all 92 comments

[–]radome9 37 points38 points  (4 children)

It's gonna start trickling down any minute.

[–]ZombieTonyAbbott 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I wish they'd stop eating asparagus though.

[–]DownOnTheUpside 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That's actually where the term peon came from.

[–]dontbe 51 points52 points  (31 children)

I'm as liberal as they get.. but this statistic is always weird to me.. since I have a couple of grand in a retirement account, I too have more wealth than a couple billion.

[–]DeclanGunn 46 points47 points  (1 child)

There's a good argument that this is often mis-representative due to how wealth is measured, especially in small villages and areas where people still largely live outside a monetary economy. Food that's hunted, gathered, grown on small-ish scales like gardens, etc., is never really "checked in" to the monetary economy, it's not sold through traditional currency transactions, it's consumed directly, bartered or traded directly, etc. Food is a big one but the same idea probably applies to all sorts of valuable things. It's actual value is obviously very high in important ways, but goes unrecognized in conventional assessments of wealth.

I'm sure there must be some good articles written about this, I wish I had more information on it. I think it was this podcast with an anthropologist who grew up in a small Kenyan village where I first heard about it (don't remember a timestamp unfortunately).


[–]LockeClone 5 points6 points  (0 children)

And is it counting those in dent with no assets? Like, every American millennial? Not saying American millennials are worse off then those scraping by on a barter system, just further noise that makes this statistic wonky.

[–]Capitalism_is_coming 42 points43 points  (9 children)

You don't have more than all of those 4 billion combined.

[–]BaronWombat 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Not sure if this is answered elsewhere. The stat is that the nine collectively have more than the four billion have collectively. Not that any of the nine have more than any of the four billion individuals.

[–]C-dubb51 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I read it as collectively

[–]yarrpirates 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Yeah, but you don't have more wealth than 4 billion combined. Assets and all. These guys do.

[–]FANGO 17 points18 points  (4 children)

How is that not a problem?

[–]uber_neutrino 11 points12 points  (3 children)

I agree it's a problem. Many people have zero or negative net worths.

That being said, the statistic is dumb because if you simply aren't in debt you are better off than a ton of people because they are literally negative.

[–]Mylon 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Debt is misleading. The debt implies they have some worth that suggests they're capable of paying off the debt, either skills or something of value that can be expected to earn an income. A degree costs money and puts a person into debt, but it should be counted as part of someone's net worth. Thus someone with a degree and student loan debt is still better off than a high school dropout with no debt and $200 in his pocket.

[–]LockeClone 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Depends on a lot of factors... Too many graduates are saddled with crippling debt and a skill set for a bygone economy. We can make ourselves feel better by saying "well, don't get an art history degree stupid!" But I don't like the idea of people being indentured servants for 10-20years because of a youthful miscalculation.

Now, if you take the kid with $200, he can get a job, actually save some of that money and score a cert or get trained and slowly move upward.

[–]mrpicklesMonthly $900 UBI 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's not dumb. It's even worse (in terms of inequality) than if they did have money.

[–]radome9 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Wealth isn't equal to your bank account balance minus your debt. It's about how much money you control - in your case, that probably means your salary. Having debt is not the same as having negative wealth.

[–]dontbe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is a reasonable counter to my claim. I like it.

[–]TheMasterChiefs 2 points3 points  (1 child)

It's the aggregate of those 4b ppl. So just imagine 4b x $50 (an arbitrary amount in each pocket) = $200b. Bezos and 8 others control almost twice as much in assets.

  • 4b is more than 10x the population of USA.
  • 4b is more than 2.5x the population of China.

Another way of saying this is that 9 people (who can fit in one board meeting at one roundtable) own more assets than half the planet.

[–]dontbe -1 points0 points  (0 children)

but if 2b people have a negative net worth? Then my claim stands.

[–]Kebap-Benzin 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No you don't. The article is not talking about that they are richer than 4 billion other people. It's talking about that they have more money than these 4 billion people combined.

I'm as conservative as they get, but even I don't understand what the you're talking about.

[–]Jacketdown 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Yeah but you don’t have more than all of them combined. It’s already disturbing enough that you and I are basically “rich” in comparison to the rest of the world, but the astronomical levels these oligarchs have taken it is disgusting.

[–]dontbe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

They use the word "wealth". and I opine that there are at least a billion or two people in the world with a negative net worth, or "negative wealth". Hence, my claim.

[–]mrpicklesMonthly $900 UBI -1 points0 points  (0 children)

You are thinking that makes it sound better. That makes it worse!

[–]zophieash -1 points0 points  (0 children)

you're just as dumb as a couple billion too!

[–]dh405 -4 points-3 points  (0 children)

THANK you. I'm also strongly against income inequality, but these statistics are just misleading. A homeless man with no debt, no credit, and five bucks in his left pocket has more money than 25% of Americans COMBINED. That.. doesn't make sense.

