You personally have more wealth than the bottom 1.7 billion combined

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.

The credit suisse report was based on the work of James Davies and Anthony Shorrocks.

In 2009 on the Davies and Shorrocks papers notes, wealth of US$8,635 was needed to be in the top half of the global distribution, and US$518,364 to be in the top one per cent globally.

They had a presentation to the World Forum in 2012.

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.

The bottom 20-25% of US households have negative net worth

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.

The World Bank has made this an objective as well.

Oxfam has generally not been promoting the solutions that will actually work to lift people out of poverty.

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.

Nextbigfuture also has an article about how Bill Gates is the Ultimate Robin Hood who has done more to help the bottom 50% than 100 Oxfams.