The ultra-rich versus the poor

The quality of live has improved markedly for many around the world over the last century or two, but there are growing concerns about how the rich keep getting a hell of a lot richer.

This does sound alarming, and in a way it is, but how much does it matter?

Do the ultra rich deprive poorer people of quality of life? perhaps, if they sell drugs or brainwash people into living unhealthy lifestyles.

Monetary wealth is only one thing of importance, and the majority of us place more importance in other things, like family and quality of life.

How much does it matter to me that Gates, Buffet, Bezos or Zuckerberg are stinking rich? Close to zero on a personal level.

If the super rich get 50% richer, and the poorest get 10% more well off, who benefits the most? For the rich it’s just numbers, for the poor it can be quality of life changing, and even life or death.

Who do I respect the most, some making billions of dollars on the latest technology whim, or someone working bloody hard to provide a decent life for their family? There’s an easy answer to that.

60 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  December 31, 2017

    Respect doesn’t pay the. .bills.

    • PDB

       /  December 31, 2017

      Which is the whole point you have missed – this is simply about worrying what the richest get in proportion to what the poorest get rather than if the poorest live comfortably enough to easily ‘pay the bills’ or not.

  2. Corky

     /  December 31, 2017

    ”Who do I respect the most, someone making billions of dollars on the latest technology whim, or someone working bloody hard to provide a decent life for their family? There’s an easy answer to that.”

    For me its an easy answer, too…I can respect both..provided both are honest. I know criminals( admittedly, not many) who work hard for their families and are family oriented.

  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  December 31, 2017

    Equality is an illusion. We are not and never will be equal.

    What matters is opportunity. The vast majority get every opportunity to succeed in NZ. Most take it.

    Of the rest some, a very small number, will never make it as they consistently choose poorly. And will always do so… not a lot you can do for them in truth..

    A small number will struggle through ill fortune. We have Healthcare, ACC ti address ill fortune of the physical kind.

    We look after both these groups via our social welfare system. Encouraging them, as the Left do as per the quoted tweet, to envy others is nothing more than agitation to gain political power. Envy leads to hate and hate leads to violence… and Envy merchants use those negative emotions to gain power.

    If Helen Clark is so concerned she should cash up her asset base, I hear she has got quite wealthy via her earnings on the public payroll, buy a cheap 2 bed room home in a working class suburb to live in and give her wealth away to those she considers needy….

    But she wont… because most Left wing politicians and theoriticans talk a good equality game but dont live it. There is a name for that type of behaviour…

    • Blazer

       /  December 31, 2017

      If as you say we are not and will never be equal. .you defeat your own argument. ..equal opportunity is..also an..illusion.

      • Corky

         /  December 31, 2017

        No,the socialist belief life should be fair for all is the illusion.

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  December 31, 2017

        You are lost Blazer somewhete down a deep dark back passageway….

        My argument never mentioned equal opportunity… diversion and misrepresentation from you are ever constant tactics

        • Blazer

           /  December 31, 2017

          You can’t understand what you wrote. .’what matters is opportunity. …etc…you then equate ‘success ‘with. .opportunity. You are. .clueless.

          • Trevors_elbow

             /  December 31, 2017

            No you are wrong and won’t admit it well quelle surprise!

            I never used equal opportunity. Man or woman up for once and say you got it wrong…

            I said “The vast majority get every opportunity to succeed in NZ. Most take it.” Nothing about equality of opportunity

            So I am not “clueless” you are a liar….

            • Blazer

               /  December 31, 2017

              You can’t read. .that is very. .clear..lightweight.

            • Treat people equally do we? Surely you, if anyone can, understand the difficulty of extending the same opportunity to one and all. Imagine the larger scale of such a phenomenon guided by your own experiences as an individual on this forum.

              Case rests.

          • Trevors_elbow

             /  January 1, 2018

            Fuck off dick head….

    • Chuck Bird

       /  December 31, 2017

      Would the second bedroom be for Peter?

  4. Ray

     /  December 31, 2017

    Can’t take Miss Clark thoughts on this seriously.
    This is a women who has been living high on the hog at the UN with a non taxed salary and a pension to follow.
    You have to walk the talk to have any semblance of authority on this.

    • Blazer

       /  December 31, 2017

      Except you don’t Ray. .the facts speak for. .themselves.

    • duperez

       /  December 31, 2017

      Notions of who can speak about what and hypocrisy abound currently. The Greens can’t speak on issues on global warming apparently if they ride in petrol or diesel powered cars or fly in aeroplanes.

      Clark can’t talk about the gap between rich and poor and what it all means because she is well paid.

      Can you see 2018 as the year where the only ones qualified to speak about crime are criminals?

    • Anyone that knows Ms Clarke will tell you she’s got the first dollar she ever earned.

