Crosspost: Wealth and Power in Perspective

[pullquote]The world’s four richest citizens — Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mukesh Ambani — have more in common with each other than they do with the bottom strata of their respective countries. Yes, they do handle their wealth differently. Gates and Buffett are giving most of it away, Ambani just built the world’s most expensive house, and Slim is somewhere in the middle. But all four can count on their home governments to take care of their needs first. Preserving that kind of social hierarchy is an unwritten assumption in deciding which solutions to the world’s problems arrive on the table and which do not. [/pullquote](Source)

Terrifying Fact of the Day.

The four richest men share a combined wealth bigger than that of the 57 poorest countries together.

Just to give an idea of the magnitude, I checked the Wikipedia page for the index of poorest countries. To measure this wealth, I used the gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita, that is, the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year divided by the average (or mid-year) population for the same year. To put it in layman terms, this index tells us the total money value of all final goods and services that are produced in an economy over a period of time.

This is the list of the 20 poorest ones (by decreasing order; meaning Zimbabwe is the poorest in the list), together with the population figures in millions. This gives us a combined population of 339.8 million people. I do not have the time to go through all 57 countries, but I believe this shortened list gives a good idea. The combined wealth of this four men, equals the combined production of these countries in a given year (population figures in millions next to each country):

  • Comoros 0.8
  • Madagascar 20.6
  • Guinea 10
  • Tokelau 1.4
  • Ethiopia 85.2
  • Malawi 15
  • Mozambique 22.8
  • Sierra Leone 6.4
  • Togo 6.6
  • Rwanda 10.7
  • Afghanistan 28.3
  • Central African Republic 4.4
  • Eritrea 5.2
  • Niger 15.3
  • Guinea-Bissau 1.6
  • Somalia 9.3
  • Liberia 3.9
  • Burundi 8.9
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the     70.9
  • Zimbabwe 12.5

Now, I would love for someone to come and tell me that privilege, as a concept to analyze socioeconomic facts and trends, does not exist.

One thought on “Crosspost: Wealth and Power in Perspective”

  1. You weren’t kidding about putting things into perspective.

    As someone who has always been in the USian lower-middle class, I have always wondered: what on earth do you do once you have made enough money to make your family comfortable and safe? How can you be happy when you have the fact that there are so many people you could help, but won’t, gnawing at you?

    TL;DR: What is the point of perpetually building wealth? (And, no, “to get richer” doesn’t count.)

    Sidenote: This is probably why I’m not fabulously wealthy.

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