www.mybaycity.com April 10, 2011
Columns Article 5841

Only 10 Michiganders on America's 400 Wealthiest List, None From Here

April 10, 2011
By: Dave Rogers

Forbes magazine is out with its annual ranking of the nation's wealthiest individuals.

"If a man dies rich, he dies disgraced." --Andrew Carnegie

As the political focus zooms in on taxes and taxation rates, Forbes magazine is out with its annual ranking of the nation's wealthiest individuals.

Michigan barely makes an impact with only 10 tycoons. Highest is Frederick G.H. Meijer, the 91-year-old grocery magnate from Grand Rapids, listed as 57th with a fortune estimated at $4.9 billion.

Of course, Seattle's Bill Gates of Microsoft and Warren Buffett of Omaha's Berkshire Hathaway top the list with $54 and $45 billion respectively.

Michael Moore, the documentary filmaker and political activist from Flint, said in 2009 the $1.27 trillion in the pockets of the richest 400 was more than the $1.22 trillion in assets of the bottom half of Americans.

Says Moore, in 2007 the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households owned slightly more wealth than the Forbes 400; the economic meltdown has hurt the bottom more than the top. (And in fact, in 2010 the net worth of the Forbes 400 jumped to $1.37 trillion.)

That top 400, by the way, represents .0000035 percent of all households in the United States.

Forbes commented: "Granted, many of the nation's top earners, including Gates and Buffett, contribute a tremendous amount of their wealth to charity each year, and will continue to do so. But many others, like Charles and David Koch, who contribute to a wide range of right-wing causes, are also actively fighting to weaken working-class rights (as they did in the recent Wisconsin union fracas).

"On top of all this, it's worth mentioning that, of the 25 richest Americans, just three are women, and none is a person of color."

Other wealthy Michiganders on the list include:

62-Richard DeVos, 85, Ada, $4.3 billion, Alticor (formerly Amway);

170-Ronda Stryker, 56, Portage, $2.1 billion, Stryker Corp. (medical technology);

182-Alfred Taubman, 87, Bloomfield Hills, $2 billion, real estate;

238-Michael Ilitch, 81, Detroit, $1.7 billion, Little Caesar's pizza;

252-Michael Moroun, 83, Grosse Pointe Shores, $1.6 billion, trucking, Ambassador Bridge;

290-Roger Penske, 74, Birmingham, $1.4 billion, cars;

332-Jon Stryker, 52, Kalamazoo, $1.2 billion, Stryker Corp.;

385-William Ford Sr., 86, Grosse Pointe Shores, $1 billion, Ford Motor Co.;

385-John Brown, 76, Kalamazoo, $1 billion, Stryker Corp.

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