Less than a week after the federal government slashed food assistance for low-income families by $5 billion, a Washington D.C.-based research group revealed that 50 of the country’s richest people received over $11 million in handouts from the government, that could be labeled “welfare for billionaires.”
The “welfare” actually came in the form of “farm subsidies” to the 50 billionaires, most of whom are not even farmers nor have anything personally to do with farming.
While $11.3 million may seem like nothing to the billionaires on the list uncovered by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, it would be enough to provide food stamp assistance to more than 8,400 people for 10 months. The average monthly benefit for recipients nationwide in 2012 was $133.41.
“Farm programs that benefit billionaires are indefensible and irresponsible,” said the research study’s author, Alex Rindler. “The information shows that our broken policies propped up the richest few at the expense of taxpayers and struggling families — that’s a backwards vision that no one should be proud of.”
Many of the billionaires on the list, in addition to the direct government handouts, also received “crop insurance” subsidies from taxpayers. But the government does not disclose the names of insurance subsidy recipients so it’s impossible to discover which billionaires got how much insurance money.
The government pays about 62 percent of crop insurance costs.
Among the 50 billionaires on the government dole, in the form of farm subsidies, is David Rockefeller Sr. (pictured), the 98-year old patriarch of the vastly influential Rockefeller clan, former chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and founder in 1973 of the Trilateral Commission, an elite private group of American, European and Japanese business and political leaders.
Discount stockbroker Charles Schwab, whose $5.1 billion fortune places him 88th on the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest individuals, makes the list as well.
Both billionaires received more than half a million dollars in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies.
Also on the list of billionaire welfare recipients is current U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt Hotel chain, Royal Caribbean Cruise line and other high-profile holdings. The list also includes five other members of the Pritzker family, which is one of America’s richest families.
Microsoft co-founder and owner of the NFL Seattle Seahawks Paul Allen, whose net worth of over $15 billion makes him the 53rd richest person in the world, received $14,429 in subsidies for barley. Several members of the Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, also took in subsidies, as did S. Truett Cathy, founder of the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.
Sources: New York Times, Forbes, Environmental Working Group (2), Wikipedia (2) (3), U.S. Department of Agriculture