Who will win capitalism’s great race?


The race is on, the competition is heating up and excitement is mounting.

It’s capitalism’s great race – the quest to grab as much as you can while you live. The winner is the person who dies with the most money.

The latest progress update has just come through (courtesy of Forbes magazine) and it shows just what a stunner of a race this is. Drama at the front as the lead has changed again.

Four years ago Mexican telecommunications mogul Slim Helu powered ahead of Microsoft’s Bill Gates to take the yellow jersey. However the US colossus hasn’t stopped in the rest area as many expected. He’s carefully plotted his comeback and has surprised us all. He’s surged to the head of the leading bunch after a spectacular year ripping the rest of us off.

Such excitement. Such a towering figure of human achievement. How does he get away with it?

Gates is now worth US$76 billion – pause for prolonged applause – while Helu is now a full US$4 billion behind in second place.

There are more contenders entering the event each year however so we shouldn’t rush to judgement.

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The world’s billionaires increased in number from 1,426 to 1,645 and their net wealth increased to $6.4 trillion (thousand million) from $5.4 trillion. These people are serious competitors so Gates and Selu can’t rest. We know they’ll be cracking the whip on their employees for bigger profits this coming year.

Here in New Zealand our only serious contender so far is Graeme Hart who on the face of it holds a mere US$7 billion (NZ$8.36 billion) in wealth. This puts him well behind the leading bunch but he has some advantage in youth over many of the older pack leaders. He’ll be able to keep on racing after they pass on – as 16 billionaires did last year. (Good on them – they didn’t win but at least they were in there trying)

Remember the aim is to die with the most money and this year Hart showed we can’t write him off yet. He increased his wealth by – wait for it – $2 billion since the last update. That’s almost a 25% increase in just a single year. That’s unmatched by anyone in the top group. Let’s face it – this kiwi is hot.

We may have hundreds of thousands of kids growing up in poverty whose parents and caregivers work for peanuts in the likes of Hart’s companies but let’s not be spoilsports. Thousands of kids going to school hungry every day is a small price to pay for us having a kiwi up there giving it his best shot – for himself.

Meanwhile Prime Minister John Key, bless his heart, is doing his best to make it easier for other kiwis to enter the great race – just a select few of course. It’s very generous of Key to give up his place as a competitor when he reached $50 million to become a race steward instead. As Prime Minister and New Zealand’s main race official his job is to take away the barriers and smooth the course so the leading contenders can have an easier go of it.

So he’s been working hard to deregulate the economy and drop taxes for the wealthiest New Zealanders to give them their best chance to get into the race seriously. He’s also working tirelessly to transfer democratic power from citizens to the leading international corporates and biggest shareholders so they can get a fairer go too. And why not? The rest of us aren’t serious competitors anyway. Most New Zealanders own just an old second hand car and a few household appliances. Not much wealth there so no point wasting money on them when we can give a few more people a serious chance in the big event.

And wherever possible John Key gives them a refresher during the race – just like the water stand at a marathon. Tens of millions to the wealthiest shareholders in the likes of Rio Tinto and Warner Brothers whenever they ask and plenty more to others who use New Zealand as a tax haven.

Isn’t it great to see a kiwi out there doing his best to help his wealthy mates and make this race more competitive?

If you get offered a miserable pay increase this year don’t complain.

Remember not to think what the wealthy can do for you – think what more you can do for the wealthy.

After all that’s what capitalism’s all about.


  1. Bill Gates is spending billions through his Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. This seems to be his primary focus now not accumulating greater wealth. The increase is likely the result of the increase in value of Microsoft stock and not anything he has done. This will eventually be spent on a number of social initiatives. What is your problem again?

    • The problem is your inference, from the particular case of Bill Gate’s charity, that we should ignore how the rich get rich in the first place, and rely on the good intentions and boundless generosity of the rich to make capitalism fair.

        • He had a successful company that sold millions of Windows and Office licences.

          If people have a problem with this, they can buy Linux with Open Office.
          Problem solved.

        • Hmm, I’m at a loss. Should I repeat the point you ignored, which is that it’s absurd to rely on the goodness of the rich to make capitalism fair? Or should I play along with your question, and talk about the exploitation of third world workers, or the planned obsolescence of products for first world consumers?

          Or maybe I should just point out the obvious; i.e. that the issue of the fairness or unfairness of capitalism doesn’t rest on whether Bill Gates – this one particular guy – is a nice bloke or not.

