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10 Worst People on Forbes 2013 Billionaires List

Oligarchs and monopolists and thugs, oh my!
 
 
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Photo Credit: Graphic by Rachel Dooley. Copyright In These Times magazine. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

It will hardly come as a surprise that the rich got richer in 2013. Didn’t happen to you, did it? The combined wealth of the world's billionaires hit an all-time high of 5.4 trillion, up from 4.6 trillion in 2012.  

The Forbes list of billionaires is brimming over with oligarchs, monopolists, thugs, miscreants, and hustlers. Not to mention right-wingers, narcissists, and parasitic predators. The only thing missing is the king of Mexian drug lords, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, whose assets were evidently too hard to calculate this year.

Putting together a list of the worst individuals in this group is a daunting task: How to choose, for example, between telecom monopolists? The richest person in the world, Mexican mogul Carlos Slim Helu, is certainly no friend of humanity, but Silvio Berlusconi, with his special brand of Technicolor depravity, managed to edge him out. There are hundreds of garden-variety jerks to choose from, along with several dozen egregious SOBs like GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons who deserve dishonorable mention. And there should be a whole separate list of Russian oligarchs. Alas, one runs out of space and time.

While not comprehensive, here, in no particular order, are some of the biggest creeps on the 2013 roster.

1. The Koch brothers: Charles Koch ($34 bn), David Koch ($34 bn), William Koch ($4 bn)

Where to begin? David and Charles, the brothers still with Koch industries, are among the world’s biggest polluters, for starters. Bill Koch, who split off from the family company, is a world-class weirdo who devotes himself to things like building a faux Western town solely for his amusement and buying a $2 million photo of Billy the Kid. Though not as active in bankrolling GOP pols as his brothers, Bill was a big supporter of fellow 1 percent jerk Mitt Romney and has found time to fight against America’s first offshore wind farm in Massachusetts. As for David and Charles, they have won a permanent spot in the Public Menace Hall of Fame, kicking their fellow human beings in the face with everything from funding climate change denial to strangling democracy. They have striven mightily to reshape America into a Tea Party nightmare, and have plenty of money to continue their mission.

2. Rupert Murdoch ($11.2 bn)

Murdoch, the Australian media tycoon, has dedicated himself to coarsening the public sphere through the misinformation, intolerance, and contempt of ordinary people promoted through his News Corp. Politicians woo him for his cash and the vast influence of his newspapers, magazines and TV networks, creating a foul nexus of influence that is corrosive to democracy. Be it union busting, race-baiting, or monopolistic business practices, Murdoch has been there, done that. Lately, he has found himself embroiled in a hacking scandal in which employees of his newspapers were caught doing just about anything, including bribing police and hacking into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, to get a story. Murdoch recently tweeted what he considered a joke about an obese woman who fell through a New York sidewalk, asking if she got fat from food stamps and welfare.

3. Gina Rinehart ($17 bn)

If there is a hell for those who hate working people, Australian mining mogul Gina Rinehart occupies the innermost circle, right there in Satan’s maw. The richest woman in the Asia/Pacific region likes to share her obscene philosophy of wealth, and recently made a case for $2 dollar-a-day pay. She also instructed poor people to stop being jealous of the rich and to focus on working harder, and drinking and smoking less. She has blamed Australia’s economic problems on a socialist anti-business agenda, but of course Rinehart, who inherited a $30 billion fortune, has never had a real job. She does have her own Facebook fanpage, “ F*ck Gina Rinehart,” which boasts nearly 38,000 likes.