Forbes Top 400, aka "The Billionaire Shuffle"


Remember when a million dollars was a lot of money? Maybe, like me, you dreamed of growing up, becoming a millionaire, and living a life of ease. Of course, I always stretched out the syllables and imagined that my "Meeeeeelion" dollars would land me a place "above the law." Now I just dream of becoming Vice President.

At any rate, Forbes recently released its "Top 400 list," outlining the 400 richest people in America and demonstrating once again that a million dollars really isn't all that much money anymore. For the second year in a row, the entry price to the big list is $1.3 billion, meaning that 89 billionaires weren't even able to claim basic membership in the ultimate plutocrats' club.

This year, there were a few shakeups, notably Bill Gates' return to the number one position after he edged aside that scruffy upstart Warren Buffett. In another interesting advance, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, shot up from number 65 to number 8 on the list, demonstrating that there is, actually, a lot of money in public service.

There were also some very interesting new names in the 400. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg made the list for the first year, debuting at number 321 with a measly $1.5 billion. He was joined by 32 other new plutocrats, including fertilizer magnate Alexander Rovt and John Paul DeJoria, who made his money in Patrón tequila.

Of course, every new person on the list means that somebody else has entered the depressing, plebian world of people who are worth less than $1.3 billion. Perhaps the most interesting of these was Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, former head of AIG. I wonder how long it will be before a few of his former colleagues also find themselves tumbling into the land of normal (obscenely rich) people!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He thinks we should eat the rich.