            • When it outsourced to India and China.

              Does zeroing-in on this one point and ignoring my other points mean you concede those other points?

              Great. Good talk.

        • “How did Bill Gates get wealthy in your mind then?”Gosman’s answer to Sam…
          If you wish to be pedantic, Gosman, it would shock me if Bill Gates had to climb into someone else’s mind to get wealthy!

    • Oh piss off Gosman.

      Instead of giving to charities, why not just pay your workers more? Then we wouldn’t need so many charities would we?

          • Microsoft was originally a software company. It is only recently that it got involved in hardware. Most of Bill Gates wealth was made while it was a software company. The software was originally developed in the US mainly.

            • Gosman implies all the software is now made in China. All that original software had to installed in computers made in…you guessed it…China.

                • OK,OK, Gloss Man, but that software has to go into computers made by exploited Chinese workers so MS are indirectly involved. Knowing you can be so pedantic on questions you think you can answer, while ignoring those you can’t, I should have added to “All the Chinese factory workers making the computers” which install MS software. OK?
                  Andys can give you a fuller picture as a MS developer.

                  • Just to be clear here, I don’t work for Microsoft. I develop software for the MS platform and I am a MS Certified Trainer

                    MS develop most of their software in the USA in Redmond
                    The computers that run Windows are made in many countries, mostly Asia now (including China)

                    Apple’s hardware also comes from the same places. In fact,I think they even use the same factories (Apple is basically PC with expensive badges and the Apple OS instead of Windows)

                    MS recently got into some hardware with their “surface” PC which is supposed to be a competitor for iPad. It hasn’t been very successful

      • I am a Microsoft developer so I’d be more than happy to have a 4 or 5 fold pay rise courtesy of Bill Gates.

        Mind you, I am really OK with what I earn so I also feel OK about Gates doing some serious work in developing countries with vaccines

        • Unfortunately, Gates has done more harm than good with his philanthropy. He may know computer but he doesn’t know about public health or education. Most of the work he is doing in education is about getting more computer into education – computers to teach kids instead of humans, computers to tests kids rather than pen and paper, computers to store all the information about kids (and parents), computers to mine the kids’ (and parents’) information to sell products to them – and this isn’t for the benfit of apple. His wealth gives him more power and more access to powerful people than his abilities would warrent.

          • Are you against providing cheap computing to third world countries so that they can access the internet?

            If so, does this same attitude apply in first world countries too?

    • Explain to me how Bill Gates’ “philanthropy” is still somehow making him RICHER every year? What, he can’t spend it fast enough? Please. You really need to start laying off the sauce.

      • Well I guess he could give all his money to someone else like Larry Ellision so that he can play with big boats in San Francisco Bay

        Would that make you feel better?

      • Bill Gates is getting “richer” because the value of the stock he holds in MSFT is increasing.

        Like most tech entrepreneurs who got in early, if they hold stock in a public company that they formed, they will likely be very wealthy

        In NZ, look at Xero and SLI Systems for NZX listed companies and you will find the same thing, not as rich as Gates, obviously. But the wealth was generated from the value of the stock, which pension funds and other investors buy.

    • That anyone is allowed to be this filthy rich is not in the interests of humanity and shouldn’t be allowed. Giving away money with strings attach so very patronising.

      • So what do you suggest then? That it be made illegal to form a publicly traded company? Or that the State should forcibly seize assets of a private citizen?

        • Maybe the guy giving me the down votes would actually like to come up with some answers

          All I see here is a bunch of envious people who don’t like seeing successful guys making truck loads of money.

    • Gosman,
      My personal problem is that I recently purchased a computer with Windows 8 software and, because there’s no Word installed, I have to buy the entire Widows Office program if I want all my old files to be downloaded on to it. No wonder Microsoft increase their stock value, I’m forced to buy an expensive program I don’t want.
      Oh yeah, they also want me to buy their ‘aps’.

      • Presumably you bought this product out of your own free will?

        If you want to read your old Office docs, buy a Linux or Chrome laptop and use Open Office for free.

        Problem solved.

