Six ways the rich really do get richer

“Class warfare:” Lately this old term has been taking on new life as political theater, a way to rebuke Wall Street protestors, and, predictably, fodder for Fox News. According to Google, in just the last month alone, 3,870 articles have been published containing these words. Another way to express the concept of rich vs. not-so-rich is the expression, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” It’s been around for a long time: According to Wikipedia, William Henry Harrison went there in 1840: “I believe and I say it is true Democratic feeling, that all the measures of the government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.” I’m not going to take a stand on either side of the “class warfare” debate by saying that the rich do or don’t take unfair advantage of the rest of society. This is America, where we all have the potential to become rich. But I will say this unequivocally: The rich do get richer, or at least have the potential to. Let’s count the ways:

1. Housing bargains – but only for the wealthy and uber-wealthy

Reed Saxon/AP/File
In this 2010 file photo, a "bank owned" sign is seen on a home that is listed as a foreclosure on a Department of Housing and Urban Development website, in Hawthorne, Calif. Foreclosed homes by HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac will be sold in bulk in auctions that only the wealthy can afford to participate in.

From this recent article on

The largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors — vulture funds. These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value. You and I will not be allowed to participate.

The reason “you and I will not be allowed to participate” is that these properties will only be sold to those that can bring “a billion dollars or more to each transaction” – entities like hedge funds, foreign sovereign wealth funds, or companies like Goldman Sachs.

Even if you’d like to buy just one home at public auction, prepare to show up with serious cash. Traditional foreclosure auctions where individual properties are sold at the largest discount typically require cash within 24 to 48 hours. See our story How to Buy a Foreclosure.

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