Think Bigger Picture on Extreme Wealth | The Bigger Picture


Think Bigger Picture | Discussions About Big Picture Issues That Really Matter
The Gini Coefficient | Think Bigger Picture
The Wealth Gap | Think Bigger Picture
Success | The Bigger Picture
Taxes | The Bigger Picture
Business Ownership | The Bigger Picture
Big Business | The Bigger Picture
Extreme Wealth | The Bigger Picture
Careers | The Bigger Picture
Main Page | The Bigger Picture
Think Big Picture on Money | The Bigger Picture
Copyright 2014 Christopher Wicks | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Contact Us
Discussion #14 - Uber-Wealth / Globalization

The human ego & need to feel significant seem to be driving the global economy these days. It's just human nature, & both are healthy (ego in moderation). It's just getting a little trickier for people to find their self-worth in life, with so many of us living on the planet & increasing globalization. The feeling of "it's all been done" is starting to creep into societies around the world.

The increasingly common obsession with extreme wealth, I believe is a side-effect of this problem. Wealth is actually the easiest way to feel significant as a human being, as everything (but love & health) has a dollar sign attached to it. Money can buy virtually anything. Don't get me wrong, I like the feeling of success as much as anyone. It's the obsession with it that's the problem.

Capitalism works great, until the greed & polarization of wealth distribution gets out of control. Then what you get, is a small percentage of the population getting uber-wealthy on the backs of the remaining. Sort of a pyramid scheme, but with the middle levels of the pyramid shrinking, & the lower levels growing, to further engorge the elite few at the top.

Some would argue that this is just natural selection, or survival of the fittest. Globalization is turbo-charging the problem, & the world's middle class is shrinking fast. Large corporations are not happy with just massive profits, they must have increasing massive profits (the shares must go up). As an investor, I get this, but I do not morally or ethically agree with crushing or oppressing others to achieve it.

There are some extremely successful companies out there, who treat their employees well (& pay them top dollar). What they get in return, is extremely loyal workers (& management). They gladly bend over backwards to help build these companies. What the greedy companies are over-looking, is that after work employees are customers. With a shrinking middle class, this means less revenue potential for everyone (including governments). All this short-sighted greed is just creating a huge long-term problem.

Globally, the majority of us in "The West" ARE actually the 1% financial elite. The occupy movement is busy comparing the 1% elite in the richer countries with the poorer in those countries, which is of course a massive & growing problem. A much more significant problem, however, is globalization. The 2 main stats which prove this, are that anyone with an annual after-tax income of $34,000 (US) is in the top 1% globally. Anyone with an annual income of $500,000 is in the top 1% in America. Also, virtually half of the top 1% globally reside in the US.

While the middle classes in the poorer countries are indeed growing, & in the richer countries shrinking, the wages are still not even close to being similar (even using purchasing power parity). A middle class wage in India or China is around $1 to $2/hr., & in The West it's approx. $20/hr. Globally, the median annual income is only approx. $1,300. The sad reality is that our middle class wages are shrinking much farther & faster than emerging middle classes are rising. The difference, of course, is going into the pockets of the already uber-wealthy.

Another good example would be Mexico, a North American country with a shocking minimum wage of just under $5 PER DAY! About a third of the workforce are earning close to this wage (120 million population), & many are working in factories with extremely high productivity expectations. The min. wage in neighbouring US is just over $7 Per HOUR, with most manufacturing jobs typically paying much higher (so far).

This mainly explains why so many American jobs migrate there, & also why so many Mexican citizens desperately attempt to immigrate to the US. It also partially explains why the drug trafficing problem is getting so bad there, as drug dealers in Mexico make far more than min. wage (& also seem to get far more respect on the streets). While Mexico does have a few billionaires & some wealthy elite, the wealth inequality is shockingly wide, & basically, people just accept it (or try to illegally cross into the US, which would explain America's obsession with the wall).