      Where was her offering the tax to the poor that she might have paid on her massive UN salary? Never heard about it and one won’t. All about how to virtue signal using OPM

  5. adamsmith1922

     /  December 31, 2017

    Problem is that on analysis her argument makes no sense. She uses aggregated numbers with no context.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 31, 2017

      It would seem so. In comparison with some of the very rich people I know, I am a pauper. But the fact that they have all that money doesn’t affect me and make me poorer. I don’t envy them, they were ants while I was a grasshopper and now live a very nice life indeed. But that takes nothing from me.If someone has a Louis Vuitton handbag, it’s not depriving me of one even when I am sitting next to them with my Strandbags handbag 😀 It’s an old and specious argument.

      It also makes no mention of the fact that even if these people just put their money in the bank, it will be shared around in one sense.

    • duperez

       /  December 31, 2017

      I don’t know about such things but is it possible for a tweet to carry an economic treatise? Is it a place for real arguments and contexts?
      Or do those like Ms Clark use tweets for simple bits and pieces and leave the meaningful stuff in that format to those like President Trump?

  6. sorethumb

     /  December 31, 2017

    Immigration and tax breaks for investment in residential property are being cited as the underlying causes of steep increases in the cost of housing over the past decade.

    New Zealand now boasts one of the highest rates of home unaffordability in the world as a result of prices rising far faster than incomes, and the government’s Savings Working Group blames that squarely on the policies of successive governments.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

    Noelle McCarthy
    Jim Bloger was prime minister from 1990 to1997.
    “Do you see NZ First and Winston Peters as playing in that same political space as figures like Donald trump and Nigel Farage?”

    Jim Bolger
    Broadly the same space but Winston has done that many times before so he’s not following them but the same space. And ah there were always a percentage of society who will follow that because it explains their own inadequacies often, that they haven’t been sucessful, so blame someone else based on identifying some definable group by religion, by ethnicity by colour, by nationality, and you blame them and that is, to my mind an apalling on those who do it but on any society that would accept that as a reason to change policies.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/programmes/slice-of-heaven/story/201851603/slice-of-heaven-tensions

  7. Zedd

     /  December 31, 2017

    Some folks still believe that we should still live by the ‘Law of the Jungle’ everyone for themselves.. BUT I heard we had move beyond that when our ancestors climbed out of the trees & started walking upright ? One race; ‘The Human Race’ 🙂

  8. duperez

     /  December 31, 2017

    If the super rich get richer they get a new $100 million super yacht built. That means someone has to be employed. At the bottom end that might mean some on the minimum wage doing some crap job, which however crap, is essential. The pay might be such that they can’t afford the market rent so have to get welfare handouts such as an accomodation supplement. That’s how it works.

    • sorethumb

       /  December 31, 2017

      The super rich and not so super rich lobby for more migration lowering the marginal product of each additional worker. Kerry McDonald calls it “a national disaster”

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 31, 2017

        I only know one billionaire, and he made it all himself-he is a brilliantly clever man who began with Bill Gates then went out on his own. He is from a middle-class family of professionals, so didn’t have a start with family money except possibly going to university. He enjoys his money but doesn’t squander it. He still likes to get value for money. But he gives generously, too.

  9. David

     /  December 31, 2017

    Helen is using nonsense figures. According to her, this is the poorest man in the world….

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/meet-the-most-indebted-man-in-the-world/264413/

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 31, 2017

      She said nothing about this man. Don’t put words in her mouth.

      • David

         /  December 31, 2017

        She absolutely is.

        “Poorest 3.5 billion adults have 2.7 % of global wealth”

        The only way you can calculate the ‘poorest’ 3.5 bn at this level is to include all the debts. That means the poorest people in the world are mostly American, are mostly highly educated graduates with large student debts.

        The link to the Guardian uses the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook as it’s source, and that exactly what it does. The numbers are telling, it lists 28.8% of adults in the US as having less than $10,000, for Australia it’s 5%. It does not take a genius to understand the difference is they are using debt in the aggregate.

        One of it’s tables claims the USA contains 10.88% of the worlds poorest people, while India has 21.75%. (page 121).

        So, yes, that is what she is saying.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 31, 2017

          Yes, but people can be poor and debt-free. That is a very limited way of judging it.

          Americans may go to university, but my impression is that their education is in many cases limited. A friend is a tutor at NYU and is constantly taken aback by the ignorance of the students there. Their degree system is quite odd.

          • David

             /  December 31, 2017

            “Yes, but people can be poor and debt-free. That is a very limited way of judging it.”

            The document Helen is reference does not reflect this, it measures poverty as simply a cash balance, the more debt you have, the poorer you are. The poorest group are Wall Street bankers who spend all their money on coke and hookers and who have large student debts.

