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Thread: Richest people in the world 1990-2020

  1. #11
    Actually Molasses Baldanders's Avatar
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    The problem with concentration of wealth isn't the $2000 or so that we would all get if we redistributed the wealth of the richest to the rest of us.

    The problem is that with an ever-smaller percentage of people controlling most of the $$ in the nation, the very structure of the economy and politics are in the hands of fewer and fewer people, resulting in an overall society that is skewed increasingly towards the aims and desires of a very small percentage of its members.

    (Don't give me that Thatcherite crap about "there is no society." By her dippy logic, the atmosphere doesn't exist; there are only gas molecules and dust particles.)

    Plutonomy sucks. And contrary to popular American opinion, the existence of megawealthy people doesn't show that "anyone can make it." Germany, for instance, is a far easier country to scrabble your way from poverty to the middle class than the USA. We are the best country to create a business in, but that doesn't translate to best economy to better your economic situation in.

    But we love to worship the rich. Why does anyone think Bill Gates has solutions for education? His attempt at a "model school" was an utter failure that required much revision to be just "OK."

    It's no wonder youngins in nations like ours have increasingly less faith in capitalism and democracy.

    We need to end this new Glided Age like we did the last one. (A process that helped us become the superpower we are now, IMO)

    If you are retired and think "well I made it!" realize you made it in a system where risk and cost hadn't been so heavily shifted to from the top to the bottom.

    Or keep olding and bitch about the poor eating your lunch and how everyone to your left is a Bolshevik. Keep plutonomy working!

    ETA: a vote for either mainstream candidate is equally a vote for plutonomy, IMO.
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  2. #12
    Site Supporter 0ddl0t's Avatar
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    Buffett's dad was a congressman, so he was well off growing up, but it is hard to say Buffett didn't make his own way. He bought his first stock at age 11 and by age 16 had built a small pinball machine empire worth $6,000. Sure, he would have had a much harder time doing that if he didn't come from some money, but he definitely put in his own work... He was worth $140,000 in 1956 (equivalent to about $1.3 million today) when he left a very high paying Wall St job to start his own hedge fund in Nebraska. By age 30 he had turned that into $1 million (worth $9 million today). Aside from a few dips during major market turmoil, he steadily grew that to tens of billions today.

    His partner, Charlie Munger, actually had a better investment record but Munger has been giving away his fortune along the way (Buffett has pledged to give away 99% but has only in the last 10-15 years starting making major donations).

    What most people don't seem to realize is that Buffett's money (or Gates or Bezos) isn't sitting in cash in some bank vault somewhere for him to swim in like Scrooge McDuck - his net worth comes from the value of the portions of companies he owns. Those companies have such high value in large part because Buffett (or Gates or Bezos) owns and tends to them. If you were to steal those stock shares and give them to the ignorant poor, the companies would soon crumble and you'd be destroying wealth.

  3. #13
    Accused M&P Cultist Joe in PNG's Avatar
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    It doesn't matter what you do, but you will wind up with either Aristocrats, Rich People, or Nomenklatura on the top of the pile.

    Of the three, I'll take the Rich People, as it works out a lot better for everyone. It's not perfect, but trying to make perfect usually results in a whole lot of dead people and a whole lot less perfect than you had to begin with.
    "You win 100% of the fights you avoid. If you're not there when it happens, you don't lose." - William Aprill
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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JTQ View Post
    You're saying if Bill Gates hadn't created Microsoft, had his family just skipped a few lattes every now and then, while he wouldn't have ended up at number one on the list, but maybe they'd be in the Top 10?


    There is a pretty substantial distance between "upper middle class" and billionaire.
    Gate's dad was a lawyer. His grandfather was either an investment banker or a senior manager at an investment bank. They had money. Low millions probably. The "upper middle class" bit is a quip, based largely on rich people not thinking they're rich.

    The old saw about Silicon Valley billionaires starting a scrappy little company in their garage is a puppet show. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard and he wasn't there on a need-based scholarship.

    All these tech billionaires you pointed out came from money. Their parents weren't billionaires but it is a lot easier to take the risk of founding your own company when failure won't leave you destitute like it would most Americans.

    Somebody else will come up with some great idea and make a bunch of money on his/her great idea.
    And that somebody will be very likely to have the benefit of a wealthy family to fall back on if it fails. Which most great idea companies do.

  5. #15
    Moderator BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jh9 View Post
    Gate's dad was a lawyer. His grandfather was either an investment banker or a senior manager at an investment bank. They had money. Low millions probably. The "upper middle class" bit is a quip, based largely on rich people not thinking they're rich.
    More then money, they had access. Bill Gates had access to computer time when that was a really rare thing to have access to. No doubt he's a smart and driven guy, but his success has strong roots in right place, right time, right resources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by UNM1136 View Post
    Maybe with talented students I would lube up with baby oil and then go at it.

