SF's 16 billionaires (and who says this city is broke?)


The new Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans is out, and guess what? Sixteen of them live in San Francisco. That's a lot of very rich people. Some new ones on the list this year, too. And that doesn't count all the very, very rich who didn't quite make the cut (Warren Hellman, for example, isn't quite rich enough for this list.)

It's another reminder: This is a wealthy city, folks. And some of the people who live here, who have done exceptionally well with the Bush tax cuts (and despite the recession) can well afford to pay more local taxes.

So next time a political candidate tells you we can't raise taxes in a recession, tell them to check out the Forbes 400 and our own 16 billionaires.




Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

Economic Rent:


Even if there were a sales tax on housing rent, then that would depress landlord profits to the level where the market would bear the combined costs.

But the far leftist extremists at the Economist are really pushing a socialist agenda, and I'm glad that you tripped them up on that.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

on their rent, just like we all do on everything else we purchase.

Great idea, "marc"

Posted by Tom on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

Confusingly, rent has two different meanings for economists. The first is the commonplace definition: the INCOME from hiring out LAND or other durable goods. The second, also known as economic rent, is a measure of MARKET POWER: the difference between what a FACTOR OF PRODUCTION is paid and how much it would need to be paid to remain in its current use. A soccer star may be paid $50,000 a week to play for his team when he would be willing to turn out for only $10,000, so his economic rent is $40,000 a week. In PERFECT COMPETITION, there are no economic rents, as new FIRMS enter a market and compete until PRICES fall and all rent is eliminated. Reducing rent does not change production decisions, so economic rent can be taxed without any adverse impact on the real economy, assuming that it really is rent.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 9:19 am

I am amazed how many apparent communists there are in San Francisco. I guess no one has learned from the dark side of communism in the Soviet Union or China or North Korea. Hey, democracy combined with capitalism is tough and messy and not always fair and I am all for reasonably helping the poor (I am one of them). But to catagorize most of the wealthy as such despicable characters is not such a good idea. I agree that not all the wealthy are such good folks, but not all the poor are exactly saints either. The class-warfare painting of the poor as all downtrodden, with NO responsibility for anything that has happened to them, just does not ring true to me. I myself have had financial challenge, partly because I was not efficiently watching what I was doing, I was stoned (not anymore!), I was not working hard enough with enough smarts in the skills and ablities I have. I do not have the energy to work long hours and build/manage a big company, as do many of the wealthy of this country. I do not begrudge them their hard work and the gains they have made, while at the same time I agree they should pay somewhat higher taxes in proportion to their income. But, just taking money from the rich and giving to the poor does not work. There is absolutely a mindset of poverty, I still struggle with it and no amount of money handed to me by someone else's hard work, will change my mind. I have to do the hard labor of changing my mindset from within, and that cannot be faked or handed to me. I have to work at it.

Posted by Guest working out of being poor on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, the philosophical fathers of liberal capitalism, hardly communists, are the sources of the movement to tax rent.

American the American political center of gravity has shifted so far to the right that Smith and Mill appear socialist. But no matter how many electrons FOX NEWS [sic] and the capitalist media push out on us, words have meanings, concepts are distinct and have immutable characteristics, not everything is fungible.

The wealthy are not necessarily despicable characters, rather they reap tremendous amounts of unearned wealth which has historically been seen as a windfall subject to taxation to cover the costs of infrastructure to all firms.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

Ok Marc, you are very smart, you speak of philosophers and great ideas...but in the cauldron of the very messy, untamed and ugly human heart, greed crosses the centuries and until the base human nature can be changed (I only know of one way, and that is Jesus Christ), there will always be the rich and the poor. Greed is present both in the wealthy and the poor. If every person on earth was given a million dollars, I assure you that within a relatively short space of time, that money would have changed hands. Some would be well-used and invested, some would be stolen, some would be dissipated in dissoloute behavior, some would be given away, and some would be used for good and not so good behaviors and endeavors. The whole point of what I am saying is that all the government intentions and taxations of the rich will not eliminate poverty. The heart has to change first.

Posted by Guest working out of being poor on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

Nonsense. For 2,000 plus years followers of the religious bastardization of Jesus' original ideas have been preaching that the heart must change to change the world. And you have accomplished what exactly?

The best way to make sure that a person does not become greedy and crime driven is to make sure that he has enough to eat and a warm home, and to make sure that the wealthy don't have so much wealth that it impoverishes others.

Structural change is what changes societies, not impotent calls for us to grow ethical hearts.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

SO you want the "there will always be poor" part of Christianity but not the "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's?" part of Christianity.

Perhaps you need to look deep within your own Christian heart for residual satan to launch a fatwa against and eliminate? Let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone, baby.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 5:51 pm


Cutting yourself a bigger slice of the cake rather than making the cake bigger. Trying to make more money without producing more for customers. Classic examples of rent-seeking, a phrase coined by an economist, Gordon Tullock, include:

• a protection racket, in which the gang takes a cut from the shopkeeper’s PROFIT;

• a CARTEL of FIRMS agreeing to raise PRICES;

• a UNION demanding higher WAGES without offering any increase in PRODUCTIVITY;

• lobbying the GOVERNMENT for tax, spending or regulatory policies that benefit the lobbyists at the expense of taxpayers or consumers or some other rivals.

Whether legal or illegal, as they do not create any value, rent-seeking activities can impose large costs on an economy.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Touche' Marc and Eric Brooks.
I understand you hate Jesus Christ, I get it. I could recite and explain how I have experienced the scriptures you throw at me, Marc, but it would not help.No stone throwing here, from me! Nothing I could say would change your minds or hearts, only the Hound of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, can do that.

Deep sigh...I really really want to jump into this juicy argument ( I used to love to argue in my youth)...but it just goes absolutely no-where and I have been warned to avoid this maelstrom before; it is a little like head-banging...just gives me a headache.
Me? I am a sinner, one of the foremost on earth, no doubt about it, Marc. I admit it, and I live every day under Jesus' wonderful Grace! Grace: unmerited favor!

Impotent to change the heart?? No way, Eric, no way on earth. All the social programs on earth or forceful taking of wealth or hatred of the wealthy, will not in themselves, bring anyone permanently out of poverty. That is why I spoke of what would happen if you gave every person on earth a million dollars. It would not stay evenly distributed for long. Humans have to change and only God can do that.
Bye for now, fellow passionates.

Posted by Guest working out of being poor on Jan. 16, 2011 @ 9:17 pm