[–]skekze 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

cause it's a fucked up world we live in

[–]FarmerGiles_ 2 points3 points  (15 children)

So, a bit of back of the envelope math; if we confiscated every penny from the "guilty" rich guys, and distributed it evenly among the poorest 4 billion they would each get... less than $2,000 dollars.

The problem isn't a few rich guys, its not even wealth inequality though we're getting warmer. The problem is the enormous inefficiencies in our societal systems. One small example: over 40% of food in America is wasted. If you want to help people and improve society, start there.

[–]JuniperaK 45 points46 points  (5 children)

2000$ is a LOT depending on your quality of life and where you live in the world. When wealth is hoarded and not spent it slows down the entire economy. Inefficiencies should be worked on as well, I think they are a lot more connected to the wealth inequality than your post assumes.

[–]FarmerGiles_ 3 points4 points  (4 children)

$2,000 is a large sum of money in parts of the world because of the scarcity of liquid cash flow in those countries. If the money were redistributed as I suggested, its value would be diluted.

The point I want to make is that (in many ways) the wealth of billionaires is abstract. Its Brewster's Millions on the insane difficulty setting. These people literally could not spend the money if they wanted to and so its "real" value is questionable.

The wealth is emblematic of a broken system. It is a symptom of inefficiency; cure the disease not the symptom.

[–]Forlarren 9 points10 points  (3 children)

It is if the disease is a liquidity crisis.


I mean I agree it's more than liquidity but $2000 each over nigh to the entire planet would keep the sham going a long time. It would be a huge deal.

Over night the majority would be gone again from wasteful spending, but the remainder would take decades to claw back.

[–]WikiTextBot 3 points4 points  (2 children)

Velocity of money

The term "velocity of money" (also "The velocity of circulation of money") refers to how fast money passes from one holder to the next. It can refer to the income velocity of money, which is the frequency at which the average same unit of currency is used to purchase newly domestically-produced goods and services within a given time period. In other words, it is the number of times one unit of money is spent to buy goods and services per unit of time. Alternatively and less frequently, it can refer to the transactions velocity of money, which is the frequency with which the average unit of currency is used in any kind of transaction in which it changes possession—not only the purchase of newly produced goods, but also the purchase of financial assets and other items."

If the velocity of money is increasing, then transactions are occurring between individuals more frequently.

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[–]FarmerGiles_ 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Good bot.

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[–]sans_phrenia 9 points10 points  (1 child)

¿Por que no los dos?

No seriously, the problem is both. No one is trying to say that only the richest 9 people are the problem.

They are a problem, but so are the rest of the top 20%.... and more. The curve is relatively continuous. There is no hard cutoff point beyond which people are guilty or innocent. The problem is that it's a curve.

[–]FarmerGiles_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Because the antiquated way we approach our financial systems is the cause, and wealthy people with absurd amounts of money are the symptom.

The people mentioned in the article are not wealthy via heredity, but "earned" their money through innovation, genius, doggedness and/or being a douchebag (I'm looking at you Zuckerburg). They SHOULD be wealthy -even vastly wealthy. But the amount of wealth they have accumulated benefits no one, not even them. Its a marker of an inefficient system. Fix the system.

[–]jgggbfrtyuidftt 12 points13 points  (4 children)

It takes money. That these fools are hording. Eat the fucking rich.

[–]sans_phrenia 0 points1 point  (0 children)

40% of the food really is wasted.

[–]ccc45p 0 points1 point  (2 children)

You realize the net worth of all of those people is in stock right? Some of the stocks don't even pay a dividend. Are you telling me we should force Bezos to sell all of his Amazon stock, which pays 0 dividend and whose only value is voting on corporate decisions, and redistribute it to high school dropouts, illiterate criminals, and third world peasants who've never stepped out of their village? Are they going to run Amazon better than Bezos? Did we achieve social justice by letting them vote for Amazon's board of directors?

A better solution is a high estate tax and small wealth tax. Pointing to visionary leaders and telling them to stop hoarding does nothing.

[–]FarmerGiles_ 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Best solution I've yet heard of is the idea of Georgism. To vastly oversimplify the idea: Production is never taxed, but capital is taxed very heavily. The idea being that guys who get wealthy would have significant incentive not to hoard wealth, but rather to reinvest it. Instead, most of the world follows an almost polar opposite policy when it comes to the wealthy.

[–]yarrpirates 2 points3 points  (0 children)

No, we tax the stock to hell and gone with high direct wealth taxes, and distribute the money. We do this continuously, to mostly flatten inequality and then keep it flat. It's a balance against the tendency of capital to pool inefficiently at the top.

[–]Jaksuhn 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The solution isn't to just take it and give it out. It's to put the money to actual use for society instead of sitting in offshore accounts making these guys richer by doing nothing.

