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Richest in the world deserve some credit

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Well the list is out and once again, my name was omitted. This week Forbes Magazine published their annual list of the richest people in the world. I really didn't expect to be included but I had hoped a typographical error might somehow mysteriously place me in this select company. No such luck.

Few surprises this year. Bill Gates still has his $56 billion and Warren Buffett managed to add another $10 billion to his fortune this year to place second on the list with a paltry $52 billion. In all, the world now can boast of 946 billionaires. By comparison, Jed Clampett would be on welfare!

I don't begrudge one nickel these billionaires have accumulated. More power to them. Granted, many of these ultra-rich started with a wad of family cash, but many - like Gates - started with a dream and a vision and turned that into some handsome loot.

Russia, despite its communist past, now is home to 53 billionaires. Japan, India and Germany have about the same. The wealthy list even includes a dumpling-maker from China. It was of some interest that the Wal-Mart heirs fell out of the top 20 richest this year. Though Wal-Mart took it on the chin somewhat this past year, the Walton descendants still had about $15 billion each.

There was one common thread that ran throughout the list of billionaires. With some exceptions, they were smart and willing to take a risk. Yes, many had "old" money behind them and they just sat back and let interest add to their fortunes. But most started with a unique idea and then worked tirelessly to make that idea a reality. What was once an American dream has literally gone worldwide.

The list illustrates the growing gap in wealth between the richest and the poorest in this world. But those who believe the ultra-rich should somehow use their resources to help lift others out of poverty are not paying attention. There will always be rich and there will always be poor. Duh! Don't put one ounce of blame on these people for the pitiful lot of others. These billionaires have been beyond generous with their wealth. And yet they still remain among the elite financial forces in the world.

You want your name someday included on this list? Start by creating an idea that is revolutionary and have plenty of brain to back it up. Then dedicate virtually every hour of every day to achieving that dream. If you're unwilling to make those sacrifices, then settle for some other list. Don't count on luck because luck alone won't get you near this list.

We should not envy those on this list. Instead we should admire them. And not for the amount of money they have amassed over the years. We should admire them for their dedication and their smarts. On any list, that's a deadly combination.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen