Social Question

gagara's avatar

How can some individual people have greater financial worth than entire nations of millions?

Asked by gagara (102points) January 29th, 2010

I was wondering about a “philosophical” question of sorts, about the distribution of wealth in capitalist economy. We all hear about people with $10–100 billions wealth. That exceeds total net worth of some countries. How that squares with the common sense???

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

Zen_Again's avatar

I, um, don’t understand this question.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some people came up with some great ideas in the computer industry and their stock investments went through the roof. They then hired some very wise investment managers.

Some people were lucky and owned land that turned out to be rich in oil, and they have been able to hold the rest of the world hostage for their product.

Some people were lucky and they made wise investments using other people’s money. It was a win-win situation.

Some people were born to one of the world’s most forward looking retailer, and he spread the wealth among his offspring. They are all on the list of richest people in the world.

ETpro's avatar

Two words, wise investments. Truly dynastic, enormous wealth generally results from investing enough in politicians so that laws can be enacted to protect the accumulated wealth and make it tough for anyone to challenge the king of the mountain. Consider the house of Saud or the Rothschild family..

Ruallreb8ters's avatar

Countries have a net worth??

ETpro's avatar

@Ruallreb8ters Sure countries have assetts and they have liabilities.

belakyre's avatar

Not everyone can become a Bill Gates.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Many nations are either small by size or they have no exportable goods, not any the world really needs enough to pay premium prices. Take Somalia what exportable goods or crops do they have? I can’t name one. If they have anything they are shipping out it is suck low quantities or at such low price as to not add much to the bottom line.

Take the islands of Micronesia they don’t have minerals, oil, cattle or other live stock, they basically have fish (not done commercially, tropical fruit and coconuts; neither is had in industrial or agricultural quantities. If they export, say, 3% of the world/s coconut use that is not a large number.

And individual or company the supplies 60% of the world’s tunnel drilling equipment would make more than Micronesia because they would have more units or pieces of equipment sold then what all that tropical fruit sold.

Should Micronesia discover a fruit that clinically cut cancer in 70% of the people they would then have the potential to make a boat load of money because that fruit would be high in demand and high in price since there would be a limited supply that could be grown on the small islands if Micronesia.

wundayatta's avatar

Why the disparity in wealth in the world? Resources and competition and creativity and organizing abilities and luck. If you have a really good idea, and you can figure out how to attract and organize really smart people to work for you to enact this idea, then you can become enormously wealthy. There are billions of people without access to the resources and education needed to generate the other things.

Such inequities are just magnified with time. The further ahead you are at the start, the faster you can move ahead. The difference between the wealthiest and the poorest will always continue to grow. If you try to limit that difference, you might limit your ability to grow. You might say this is a good thing, but all it does is allow others to move faster, catch up, and pass you. The difference can never go away. The gap can only get larger.

galileogirl's avatar

How about the major bank CEOs and Haiti.

DrMC's avatar

@ETpro I do think some political and economic structures favor a wealth critical mass. Where the process of selecting products based cost, quality, supply, and demand factors become disrupted by accumulation of power. The Rothschilds are a good example, Saud another, also Bill gates. I am not convinced that these “occurrences” are good for the market or the people.

This critical mass effect is very bad in my book.

This fundamental flaw in our current design is band-aided with socialist “reforms” and in the us the constant bickering between left and right keeps it in some sort of balance.

Some day there may be a third way – although arguably the US is already using it.

Hitler and Mousselini believed they had a “third way” when they constructed fascism, which has nothing whatsoever to do with genocide. They just tacked on racial eugenics and xenophobia for their own brand.

It is up to the 21’st century to refine the third way or die trying.

By the way – I think that Microsoft is an example of monopolist power gone wrong. Not only is it harmful to the marketplace, but it holds back development.

gagara's avatar

Well all, first of all thanks for all the answers – they are great! Many though miss the point, which is not a biggie since it’s a little subtle in the wording. This is of course all true about great ideas, investment and reward – can subscribe to it myself no questions asked. But, let’s say, this person has $100 bil, and many people in the world live for $1 a day. That one person owns as much as 100 bil some other people; that’s roughly 20 times the entire world population,or 11 orders of magnitude disparity. How many of you think it is a bit excessive, uhm?

