. Honor thy parents. That creates For life insurance lower rates. Kill not, abet not those who kill; Thou shalt not pay thy butcher’s bill. Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife, unless Thine own thy neighbor doth caress Don’t steal; thou’lt never thus compete Successfully in business.… Read more »

5 years ago

Claudius lived a long life and died of old age

No, he was poisoned by his wife (and niece) Agrippina in order to secure the succession for her son, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus (better known as Nero), who eventually poisoned Claudius’ son Britannicus and had his wife Octavia, the daughter of Claudius, exiled and then murdered.

The Julio-Claudians were not a happy family, and Claudius did not come to a “good end”.

The Z Blog
The Z Blog
5 years ago

You are correct and I was mistaken. I knew that Claudius was murdered. But, he was not poisoned by his wife. She may have been behind the conspiracy, but she did not actually kill him. At least that’s the consensus.

I say that with all due respect, by the way.

Let me also add that I am amazed by some of the people who read my blog.

james wilson
james wilson
5 years ago

Compare Buffett and Carnegie. One acquires wealth and seeks every advantage from government (opposing the Canadian pipeline while his railroad carries that Canadian oil to the States), the other relentlessly reduced the price of steel by a factor of forty times, creating an immense value added, a commercial construction boom and attendant employment, and was broken up by government. Jimmy Madison created a government in which it’s sole function over business was to see that ambition countered ambition–the only true regulation–in matters “both public and private”. What government’s great size and power grants itself now is, rather, a partnership, like… Read more »