What does wealth look like to you? Is it a hundred dollars?
A thousand dollars? A million dollars? We can always go higher. But how much is too much?
In today’s world, the richest 1% of the population owns almost half of the world’s wealth. Does that seem right to you?
Well, let’s even the playing field and see what we get. According to Forbes business magazine, the top 10 richest people in the world own a combined $745 billion in wealth.
That’s more money than most countries produce in goods and services every year! And studies show that the divide is only getting bigger.
But what if we took all the world’s cash, investments, assets, et cetera, sold them, and gave every person in the world an equal share? Would we be a healthier, happier society?
We can wage a war on poverty, but, can humans win against greed? If you liquidated all of the world’s productive assets and combined them with all the money in the global economy, you’d be looking at a huge pile of cash.
Roughly $250 trillion US dollars. In fact, that’s so much money, that if you stacked that $250 trillion in 100 dollar bills, it would stretch more than half way to the moon!
But how far would this money get you, and everyone else in the world, if it was divided equally? Well, take $250 trillion and divide it between the current world population of 7.7 billion, and everyone is worth about $32,500. Feeling short-changed?
Dont. Roughly 75% of the world population lives on less than that every year.
The equal distribution of the world’s wealth would certainly give a lot of people a much needed leg-up. Those living in extreme poverty and lower-income households could afford more food, water, clothing, shelter, and other necessities that some of us take for granted.
But how long would these opportunities last? In a world of 7.7 billion people who are motivated by different things, and who have different skillsets, perhaps not long at all.
The first big hurdle would be financial education. In order to keep relative wealth equality, people would have to be smart with their money. Now, that doesn’t mean cut out all entertainment and stick to the bare necessities, but, don’t do this.
We also have to wonder what would happen to the quality of goods and services in a world where everyone makes the same, and there’s no incentive to innovate or work harder. Without strict regulations, you can imagine how this egalitarian society could revert to one very much like our own.
The world is full of entrepreneurs, people who are looking to make a buck, or who simply want to make a positive contribution to society. So you can see how these people might invest their share of the world’s loot into new ideas. They could convince others that the product of their ideas is worth paying for. And if enough people buy into it, once again, the market will give rise to millionaires, billionaires, and huge corporations.
In short, some people will use their share to become very rich, while others may fall back into poverty due to lack of education, or perhaps unforseen circumstances like an illness, or a natural disaster. But despite a resurgence of an economic divide, there’s still hope in this scenario.
Universal basic income projects have been tested across the world to generally favorable results. While some studies revealed that, when guaranteed a lump sum of money every year, work effort decreased, they also showed that universal basic income increased school attendance, reduced medical costs in mental health cases, and was not squandered on luxury goods.
Universal basic income isn’t a new idea, but we’re still learning how to make it work effectively. Naturally, a perfect world, where everyone has the same amount of money isn’t feasible; but that doesn’t mean we can’t ensure everyone gets enough food, water, clothing, and shelter.
If you want more than that, you’re gonna have to work for it. Learn how to be smart with your money, manage it well, live within your means, and keep an eye out for good opportunities. Are you waiting for that billion dollar idea to pop into your head?
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- “What Could You Buy With $241 Trillion? – Wait But Why”. Urban, Tim, 2014. Wait But Why. Accessed January 9 2019.
- “What If All Monetary Wealth On Earth Was Equally Distributed Among All People”. Worldbuilding Stack Exchange. Accessed January 9 2019.
- “What Would Happen If We Redistribute Wealth Equally To Everyone?”. 2015. Ready To Be Rich. Accessed January 9 2019.
- “Global Inequality – Inequality.Org”. 2019. inequality.org. Accessed January 9 2019.
- “Just Nine Of The World’s Richest Men Have More Combined Wealth Than The Poorest 4 Billion People”. Jacobs, Sarah, 2018. The Independent. Accessed January 9 2019.
- “Basic Income Pilots”. 2017. en.wikipedia.org. Accessed January 9 2019.