Global Crisis/Innovation Blog

The Rich  Grow Richer, or…Crisis?  What Crisis?

By Shlomo Maital


no. of people with $1 m in investable assets    

The Bible says, you will always have the poor among you, meaning poverty is perpetual.  This is true, because of how we define poverty in relative terms – say, half the average income or less. 

  The Bible does NOT say, the rich you will always have with you, and they will constantly grow richer.  But they do.  Somehow, even though financial markets globally remain unstable and volatile, even though real estate still declines,  somehow the wealthy continue to grow wealthier, while ordinary people struggle just to find a job. 

  According to The Economist (June 23, 2011),   

An annual survey estimated that the combined wealth of the world’s 10.9m rich people (27% of whom are women) stood at $42.7 trillion in 2010, more than in 2007, the year the financial crisis was brewing. More than half of the monied classes live in the United States, Japan and Germany, though Asia has more in total than Europe for the first time.

There are 10.9 million people with at least $1 m. in investable assets.  Their wealth, $42.7 trillion, is staggering.  Suppose, just suppose, these 10 million people, the population of New York City, decided to give one tenth of their wealth to those in need, to help them study, go to college, learn to read, pay for crop seeds or start a business.  That comes to $4.27 trillion!  Suppose there are a billion poor people on this planet, who earn about $1 a day.  That gift would give each of the poor $4,000 !  Would that change their lives forever?  And it would leave the millionaires with 90 per cent of their wealth, for most enough to remain millionaires, comfortably.

    Okay, if that is impractical, what about this?  Ask the world’s 10.9 millionaires to contribute just the increment, the increase in their wealth, between 2009 and 2010, so they remain as wealthy now as they were a year ago.  I think that alone would amount to several trillion dollars.

   It won’t happen.  And in America, the Republicans have placed a poison-pill requirement on their approval of raising the debt ceiling – no new taxes, not on millionaires, not even on billionaires.  The Democrats are unhappy, but I bet they swallow it.  Good work, Republicans. You might even win the Presidency in 2012.  Let’s watch the rich grow richer – and the poor grow poorer, in America, the world’s “greatest country”.