Trillian's avatar

@gagara You know, I read through the question and was going to leave it alone. I thought it was very courteous of everyone to answer you despite your awkward phraseology. But then you want to admonish people for “missing the point”? Are you serious? Let’s just break this down. Because I think what you wanted was for everyone to jump in and agree with your opinion. Which @wundayatta summed up quite nicely. by the way. You’re bemoaning the disparity of wealth. But look at how you worded your “question”.
“I was wondering about a “philosophical” question of sorts, about the distribution of wealth in capitalist economy. We all hear about people with $10–100 billions wealth. That exceeds total net worth of some countries. How that squares with the common sense???”
”$10–100 billions wealth.” What? What are billions wealth? Do you mean billions of dollars in wealth? Well, never mind that, the worst is your actual question, if you can call it that; “How that squares with the common sense?”
You need a verb. How does that square…AH wrong word. Square in the sense you’re using means- to align with. In this case, an idea or ideal. Your ideal, apparently. Your ideal of how the world should be. And “the common sense”. As if there were only one common sense. common sense not the common sense. And regardless, common sense has nothing to do with it. You may have meant something like; “How can some people have so much that they literally could not spend it all while others eke out a miserable existence one step away from starvation, disease, poverty?...etc.”
And you could cry this out to the cold, uncaring heavens and get no answer. Or you could ask a collective and suck it up that they understood your poorly phrased query and gave you a better bunch of answers than you deserved. Do not presume to tell people that they missed the point. They got your point despite your best efforts to the contrary.

lloydbird's avatar

Yes, there does seem to be something of obscene about the amounts that can be accumulated by ”..some individual people..” in a ” capitalist economy”.

ETpro's avatar

I am far from sold on the idea that capitalism is the only way to achieve growth, or even that it’s the best. We just haven’t come up with anything notably better yet. And the idea that great wealth continues to gather in dynastic hands for all of time is simply false—and I am thankful it is. If it were true, by now the descendants of King Tut would own all the wealth of the earth and the rest of us would all rely on them for handouts or starve. That obviously didn’t happen. The thought process required to believe that something like that becoming a reality would be a Good Thing boggles my mind.

America’s two wealthiest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are giving large parts of their fortunes away. They have seen the disparity in wealth and decided to do something about it. Warren Buffet commented that he wanted to leave his children ”...enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” A wise man in more ways than one.

The Rothschild family began amassing great wealth in the 17th century and is now worth somewhere around $1 trillion. They financed the great wars of Europe to profit from them Their money has worked for good but also for tremendous evil. That sort of dynastic wealth, the world would be better without.

gagara's avatar

well, thank everyone for their answers (again) – I do appreciate all the feedback! The “questions” in the title indeed gave my view of things, but that’s why it came here – to let other people say their word on the matter.

gagara's avatar

@Trillian – hahaha, I mean, seriously – get a life. If all you can say here is the stuff about wording, really, I can only pity you. I truly appreciate the feedback the people gave, but that’s not even the point. I simply tried to share something that startled me so much once I actually thought what 10^11 dollars actually means (aside from a number with 11 zeros), something you still don’t get it seems. So, seriously, why don’t you go and beat some kids in the playground instead of flaming some serious point to ponder about?

Coloma's avatar

It’s called compound interest & investment.

Many don’t realize that if you won, say 1 million in the lotto that in interest alone ( well..WHEN interest was at least 5% ) that the 1 million would generate about 40k or more a year in interest alone. Then interest earned on interest, on & on.

A few years back when my assets were peaking I was able to skim interest only from some of my investments and generate a very good passive income.

Those days are long gone now! lol

ItsAHabit's avatar

Success is largely dependent on making wise decisions. Period

Coloma's avatar

It is also paramount to remember that true happiness is not contingent of stuff, money, relationship status etc.

I have been on both sides of just about every fence there is and am blessed to embrace simplicity, and know that the true meaning of ‘wealth’ lies in the vault of ones ability to enjoy the simple pleasures that are free and abundant to everyone.

Good health, nature, pets, children, just appriciating the wonder of simply being alive and the appriciation of the essence of the moment, the wonder of merely having eyes to see the beauty.

Like everything, wealth and happiness is an inside job. ;-)

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther