John Andrist: Thoughts on the Richest Americans


Somebody sent me a sample copy of Forbes magazine this week. It’s a magazine that focusses on wealth management, but I never felt I had enough wealth to qualify.

This is the issue where they report the names of the 400 wealthiest Americans. I scanned the list but couldn’t seem to find my name.

I suspect I may have missed the cut. A guy by the name of John Arnold is there at $2.9 billion. I only missed by a few letters — and, oh yeah, a B or two.

I knew I should have held out longer when I sold The Journal to Steve.

The 400 richest Americans average about $1.7 billion each.

One story said these 400  have a combined wealth of $2.7 trillion. I know what you are thinking, but if we wiped all of them out, took the money and ran, we wouldn’t knock a significant hole in our country’s total $18 trillion debt.

Besides, Hillary would find something else on which to spend it.

Number 156 on the list, of course, is Donald Trump, who claims a worth of $10 billion. Forbes has it figured out at closer to $3.7 billion, but that‘s just one of the smaller exaggerations.

If he is not satisfied with the Forbes rank I guess he will just have to sue.

I know you are waiting breathlessly to find out that number one is still Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. He’s been at the top for a long time, and at $81 billion he still has a pretty good lead over number two, Jeff Bezos ($67 billion) of Amazon fame.

Most of the top 10 seem to be guys on the ground floor of technology companies. It looks like a pretty good plan. I’m going to start one myself just as soon as I can figure out how to run my cell phone.

It’s been a good year for Walmart, and that has put at least five Walton family members on the list, two of whom are women. It looks to me like the key ingredients to making the cut are technology, financial investment and money management and being an heir to somebody who hit it big.

I found it just as interesting that quite a few near the top are immigrants.

Near as I can tell there is not a single North Dakotan. We’re still little leaguers. However, Denny Sanford from South Dakota credit card fame is there.

I browsed the list for quite a while before I closed it and wrote a letter to the editor to complain that they spelled my name wrong.

There was an interesting side story on the NFL owners, about half of whom are on the list. But those who fell short didn’t miss it by too much. It seems most of us are gluttons for football to about the same degree as those owners are gluttons for wealth.

Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboy owner, has the richest franchise, worth $4.2 billion. But it doesn’t seem to be able to buy him a Super Bowl.

The Vikings franchise is worth $2.2 billion. The poorest franchise: Buffalo Bills could probably sell for only $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. Tough break!

In case you are wondering, send me an e-mail and I’ll check the list for your name — for a modest tip, only if I find it.

Thoughts about the pipeline

I suspect virtually none of the protesters have taken time to look into the process by which Dakota Access Pipeline was given the go to build.

Likely they don’t know or care. They are simply following their hearts, “standing up for justice for the down trodden”.

Even more sad, it is pretty certain President Obama didn’t really know or care when he pulled the plug on the DAPL easement, nullifying months and months of legal procedure followed by the Corps of Engineers.

Nor did the tribal chairman who literally refused to even meet or talk with DAPL or the Corps.

None of us like all our laws. But our system is based on following them. It’s the only alternative to tyranny.

Law enforcement people, particularly the Morton County Sheriff, are charged with enforcing law, not of pacifying unhappy people.

For the rest of us here in North Dakota it is a matter of waiting, watching, and wondering — and paying the bills.