  6. #16
    You really need to start by defining “rich.” My definition of rich is all the 9mm ammo you want, and the time and health to shoot it. Not sure I saw anyone on the OP list, that meets those criteria.
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  7. #17
    Depressed DINK TGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJM View Post
    You really need to start by defining “rich.” My definition of rich is all the 9mm ammo you want, and the time and health to shoot it. Not sure I saw anyone on the OP list, that meets those criteria.
    Some surveys show that Americans in most cities consider an annual income of $100-$120k/year to be rich. I think that's fairly ridiculous, and I'm not sure how valid those surveys are, or if they only polled people making minimum wage. Actually, that's not a fairly ridiculous take......it's utterly ridiculous.

    Having not done any hard research on socio-economics, I would consider "rich" to be a consistent annual income greater than $175k. Up that quite a bit for people living in NYC or most of California, where $175k/year gives you a lifestyle comparable to upper middle-class in most of the US. I'd usually reserve applying the term "rich" to the independently wealthy, however.
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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TGS View Post
    Some surveys show that Americans in most cities consider an annual income of $100-$120k/year to be rich. I think that's fairly ridiculous, and I'm not sure how valid those surveys are, or if they only polled people making minimum wage. Actually, that's not a fairly ridiculous take......it's utterly ridiculous.

    Having not done any hard research on socio-economics, I would consider "rich" to be a consistent annual income greater than $175k. Up that quite a bit for people living in NYC or most of California, where $175k/year gives you a lifestyle comparable to upper middle-class in most of the US.
    Income vs accrued wealth muddies the waters a bit. As does individual vs household income.

    I'd think being a "millionaire" qualifies as rich for most folks.

    $1,000,000 with a safe withdrawal rate of 4% nets you $40,000/yr to live on without working. If you're under 65 and don't qualify for medicare health insurance is going to make a dent in that. Possibly offset by owning your own home outright, but that's going to raise your net worth by at least another six figures. And at that level of wealth you can basically afford to live a lifestyle that, while comfortable, isn't baller. So without maintaining a high income to go along with it, that doesn't seem "rich". Even if you are, technically, a millionaire. It just makes you...retired without a pension.

    This kind of tracks with what you're saying re: income. Scroll to the 2nd to last table. In 2020, individual (not household) income of $2,383 per week or $123,916 per year puts you in the top 10%. Narrowing down educational attainment raises that a fair bit, but if you're going heads up among all workers age 16 and over that's the threshold for being in the proverbial "top 10%".

    Cost of living changes things as far as lifestyle goes, but if you have a pair of DINKs (or even a SINK) in that income bracket you can basically afford to live in almost any city in the US, go out several times per week, have relatively nice homes/cars, casually ignore the price of things in the grocery store, fly business class, etc... All without carrying any debt. That's well to do, but rich?

    You're not chartering a private jet. You're not buying a Ferrari. You're probably still not going to Michelin star restaurants often and paying a few hundreds dollars a plate. You're going to be struggling like anyone else if you're buying real estate in some markets, even if the property still looks middle class instead of palatial. Most brokerage firms won't have a dedicated customer support representative for you. You're not on a first name basis with your Senator. Etc.

    So is that "rich"? I'd probably say yes to all of the above. Because to someone with a retirement plan of "work until you die or qualify for social security" and no prospects for cracking $20/hr even the simple luxuries above are damn nice. Even if Robin Leach isn't narrating your life and you don't meet the Chris Rock definition of wealthy.

    But that leads into the wealth gap issue. Because a millionaire may or may not be rich depending on how you argue it, but a 10x millionaire generating an annual income (4% SWR) of $400,000 a year might as well live on a different planet. What do you call someone that can literally piss away nearly half a million dollars a year and still not touch their principal? If you're a Gates or Walton, you'd call them poor. Which starts to drive home just how different the lifestyle and world is for someone who's "rich" versus someone who is wealthy.

    edit: I pasted the wrong link above. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf
    Last edited by jh9; 10-23-2020 at 10:59 AM.

  9. #19
    ...it tolls for thee blues's Avatar
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    FWIW, I hardly think one million dollars, (not income, but assets not including one's primary home), constitutes being "rich" in the USA. It can be considered, perhaps, upper middle class, in my opinion...but I think there's plenty of latitude for argument there as well.

    In my opinion, "rich" is being content with what you have while being able to live comfortably within those parameters without going into debt or over taxing one's investments. But I like to keep things simple.
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  10. #20
    Site Supporter 0ddl0t's Avatar
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    A public school teacher in California who started work at 25 and retired after 30 @ 55 has a pension with a net present value exceeding $1 million. Patrol cops and firefighters, many able to retire at 50, have even higher net worths. And that's not including their health benefits... So while I think most people think of the idea of a "millionaire" as someone who is rich, they generally don't think of actual "millionaire next door" types as rich...

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