        • Andys,
          Thanks for the tech-info, but I don’t really want to have to buy a new laptop as I already have an iPad.
          My old desktop Dell XP came with Word on it and, silly me, I assumed Widows 8 would be the same. The salesman for my new Windows 8 neglected to tell me this machine only had Notepad and, to be fair, I didn’t ask him if Word was installed. I have installed Apache Open Office but still cannot download my old Word and Office files except in gobbledygook. MS Office won’t let me run another trail version to sort this out, so I’m screwed into paying them more dosh unless you have another solution.
          (I strongly suspect other contributors to this post will be indignant about how far we have strayed off-topic. As they say, to assume is to make an ass out of u and me)

  2. Brilliant, perfectly summed up.

    Sad thing is many peoples eyes glaze over when a rich person talks like they have the drug everyone really wants.

    The New Religion: Bill Gates must be the Pope, the rest must be the worshipers, people lining up for a new phone or game like it’s a blessing? It is more exciting than a wafer, sounds like Ground Hog Day nothing changes. Many people are in awe of all that glitters.

    • And yet the irony of you using technology his company help develop to make your leftist pronouncement on the evils of capitalism is somehow lost on you.

      • Just “Google It” . Oh no they are evil capitalists too!

        If only we had a State Run Search Engine


        • Did you know that the search algorithm that Google uses was developed by the US government and that the US government gets absolutely no return on it while Google makes billions?

          • Yeah, it is exactly the same algorithm that the US Government developed. I hope you picked up the sarcastic tone there.

            How did Google get hold of this then and Bing’s is a pile of sh*t?

          • Are you referring to the spidering algorithm or the Pagerank algorithm?

            Page Rank is named after Larry Page who developed the algorithm with Sergey Brin as part of their (incomplete) PhDs

            If you are referring to something else then this is presumably a GPL type licence.
            Most of this stuff is pretty well covered in this industry. There are all sorts of patent and IP trolls out there trying to make a killing.

            Now that *is* something to get worked up about, in my view – patent trolling. A genuinely dishonest way to make a living.

            • I don’t know which one it is only that it was developed in a university at the public’s expense and that the public get almost no return on it due to Google using dodgy financial constructs to prevent paying taxes.

              Actually, that goes for all of the technology developed by the US government and which private enterprise now make billions from.

      • The real “irony”, Gosman, is that it was the U.S. government that developed the technology to create the internet with taxpayers money. Isn’t that socialism?
        Tim Berners-Lee then invented the world wide web and gave it to us all for free, now that’s real philanthropy for you.

        • @Yogibare

          I will concede that you have a valid point there
          Berners-Lee developed the WWW and the way he built it without proprietory add-ins and vendor lock-in is well described in his book “weaving the web” which I highly recommend

          Of course, the aggressive nature of Microsoft is also well-documented, but I feel that today’s MSFT is a bit more in tune with the open source market. (For example, they have embraced jQuery and also helped to build the open web services platform that is endorsed by the W3C).

          So I would say that the open platform market and the proprietary platform makers aka MSFT and Oracle are reaching a more mature level

      • Gosman,”And yet the irony of you using technology his company help develop to make your leftist pronouncement on the evils of capitalism is somehow lost on you.”
        – See more at: https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/03/05/who-will-win-capitalisms-great-race/#comment-197742
        So you’re ignoring my inconvenient point that the initial technology was developed by the U.S. military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned his taxpayers about? The same complex that continues to drain U.S. (socialist) taxpayers funds to make (capitalist) military suppliers rich.

  3. If Bill Gates spent his money re-building what the u.s.a has wrecked in country’s like Iraq then he’d be broke real fast.

    And how much money is microsoft getting paid for building insecure products that the NSA or other ‘five eyes’ spooks can snoop in any time they like??.

    I think Bill was lucky to have scammed his money before his country’s spy agency set about destroying the american computer industry ….

  4. Do the trolls serve any useful purpose? If I need to vomit, I can buy emetics, I don’t need NAct government supplied nausea.

  5. Last night I played a game called “Ka pai Island” with my grand-daughter. It is sort of like snakes and ladders with a touch of monopoly community cards. Anyway, at one stage of the game, I was well behind her when she landed on a community card square that said she could go to one of the corner spots and take a friend any time she liked. I then threw the dice and landed on a square that sent me almost back to the beginning, at which point she played the community card that took us both to the same spot, her backwards, me forwards. The very next toss of the dice, she landed on another community card that said she was to go back to the beginning of the game
    What would you have done at that point, she is 6 years old?

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