Tuesday, January 1, 2013

on sharing the world's wealth and income, part 1

• What is wealth?

The word's Middle English, from the 13th century: welthe, from wele. Welfare comes from wele, too; wel faren means "fare well." To "have wealth" is to be well, happy and healthy and untroubled by need.

At least, that's what it should be. What it is for greedy people is the financial value of all they own.

• Is there enough for everyone?

Food and Water: Enough for Everyone?
...we grow enough to give each person 3,500 calories a day, more than most people need, depending on how active they are. Even many developing nations produce more than enough food for their people. Yet, three-quarters of the youngest (0-5 years) victims of hunger live in countries with food surpluses.
World Bank’s 2007 World Development Indicators (pdf)
Globally, there is more than enough water for domestic purposes, for agriculture, and for industry. But access to water is very uneven across and within countries. Poor people have limited access, not so much because of physical water scarcity, but because of their lack of purchasing power and because of inappropriate policies that limit their access to infrastructure.
• If we shared the world's wealth

Working Group on Extreme Inequality » The Difference More Global Equality Could Make:
The world’s 4.4 billion adults, notes the new Credit Suisse research, now hold $194.5 trillion in wealth. That’s enough, if shared evenly across the globe, to guarantee every adult in the world a $43,800 net worth.

...The world’s richest 1 percent, adults with at least $588,000 to call their own, hold 43 percent of the world’s wealth, all by themselves.

...if you live in a society with a robust safety net — a nation that boasts “good public health care, high quality public education, generous state pensions,” and the like — the size of your personal fortune matters considerably less.

Everyday people in the United States — a society with a inadequate social safety net — need, this Credit Suisse insight suggests, more personal net worth than everyday people who live in nations with healthier social service networks. But everyday people in many nations with stronger social safety nets than the United States are actually holding more net worth than their American counterparts.

Consider Canada, a nation with national public health insurance. Credit Suisse calculates the 2010 median wealth in Canada — the wealth of the typical Canadian family — at $94,700, about double the $47,771 U.S. median net worth. 
Global wealth

• If we shared the world's income

If we shared the world's income, according to World economy, every person would get $10,500 per year.

• If we shared both

A two-adult household would have a net worth of $87,600 and get $20,500 a year. Each child would bring in another $10,500 per year. Assume universal health care and good public transportation, and life would be sweet.

• Bonus facts about wealth

From Who Rules America: Wealth, Income, and Power
As of 2004, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.3% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.3%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.2%.
From Too Much weekly
Back in the late 1960s...women made up nearly half of America’s richest 0.01 percent. Their share has now dropped to one third. The prime reason? With the explosion of pay at the top of the corporate ladder, executives can now “work” their way into the ranks of America’s richest. In the process, points out the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, “the older road of direct inheritance has accordingly been superseded.” Adds the Center: “Until women crack the uppermost echelons of the labor market, we can therefore expect gender inequality in wealth to persist.”