The Oxfam Poverty and Wealth report has been getting a lot of coverage for a fact that it states that the top 85 billionaires have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the world. They also spin it with “working for the few”. They imply that the rich are making the poor work for them. The vast majority of the billionaires do not employ the poor. The Google guys employ about 80,000 well paid [in terms of upper middle class salaries and a thousand or more who have good stock options.] Bill Gates had employed a few hundred thousand and Microsoft. The poor were there before either company existed. Go back a few hundred years and pretty much everyone is poor.
Bill Gates has predicted that there will be almost no poor countries by 2035. A few countries will be held back by war and politics, Gates said, citing North Korea, or geography, such as landlocked nations in central Africa. Still, he predicts that more than 70 percent of countries will have a higher per-person income than China now, and almost 90 percent of nations will be above today’s India.
Global household wealth in mid-2012 totaled $223 trillion.
So -0.2% is -$446 billion (total collective wealth of the bottom 10%, the bottom 720 billion)
-0.1% is -$223 billion (total collective wealth of the bottom 20%, the bottom 1.44 billion)
0.0 (total collective wealth of the bottom 25%, the bottom 1.8 billion)
The bottom 20% have negative wealth. The -0.2% of the bottom 10% is more than the +0.1% of the next 10%. It takes getting to the collective bottom 25% (the bottom 1.76 billion) to get to a combined net worth of zero. Not even the poorest person has negative $230 billion net worth. The poorest person might be a fallen billionaire (maybe Eike Batiste who racks up huge losses but cannot get to -5 billion, but then they are forced into bankruptcy. The bottom 1.5 billion who have a -$170 billion or so collectively.
Oxfam has the wrong message
Bill Gates correctly points out :
Almost all countries will be what are now called lower-middle income or richer by 2035, Gates said in the letter. They will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations such as new vaccines, better seeds and the digital revolution, he said.
“The belief that the world is getting worse, that we can’t solve extreme poverty and disease, isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful,” Gates wrote. “By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. In two decades it will be better still.”
Nextbigfuture has noted that extreme poverty could be eliminated by 2025.
Some other observations
5 million people in Norway share in an $830 billion fund built from oil revenues. If Governments manage to a surplus then assets could be accumulated for a country instead of debt. Everyone in Norway has a $160,000 cut of the fund.
The Norway fund is equal to about the top 85 billionaires wealth.
The Swiss average out to being the wealthiest in the world and are close to becoming US dollar millionaires on average.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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