Rich List

FORBES magazine has long been fascinated with rich people. Each year they snoop around in financial pastures and come up with a list of the richest people in the world. This year, six of the 10 richest are Japanese, which ought to lift the eyebrows of Uncle Sam. Many think the symbol of Uncle Sam is changing to Rip Van Winkle. The richest man in the world, Forbes says with some assurance, is Yoshicki Tsutsumi, who is worth ``at least'' $15 billion. The second richest is Taikichiro Mori, a professor of economics. Rich professors? It can happen if one is in real estate. Anyway, I suppose there are bound to be some mistakes in a list like this because when one gets up into the billions of dollars who can count straight?

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart stores in the United States gets on the list with a mere $8.7 billion. I have a hard time buying things at Wal-Mart now because I have a mental picture of Mr. Walton sitting somewhere behind a huge cash register, chuckling as he rings up my $15.95. It's safe to assume that over the years I have paid for the headlights on one of his Rolls Royces. It gives me pause. Here am I, someone who doesn't have even one billion dollars and I'm buying his headlights.

Forbes excludes royal families from its list, also heads of state, potentates, and dictators because they don't actually earn their money. But then who can earn $15 billion, let alone deserve it?

While it is nice to have a pile of money, having too big a pile is indecent. It somehow flaunts the fact that so many have so little. It has something to do with ``free enterprise'' - and democracy brags about it.

Money won't buy happiness, someone said.

Since a lot of people believe this saying, I decided to see how the gang at the town tennis courts felt about it. Would they want to be rich or happy?

Everyone preferred rich.

Anyway, rich people can't be unhappy all the time.

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