Considering Wealth

Should Billionaires even exist?

So I am going through my social media feed today, and I run across a nice little article about a billionaire in England that is buying up land to create preserves. My first thought was awesome. This guy is doing something really positive with his wealth… and then I got to thinking.

Now before I start tearing this guy and anyone else with an unreasonable amount of personal holdings apart, let me say this. I commend him for this action. It is a beautiful thing he is doing, and it may have a significant impact on generations to come.

Now back to raising hell.

How is a billionaire even a thing?

Don’t misunderstand me here. I am a capitalist. I believe that people can and should acquire wealth to care for themselves and each other. The thing is, I also believe that since the first time we gathered around one guys fire…we have been somewhat communal in our pursuit of a better life.

Most importantly, I do not think those two things are mutually exclusive.

But I do think that when we live in a world where the average income (worldwide) is just over $10,000 per year (link), and the median INDIVIDUAL income in a rich country like the US isĀ $26,695, household is $50,502 (link), the notion of a billionaire existing doesn’t reconcile with those two things.

I mean, assuming that this person earned the same amount every year…and did not spend any of it. Lets also assume that they started earning it at birth, and worked until they were 70 years old. 1 Billion divided by 70 years would mean an annual income of $14,285,714.29 cents.

That’s almost 283 times the earnings of the average household income of the richest nation on earth.

Its 535.14 times the average individual income of the richest nation on earth.

And over 1400 times more that the average income of a human beings in total.

Does any one person provide 1400 times more value than any other? How about 535 times? Could you even stretch and say 283 times?

Hell lets say for arguments sake that people do in fact do things that are that much better than everyone else. They contribute on a level that justifies the difference.

Do they do it for 70 years straight? Because that is what that kind of wealth disparity says.

So what do we do about it?

In my mind we have to find a way to balance things out some.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I know there will always be a bell curve, and the cream always rises and all of that. But there is nothing you can say that will convince me that most people have to struggle to get by on a median income of $26,000 a year while a very few sit on more than they even have the potential to make.

I also don’t think that money should just be taken from one group and given to the other. Our sharing in the improvement of our world and our societies needs to be balanced.

What I do think, is that the very wealthy should be aggressively encouraged to invest in the public good.

The simple way to accomplish this is through progressive taxation. Simply go back to the marginal tax rates of the 1950’s, where certain income/holdings levels were taxed at an onerous 90-95%.

In the interest of allowing private enterprise to do what it doesn’t trust government to, there should be very liberal tax deductions for contributions to society.

I could go on for another 10,000 words detailing all of those possibilities, and how the world would benefit; but this site is supposed to be about thought experiments…

So play with the idea. Talk to your friends about it. Use that First Amendment we love so much.


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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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