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If We Took Michael Moore’s Advice

Michael Moore says the US is not broke: all “we the people” need to do is take the money back from the fat cat billionaires.

What if we took this advice? Let’s imagine expropriating some of the wealth of the richest man in America, William Gates III. Forbes says he’s worth about $54 billion, of which $16 billion is his Microsoft stock. Let’s start by taking that.

OK, so now we’ve seized about 7% of Microsoft’s stock. That’s the largest single block of stock, which should give us some privileges like picking a board member or two. Unfortunately we don’t have actual control of the company because, well, the other 93% could easily outvote us. So we have to sell the stock in order to get cash.

MSFT is trading at $25.91 right now. If we dump shares on the market the price will drop somewhat – say ten percent. So we’ll clear about $14.5 billion dollars during our sellout, driving the MSFT share price to $23.32. (Incidentally, this will reduce the wealth of everyone else who holds MSFT stock by a total of about $22 billion.)

OK! Now we’ve got $14.5 billion in cash for “we the people”. That’s, uh, $50 per person. OK, here you go. Fifty bucks. That really helped a lot.

What were the secondary effects? Well, I’d guess for starters that any publicly-traded company which has substantial ownership by a billionaire will suffer a hit in stock prices: that would be Berkshire Hathaway, Oracle, Microsoft again (Paul Allen), Wal-Mart, Koch Industries (privately held), Bloomberg (privately held), Google, Facebook (limited trading), Apple… After all, if the government (we the people!) demonstrates a willingness to take Bill Gates’s stock and sell it, why would these others be safe?

Ding! What’s that I hear? It’s another delicious running-dog treat from my friends at Koch Industries. Gotta go, I’m already salivating!