[–]Mylon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That's not quite how it works. The $2000 won't just vanish into thin air, but it will be spent and traded. Specifically in ways that aren't nine people siphoning their resources and time away from investing in themselves and their community. That $2000 has the potential to generate much more net worth.

[–]moreawkwardthenyou 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Why stop there? I bet just twenty of the world richest men have twice the world wealth of the worlds poorest. I bet 50 of the worlds richest has three times the poor worlds wealth. I could go on but it doesn't matter. The facts are simple, plainly laid out and have been beaten over our heads for a while now.

So what?

What the hell am I supposed to do about it? If you want me to get mad or fed up, too late. I'm pissed, so is everyone else.

We're so boned while the rich fuck the last of the planet away and what? And fucking what? I wish I had an answer to this fucking question because I have kids. I need to have a actual plan that doesn't end up Mad Max. Science and technology are not going to save savage retardation. We need....we need a plan. A starting point instead of waiting for a tipping point. Or a flashpoint more specifically

[–]freelyread 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What the hell am I supposed to do about it? If you want me to get mad or fed up, too late. I'm pissed, so is everyone else.


When you understand where money actually comes from, you understand the heart of the problem and can raise awareness of others about the issue, so that it becomes a political issue.

[–]radome9 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What the hell am I supposed to do about it?

Vote. Every chance you get. Vote third party if you have to. Vote the lesser evil. But vote, and vote for the candidate that will do the least to make things worse. Vote for higher taxes, vote for more welfare. Tell others to vote.

Talk about your dissatisfaction with actual people, not just in anonymous internet chatrooms. Back up your opinions with facts.

Edit: also join or form a union.

[–]dontbe 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Now if they have more INCOME than the 4 billion, that's a big deal..

[–]mangmere 8 points9 points  (1 child)

They likely do, given most of the world population survives on less than 10 dollars per day.

[–]MeshesAreConfusing 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Still, capital inequality is always worse than income inequality, so probably not as bad.

[–]FANGO 7 points8 points  (2 children)

I would argue that wealth is far more important than income in these statistics. Because wealth shows that inequality is increasing, shows how many idle resources are not being used to better the economy, etc.

[–]plagelpuss 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Considering almost all of their net worth is based on the value of stocks from the companies they or their parents founded how is it anything other than idle. Even if they wanted to sell off their ownership in the companies doing so would still require willing buyers, eventually it would drive down the value of the stock and just destroy some portion of the wealth.

[–]MeshesAreConfusing 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I would still argue that wealth inequality is worse, as wealth is more easily inherited, perpetuated, and generates its own income.

[–]daisytrench -2 points-1 points  (4 children)

This might be crazy, but one way to lower the wealth of the rich folks is to cut the price of whatever it is they sell. Say they are getting rich by selling a product at $100 each. So mandate that they charge only $50.

[–]nickiterLibertarian Basic Income Nutjob 4 points5 points  (3 children)

That'll put more companies out of business than it cuts the salaries of owners. Just tax them, it's not a new idea.

[–]daisytrench -1 points0 points  (2 children)

You aren't seeing the bigger picture here. I encourage you to envision a world in which all people are treated with justice. The problem with taxing the rich is that it keeps you dependent on them and upon their riches. It's kind of demeaning, that you are just eating such scraps as are given you. I mean, sure, there's the satisfaction of 'sticking it to the man' but still, the status quo has to stay in place. The rich guy has to stay rich., and you'll never have any more money than what you can get out of him. The real solution is to come up with a plan that puts power in the hands of the people. That's where it belongs. Everyone should have the power to become a rich person themselves; not be dependent on someone else. Hell, for one thing, that rich guy got rich off the backs of his workers. How is that fair? Pay the laborers what they are worth. People need to be compensated fairly for their labor. When this happens, there won't be just one rich guy any more; the money will be spread evenly over the people who have earned it. Another option is the societal benefit of lower prices on goods sold. This keeps money in the hands of the people who earned it, and ensures that more people than ever can afford the things they want to buy. That old cliche is more true than ever -- power belongs in the hands of the people.

Edit to remove some snarkiness; also apologies to all for being snarky.

[–]nickiterLibertarian Basic Income Nutjob 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think the core principle of economic fairness you're going for is basically good, but I'm skeptical of the methods. Price controls in particular have been tried quite a few times, and they have a lot of adverse effects like lower quality, less choice, and companies going under. We've seen that effect with the current price controls in American health care - doctors have to spend less time with patients, which lowers quality of care.

Lower prices, in a vacuum, are good for consumers, but many of the world's wealthiest people have become wealthy precisely by aggressively lowering the prices of consumer goods - the Waltons are the prime example. Americans actually have access to some of the cheapest consumer goods (and food, and housing) in the developed world, especially as a percentage of median income, so lower consumer prices seem like a less important goal to me than increased incomes and opportunities for wealth accumulation for the 99%.

[–]zophieash -1 points0 points  (0 children)