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Sad News: America's Billionaires Facing Tough Times

Have billionaires, as some observers claim, now 'suffered' their way back to the rest of us? Nope.

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Numbers these large tend to numb. We need some perspective here. Try this: Over 19 million Americans work for state and local governments, mostly in education. The pension funds they depend on for their retirement security, the Federal Reserve reported last week, have lost $108.3 billion, 35 percent of their value, since the meltdown began.

Who bears the responsibility for this meltdown? Forbes editor-in-chief Steve Forbes seems to feel no one really bears any personal responsibility for our current economic carnage. He sees the meltdown as more or less a natural catastrophe.

"The global economy has been battered by a financial hurricane," says Forbes. "It's no surprise that billionaires are being battered along with everybody else."

But billionaires have not been battered like "everybody else." They and their fellow super rich, in their chase after more billions, have been the batterers. Their reckless behaviors, on Wall Street and in Corporate America's executive suites, have essentially hollowed out America's middle class.

These super rich, despite their losses over the last year, remain super rich. They can still afford any luxury. More dangerously, for the rest of us, these super rich can still afford to powerfully influence -- and distort -- the political decisions that determine who will pay and who will really suffer in the troubled days ahead.

Sam Pizzigati is the editor of the online weekly Too Much, and an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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