Forbes: Pennsylvania’s billionaires get richer
I want to get this out of the way at the beginning: Once again, I did not make the Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, but I had plenty of company. Unless you were one of six lucky Pennsylvanians, neither did you.
Of course, I am sure these six are saying that luck had nothing to do with it. Maybe. Some earned their wealth through hard work and by displaying some of the other characteristics that we associate with success, but some were fortunate enough to be born into wealthy families and inherited their fortunes from dad, mom or their grandparents. Others married wealthy spouses and became instantly super rich upon their divorce settlement.
To join the elite club this year, a person needed to have acquired more than $2.1 billion, a few hundred thousand more than last year. Despite this high bar, 19 newcomers are on the list for the first time.
According to Forbes, two of the richest newcomers achieved the list through divorce or death. MacKenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, debuted at number 15 with $36 billion after her settlement with the nation’s still wealthiest person, while Julia Koch, widow of David Koch, one of the famous Koch Brothers, came in at number 13 with $41 billion.
The same six Pennsylvanians who made the list last year are still there this year. Among the six, they became $4 billion wealthier in just a year.
OK, now try to wrap your head around this statistic: The combined wealth of these six ($23.7 billion) is more than four times greater than the combined income of every household in Carbon and Schuylkill counties ($4.9 billion).
Victoria Mars of Newtown Square, Montgomery County, one of the heirs of the Mars candy fortune, continues to lead Pennsylvania’s wealthiest with $7.4 billion, up from $6 billion (number 70 on the top 400, up from 98th last year).
She is followed by Thomas Hagen of Erie, chairman and former CEO of Erie Indemnity, $3.9 billion, up from $2.3 billion (number 195, up from 354th) – fifth among Pennsylvanians last year.
Campbell Soup heiress Mary Alice Dorrance Malone of Coatesville, Chester County, $3.5 billion, up from $3.1 billion (number 239, up from 259th) – second in Pennsylvania last year.
John Middleton of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, whose company was acquired by tobacco giant Altria, $3.3 billion, up from $3.2 billion (number 261, up from 251st) – third in Pennsylvania last year.
Michael Rubin, also of Bryn Mawr, founder and CEO of Kynetic, a direct-to-consumer e-company, $2.9 billion, down from $3 billion (number 271, down from 296th) – fourth richest in Pennsylvania last year.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie of Wynnewood, Montgomery County, $2.7 billion, up from $2.1 billion (number 319, up from 383rd) – remains sixth among the richest Pennsylvanians.
Among the notables who made the list are President Donald Trump who came in at 275th with $3.1 billion and Oprah Winfrey at 319th with $2.7 billion.
Despite their extraordinary wealth, a record 221 American billionaires, including Kylie Jenner, failed to make the cut. You may recall last year Jenner made the Forbes’ billionaires list, and the magazine proclaimed her as the youngest self-made billionaire at just age 21.
I laughed at the “self-made” designation, because if Jenner were not born into an already famous and wealthy family – the Kardashians – you can bet that her wealth would be nowhere near her estimated worth of $1.2 billion.
Also failing to make the list is hop-hop legend Jay-Z, who recently crossed into billionaire territory because of lucrative investments in real estate, art, liquor and businesses, such as Uber.
To put an exclamation point on the wealth inequities in our country, a new book – “The Triumph of Injustice” — by two University of California economists reports that in 2018 for the first time ever, America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class.
It said that the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households.
What’s that old saying about “the rich get richer …”?
By Bruce Frassinelli | firstname.lastname@example.org