How Rich are you? What is your Class? Where do you fit in the Wealth Distribution of Global Resources?

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Published on The Doomstead Diner March 24, 2019

 

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Discuss this article at the Economics Table Inside the Diner

 

Inside the Diner we are having our regular debate on what it means to be "Poor", "Middle Class" or Rich?  Diners have the full variety of opinions on this, which usually suit their own perception of themselves and how they want others to perceive them.  Is there a way to cut through this variety of opinion to come to some reasonable definition of what any of these terms actually MEAN?  It often seems quite hopeless getting any agreement on this between the Diners, but in doing some research on the topic yesterday, I ran across a great website which has a Calculator allowing you to place yourself in the Global Ranking of Rich People on Earth.

I started doing this research after watching a video recommended by another Diner, a TED talk given by a Scandinavian Sociologist Harald Eia concerned with the topic of "Where in the World is it easiest to get RICH?"

Harald came up with the result that you stand the best chance of getting rich in the Social Democracies of places like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.  He came up with this result by looking at the number of people with a net worth of $30M or better per capita by country.  This is something of a surprise to people who buy into Capitalist doctrine that High Taxes and the Social Welfare State are a drain on their incomes, but not much of a surprise to me because I already knew there were tons of filthy rich people in Scandinavia.

Now, the first problem here is defining "Rich" as $30M or better.  At this "watermark" (the speaker's terminology) there are only around 180K people globally.  That is out of 7.5B!  It works out to 0.0024% of the Global Population.  Do we really only define "Rich" people as being not just members of the 1%, but you gotta be in the top .0024% ?  That is a pretty stiff requirement to consider somebody rich, IMHO.  You know the rich people in your neighborhood by the carz they drive, the McMansions they live in, the restaurants they frequent and how often they take expensive vacations.

The second major issue with his methodology is it defines your Wealth by your Net Assets, not by your income.  To me, your wealth is not defined by what your total assets are, but rather how much disposable income you have in any given week/month/year to play with after you cover your rent, your car payment, your communications bill, your food, your fuel, etc.  So for me, wealth is more defined by Income than Net Assets.

I began to wonder what the situatioin was for people who were below that Stratospheric figure of $30M?  Was there a way to find out where the people with a Net Worth of $10M stood?  $3M? $1M? $100K? etc.  As it turns out, THERE IS!  You can find out on the Global Rich List calculator, and not only by Net Assets but by Income also!

So, I took 3 Hypothetical People and gave them some numbers to plug in to the calculator, and got the results for them.  Here they are below:

 

1- Fixed Income Frank

Frank is living on his Social Security and small Pension after working in various Middle Class jobs making the Median Salary for the time for 40 years.  He rents an apartment, has a couple of old carz and has a small Nest Egg to carry him through emergencies.  Here are Frank's Global Numbers:

 

 

Professional Pete:

Pete works in IT as a website developer for a local corporation.  He has worked up to a middle management position working for this corporation for over 20 years.  He grosses around $80K/year and he takes home about $60K after taxes, utilities, insurance etc.

 

 

 

Biz Owner Bill

Bill owns an Auto Repair and Body Shop biz in Springfield, MO as well as a couple of smaller ancillary biznesses, an Auto Zone franchise and an interest in the local NASCAR Dirt Racing Track.  He was born to Dirt Poor sodbusters in the Ozarks and bootstrapped himself up like Horatio Algier to become a Bizness Leader in his community.  He complains all the time about his onerous tax burden when out drinking with his buddies.

 

 

 

Now, as you can see, even if you are at the lower end of  relatively poor people in the FSoA living on a fixed pension and Social Security, relative to the rest of the Global population you are still doing quite well, Inside the top 7% in terms of Assets and 2% in terms of Income.  The cost of living is also quite different in Amerika than in say Mexico, so by itself this doesn't tell you how Rich or Poor you are for an Amerikan living in Amerika.  If you go ex-Pat, your status can change drasticlly of course.

So in order to get a good idea where these Asset and Income levels put you at relative to the rest of Amerikans, you have to drill down and isolate just this portion of the table.  Below is how our 3 hypothetical subjects rank out relative to each other.  Fixed Income Frank is in RED, Professional Pete is in PURPLE and Biz Owner Bill is in GREEN.  Assets calibrated from 8% on down in .2% increments, Income from 3% on down in .05% increments.

 

 

Based on the above chart, it becomes quite easy to determine who is Rich and who is Poor in Amerika.  Middle Class is a bit more difficult to peg, and can differ markedly depending whether you are looking at Assets or Income.

Where do you fit in the Wealth Distribution curve for the World and for your country?  Do the numbers match your self-perception and self-identification?  How do you think this skewed Wealth Distribution can be rectified, or does it even need to be rectified?  Do you think Capitalism or Socialism is the better system to distribute diminishing Total Wealth on a resource depleted planet?  Do you have an alternative to suggest rather than one of these choices?  Come join us Inside the Diner to discuss thes important questions as the Collapse of Industrial Civilization bears down upon us all.

 

 

 

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