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Billionaires reach for the stars while world suffers

Jeffrey D. Sachs

With all due respect to Jeff Bezos and other billionaires who plan to spend billions of dollars of their personal wealth on space travel, hundreds of millions of children who lack access to basic health care and schooling more urgently need help right here on Earth.

The world economy is pumping trillions of dollars into the accounts of a few thousand people. These riches should be directed first and foremost to end the millions of needless deaths caused by extreme poverty, and to educate the hundreds of millions of children who lack schooling. The billionaires would still have enough left over to indulge their longing for mega-yachts, personal space ships, private tropical islands, and other conspicuous consumption.

The digital age has created winner-take-all markets in information -- including our personal data -- and Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, and others are giddily reaping the benefits. In the past dozen years, according to Forbes Magazine, the number of billionaires and their net worth have both roughly tripled, from 793 billionaires with $2.6 trillion in net worth in 2006 to around 2,200 billionaires with $9.1 trillion as of March this year.


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