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Now let me preface this by saying I am not proposing any form of socialism as a solution. With all its flaws, the free market/capitalist system is, to paraphrase another comparison, the worst system of economics except for all the rest.
But with that said, here’s a bit of a quandary.
According to OXFAM.org, the 10 wealthiest people in the world, all men, increased their net worth from $700 billion pre-pandemic to $1.5 trillion in 2022.
To put those numbers into a meaningful perspective. If these gentlemen liquidated their assets into cash intending to spend it all, it might look like this. To do this, we must agree this is just a thought experiment and ignore that doing such a thing may not be as easy as it sounds.
Let’s say they decide to spend 100 million dollars per day. Please check my math on this but,
$1,500,000,000,000 divided by $100,000,000 equals 15000 days or 41 years.
Forty-one years at 100 million dollars a day to spend the 1.5 trillion dollars in net worth.
When you consider the number of humans living below the poverty level, or worse, the idea the 10 men control enough money that it would take decades at 100 million dollars a day to spend it all should give you pause.
Think about that next time you hear how the country is in debt. We cannot afford to house the homeless, solve the drug problem, or eliminate any other issues facing us today.
While I don’t think socialism is the answer, there should be some limit to the amount of wealth concentrated in the bank accounts of such few people.
There should be some way to apply a limit to the percentage of wealth concentrated within such a small percentage of the population.
In Newport, Rhode Island, there are testimonies to avarice and greed used to fund monstrous houses. The “Newport Mansions” were built at enormous cost, primarily from the profits from 1890 railroad magnates and other successful businessmen. Businesses that exploited the common laborers that made the businesses possible.
For example, one of these homes cost $12 million to build at the time. This is equal to $300 million in today’s dollars. And these were summer residences, some never used more than a week or two by the families who built them.
While one might argue that the carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, cooks, house staff, and caretakers benefitted from the construction, does that justify such an enormous expense that served no other purpose but as a symbol of extraordinary wealth?
Trickle-down economics sound plausible and beneficial, but the reality is entirely different.
Perhaps the structure of the tax laws needs to reflect a shared percentage of one’s wealth. Then everyone would pay the same portion of their earnings and assets. It is fundamentally unfair for someone with significant financial assets to take advantage of tax laws intended to offer incentives to people taking risks and starting businesses and turning them into vehicles to forego paying their fair share.
I don’t have the answer to the issue. But that doesn’t mean it is not appropriate to raise it for discussion. I just can’t help intuitively believing that something is fundamentally unfair in a world where it would take ten men forty-one years to spend all their wealth at one hundred million dollars a day.
We have only ourselves to blame for letting our political system be dominated by those who can afford to run for office or are willing to be paid to do so by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
And if you believe flawed individuals hold positions of power, that is on you. To quote Mahatma Gandhi,
“If there is an idiot in power, it is because those who elected him are well represented.”
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