The sad dark reality is that if people had to choose between achieving world peace, eliminating extreme poverty, or having a billion bucks in the bank, the vast majority would choose the latter. It's no wonder the world's economy is so messed up. It's pretty ridiculous to demonize something that most people fantasize over, & this is despite the obvious fact that we can take none of it with us when we go. What people are really craving is the feeling of significance in this life, & extreme wealth is one of the most popular obsessions as a result.

In reality, the amount of personal wealth that it takes for a couple to retire comfortably in most of the richer countries, is only about half to $1 million if invested wisely (& in poorer countries much less). To retire with a reasonably flashy lifestyle would probably take around $5 million. Many of the world's top wealthy elite earn more than this in one day, and they're still obsessively pining away for more. Plenty is plenty, enough is enough. At this point, it's basically just a case of obsessive compulsive disorder more than anything else. Most societies around the world aren't quite seeing it this way yet, so they just label it greed.

As well, not all uber-wealthy individuals fall under this category, as it's extremely unfair to generalize all the way through this subject. There are in fact a few obscenely wealthy people in this world, who are in fact trying to do some extremely wonderful things (for the world) with much of their money. Some have philanthropic foundations in place to help them accomplish this very goal. It's a tricky subject, as we are all complex & unique individuals. It's also a fact that many of us want to (or need to) stay challenged throughout our entire life. To ask a person who is highly driven to just stand down, retire, relax & enjoy your money, is not really very fair either. Hobbies & projects are far more enjoyable when there's a grander sense of purpose attached to them.

There are many wealthy elite who pay serious lip service to trying to make the world a better place. Precious few however, actually follow through to making it their main priority in life. This is a sad reality, as it would definitely be a much more satisfying existence for these elite individuals, to experience the incredible good their wealth would do for pockets of our world, while they are still alive. Instead, most wait until after they're dead and buried, and while alive simply obsess about adding more bucks to their pile, for the vast majority of their time on this earth.

It seems to me, that what's really going on in the minds of many, is a strong belief that a cure for aging may occur in their lifetime. Otherwise, what would be the point of the obsession? It just goes to show how even the most successful and wealthy in this life, are still a little fucked up (when you really stop and think about it). This should actually make us all feel a little better about life, since what it means, is that we really are all in this together.
Discussion #14 - Uber-Wealth / Globalization

The human ego & need to feel significant seem to be driving the global economy these days. It's just human nature, & both are healthy (ego in moderation). It's just getting a little trickier for people to find their self-worth in life, with so many of us living on the planet & increasing globalization. The feeling of "it's all been done" is starting to creep into societies around the world.

The increasingly common obsession with extreme wealth, I believe is a side-effect of this problem. Wealth is actually the easiest way to feel significant as a human being, as everything (but love & health) has a dollar sign attached to it. Money can buy virtually anything. Don't get me wrong, I like the feeling of success as much as anyone. It's the obsession with it that's the problem.

Capitalism works great, until the greed & polarization of wealth distribution gets out of control. Then what you get, is a small percentage of the population getting uber-wealthy on the backs of the remaining. Sort of a pyramid scheme, but with the middle levels of the pyramid shrinking, & the lower levels growing, to further engorge the elite few at the top.

Some would argue that this is just natural selection, or survival of the fittest. Globalization is turbo-charging the problem, & the world's middle class is shrinking fast. Large corporations are not happy with just massive profits, they must have increasing massive profits (the shares must go up). As an investor, I get this, but I do not morally or ethically agree with crushing or oppressing others to achieve it.

There are some extremely successful companies out there, who treat their employees well (& pay them top dollar). What they get in return, is extremely loyal workers (& management). They gladly bend over backwards to help build these companies. What the greedy companies are over-looking, is that after work employees are customers. With a shrinking middle class, this means less revenue potential for everyone (including governments). All this short-sighted greed is just creating a huge long-term problem.

