Who wants to be a billionaire?

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

It was always a happy day in the O'Connor household when the “Sears Christmas Wish Book” arrived.

The annual catalog was hard to miss. It typically weighed in north of 600 pages. And at least a third of the volume showcased toys, toys and more toys. Sweet rapture! My siblings and I spent many a thrilling afternoon and evening carefully poring over each item on display, trying to distill the best prospects for that follow-up discussion with Santa.

Alas, the hard copy version is no longer with us (Wishbook.com was launched in 1998, and that didn't survive either).

But I just came across something else that provided a similarly wistful tingle: the March 21 issue of Forbes, which lists the richest people on the planet.

So this is how one tenth of one tenth of one tenth of one tenth of the One Percent gets it done! According to Forbes 30th annual list, there are 1,810 billionaires sharing the planet with the rest of us. Their combined worth is a staggering $6.48 trillion.

Alas, there is not an administrator or nursing director to be found on any page. In fact, there's not even a nursing home owner or industry financier mentioned. Although something tells me that the folks at Forbes might want to give the NIC attendee list a closer inspection.

It would appear that if you want to become a billionaire in healthcare, eldercare services may not be your quickest route. Sure it's a growing sector, but it's piker territory compared to the oodles to be made in pharmaceuticals, biotech, vaccines, and medical devices, apparently. Better to pursue one of those tracks if you want to thumb your nose at the mere filthy rich.

For most of us in the unwashed masses category, it might appear that having a few billion dollars stashed away would lead to restful slumber. But that's not necessarily true. This year's list clipped off 16 members. And the aggregate net worth of those who did make the cut declined by $570 billion. This also marked the first year that the average net worth of a billionaire dropped year over year. It's now “only” $3.6 billion. Even by billionaire-status standards, a $300 million loss is no mere rounding error. To borrow and twist some parenting advice: Small fortune, small worries. Big fortune, big worries.

Still, perhaps we should take some comfort in knowing that more than a thousand people have won the billionaire lottery. Sure, we might be on the outside looking in. But thanks to Forbes, we can imagine the possibilities.

John O'Connor is Editorial Director at McKnight's.

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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