            “Americans may go to university, but my impression is that their education is in many cases limited. A friend is a tutor at NYU and is constantly taken aback by the ignorance of the students there. Their degree system is quite odd.”

            Tutors at US universities are overpaid then aren’t they.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 1, 2018

              V isn’t, they are lucky to have this brilliant young man (he is Indian, not American and is doing his own PhD)

              How on earth do you know that the Wall St bankers are like that ? I’d say that a coke-head would be out of a job fairly soon, no company wants someone with an addled brain working for them.

              Someone could be living in dire poverty and have no debts-like the ones who have to go to rubbish dumps in some countries or beg on the streets for food.

              It’s ridiculous to compare someone who has a roof over their head and enough to eat and enough clothes to wear with someone who’s living under a piece of corrugated iron.

  10. David

     /  December 31, 2017

    Just to add, as a simple test;

    If the 500 wealthiest people in the world had their wealth half’ed overnight, how much better would the lives of those poorest 3.5 billion people?

    If the answer is ‘not any’, how much of a problem is this really?

    • sorethumb

       /  December 31, 2017

      It is a problem if the super rich influence policy in their favour.

      • David

         /  December 31, 2017

        Same question applies, if the ‘super rich’ have their wealth half over night, do they have more or less influence?

        Do you think, say, mark zuckerberg, has any more or less influence if he is worth $1bn or $100bn?

        • Gezza

           /  December 31, 2017

          Interesting question. My guess would be he’d have more influence in the US if he had $100bn. Over there so many people are excessively impressed by BIG. Big money. Big Star. Kim kardashian’s botty. Big lies. Big idiots. That sort of thing?

          • Gezza

             /  December 31, 2017

            🙄 Forgot the obvious one – big donations. 😐

          • David

             /  December 31, 2017

            Do you really think zuckerberg’s influence has anything to do with how much Facebook is valued at? You do realise none of these people actually have $100bn, or even $1bn don’t you?

          • Gezza

             /  December 31, 2017

            Net worth US$74b & counting, it seems. I don’t think he has US$74b in the bank. I have no idea how much any of them have actually got. How much have some of them actually got?

            • David

               /  December 31, 2017

              “I don’t think he has US$74b in the bank.”

              He will have very little in the bank, his wealth is entirely based on his ownership of a company that has risen in value. This is true of the vast majority of these ‘super rich’.

            • Gezza

               /  December 31, 2017

              Yeah, I reckon. When they fork out donations to charities and political candidates where do you reckon their cash comes from?

            • David

               /  December 31, 2017

              Do you want me to speculate on a specific person, or just comment on it being the same for every single rich person?

            • Gezza

               /  December 31, 2017

              Speculate on a specific person please.

            • David

               /  December 31, 2017

              Well, zuckerberg’s paycheck is $1, so any money he uses will be either from him selling part of his ownership of Facebook, or as a loan secured against that ownership. Facebook does not pay a dividend, or at least, has not to date.

              People from the ‘older’ generation of wealth, say the Koch’s, have much larger cash reserves, they get both significant salaries and big dividend payments. That’s a major reason why the Koch’s donate a far greater amount of actual cash to various causes.

            • Gezza

               /  December 31, 2017

              Yes. So his wealth might be in ownership of Facebook, but it’s as good as money in the bank & can be converted to money in the bank.

            • David

               /  January 1, 2018

              It’s not as good as money in the bank. If he tried to sell the thing, the price would fall significantly. This is the whole fallacy of the argument.

            • Gezza

               /  January 1, 2018

              Well, maybe not. It might improve it enormously?

        • Blazer

           /  December 31, 2017

          Much less. .because logically the people with the balance. .become influential. .as..well.

  11. Kitty Catkin

     /  December 31, 2017

    I heard from the man who was in charge of whatever Solid Energy was called in the 90s that when a mine was closed and the workers had really good redundancy payouts, some used them to buy houses-small town, cheap houses-or pay off the mortgage and make themselves mortgage free for life. Others spent the money on overseas holidays and such things…and are probably still renting. The ones who paid the mortgage will have had those things and a house as well.

    It’s people’s own decision, of course, and there have always been both these types.

  12. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 31, 2017

    It’s a brain-dead stupid comparison as I’ve noted before. It does Ms Clark no credit at all. The wealth of the richest is the value of the companies they have built and their investments in them employ thousands and serve millions. Only a malevolent idiot would think it reasonable to compare them to the folk who are content just to support themselves and their family. Unfortunately there are many malevolent idiots in the world and politics and media attract them.

    • Blazer

       /  December 31, 2017

      Someone who clearly has no idea about capital.

    • Blazer

       /  January 1, 2018

      you only have to look at someone like Kim Kardashian…to see Al knows what he is talking about…’. The wealth of the richest is the value of the companies they have built and their investments in them employ thousands and serve millions’