Globally, the majority of us in "The West" ARE actually the 1% financial elite. The occupy movement is busy comparing the 1% elite in the richer countries with the poorer in those countries, which is of course a massive & growing problem. A much more significant problem, however, is globalization. The 2 main stats which prove this, are that anyone with an annual after-tax income of $34,000 (US) is in the top 1% globally. Anyone with an annual income of $500,000 is in the top 1% in America. Also, virtually half of the top 1% globally reside in the US.

While the middle classes in the poorer countries are indeed growing, & in the richer countries shrinking, the wages are still not even close to being similar (even using purchasing power parity). A middle class wage in India or China is around $1 to $2/hr., & in The West it's approx. $20/hr. Globally, the median annual income is only approx. $1,300. The sad reality is that our middle class wages are shrinking much farther & faster than emerging middle classes are rising. The difference, of course, is going into the pockets of the already uber-wealthy.

Another good example would be Mexico, a North American country with a shocking minimum wage of just under $5 PER DAY! About a third of the workforce are earning close to this wage (120 million population), & many are working in factories with extremely high productivity expectations. The min. wage in neighbouring US is just over $7 Per HOUR, with most manufacturing jobs typically paying much higher (so far).

This mainly explains why so many American jobs migrate there, & also why so many Mexican citizens desperately attempt to immigrate to the US. It also partially explains why the drug trafficing problem is getting so bad there, as drug dealers in Mexico make far more than min. wage (& also seem to get far more respect on the streets). While Mexico does have a few billionaires & some wealthy elite, the wealth inequality is shockingly wide, & basically, people just accept it (or try to illegally cross into the US, which would explain America's obsession with the wall).

The sad dark reality is that if people had to choose between achieving world peace, eliminating extreme poverty, or having a billion bucks in the bank, the vast majority would choose the latter. It's no wonder the world's economy is so messed up. It's pretty ridiculous to demonize something that most people fantasize over, & this is despite the obvious fact that we can take none of it with us when we go. What people are really craving is the feeling of significance in this life, & extreme wealth is one of the most popular obsessions as a result.

In reality, the amount of personal wealth that it takes for a couple to retire comfortably in most of the richer countries, is only about half to $1 million if invested wisely (& in poorer countries much less). To retire with a reasonably flashy lifestyle would probably take around $5 million. Many of the world's top wealthy elite earn more than this in one day, and they're still obsessively pining away for more. Plenty is plenty, enough is enough. At this point, it's basically just a case of obsessive compulsive disorder more than anything else. Most societies around the world aren't quite seeing it this way yet, so they just label it greed.

As well, not all uber-wealthy individuals fall under this category, as it's extremely unfair to generalize all the way through this subject. There are in fact a few obscenely wealthy people in this world, who are in fact trying to do some extremely wonderful things (for the world) with much of their money. Some have philanthropic foundations in place to help them accomplish this very goal. It's a tricky subject, as we are all complex & unique individuals. It's also a fact that many of us want to (or need to) stay challenged throughout our entire life. To ask a person who is highly driven to just stand down, retire, relax & enjoy your money, is not really very fair either. Hobbies & projects are far more enjoyable when there's a grander sense of purpose attached to them.

There are many wealthy elite who pay serious lip service to trying to make the world a better place. Precious few however, actually follow through to making it their main priority in life. This is a sad reality, as it would definitely be a much more satisfying existence for these elite individuals, to experience the incredible good their wealth would do for pockets of our world, while they are still alive. Instead, most wait until after they're dead and buried, and while alive simply obsess about adding more bucks to their pile, for the vast majority of their time on this earth.

It seems to me, that what's really going on in the minds of many, is a strong belief that a cure for aging may occur in their lifetime. Otherwise, what would be the point of the obsession? It just goes to show how even the most successful and wealthy in this life, are still a little fucked up (when you really stop and think about it). This should actually make us all feel a little better about life, since what it means, is that we really are all in this together.