Who Was The World's First Billionaire?

Forbes reports that as of March 2019, the world had 2,153 billionaires with a combined wealth of $8.7 trillion. Even crazier, the wealth of 46 percent of those less-than-one-percenters had gone down from the previous year — or as Forbes put it, the billionaires were "poorer (relatively speaking)." Citing the Wealth-X Billionaire Census, CNBC says that as of May 2019, Earth was home to 2,604 billionaires. Moreover, the site claims that the "majority" of these big-buckaroos, including Jeff Bezos, are "self-made" billionaires. Apparently, Bezos paved all the roads Amazon trucks use to deliver products that other people made. Naturally, he also delivered the babies who would become his worker bees — employees who've complained about being treated like machines instead of human beings. 

Amazon's order pickers are ordered to "pick up 400 items per hour, picking each item every seven seconds." They don't take bathroom breaks for fear of falling behind and being fired. Presumably, those conditions were self-made by Bezos. Did he also self-make the tax laws that allowed Amazon to pay $0 in taxes in 2018 despite raking in over $11 billion in profit? Who knows? As the richest person on the planet, Bezos embodies dollar-worship by default, but that's not his fault. And while Bezos' infamously anti-union practices have left workers in a lurch, he certainly isn't the worst or the first billionaire to place profits over people. 

Coal miners didn't dig J.D. Rockefeller

John Davison Rockefeller was basically Daniel Plainview in that he was an oil man who had zero qualms about drinking your milkshake. And rest assured that crossing him could mean there would be blood. The owner of Standard Oil and founder of the University of Chicago, J.D. Rockefeller became the world's first confirmed billionaire in 1916, according to Forbes. "People hated Rockefeller's guts," writes Smithsonian. A self-made monopolist, he considered competition "a sin" and practiced what he preached, dominating 90 percent of the oil market. But worshiping at the altar of money meant sinning against workers in a truly sinister fashion.

As Timeline describes, Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. orchestrated the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. Back then, companies implemented a system of feudalism, governing entire towns and hiring detectives to spy on unions to keep employees powerless. When the town's miners went on strike, the company struck back by evicting them. The company also hired thuggish "detectives" whose strongarm tactics included "outright terrorism." They shot into tents, occasionally killing sleeping miners who now lived in tents. When the miners shot back, the National Guard was called in, leading to a 10-hour gunfight. Per Britannica, a total of 25 people died, including 11 children.