Charlie Stross goes on a tear with "A cultural thought experiment," looking at what the wealth of the 1 percent means, what it can't buy them, and how it might be viewed from a future society.
The diminishing marginal utility law dictates that the more money we have, the less utility we get from any additional incremental gain. And this bites the top 1% very hard indeed.
Examine the world around us from the point of view of someone with a net income of $5M/year ...
Food is essentially free; you can afford to spend $1000 per meal, three meals a day, in the most expensive restaurants in London or Tokyo or Manhattan, and not make a dent in your income. (Oddly, even the hyper-rich don't typically spend $1000 on lunch every day: a more realistic expectation might be to dine out expensively twice a week, for $100K/year, and have the best of everything in-house the rest of the time, with a live-in chef, for another $100K/year.)
Clothing is essentially free; want a different $5000 suit for every day of the week? That's going to set you back only $35K! Spouse wants a dozen designer evening gowns a year? That's still going to be on the low side of $200K.
Housing is essentially free; $1000/day will rent you a penthouse suite in a five star hotel in Manhattan, while your mortgageable income will let you buy a palace in the $5-20M range. (There are places where you may need to spend more than $20M to buy a house; but not many of them.)
You don't have to do housework, interior decorating, cooking, driving, DIY home improvements, flight booking, or shopping (unless you want to). People can be hired to do any of the above for rates ranging from $15K to $100K per year, depending on the complexity of the job. And you earn $100K per week.
(Image: Wanted Poster at Holburn Station (London, UK), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from takomabibelot's photostream)
Convicted election fraudster and public education opponent Betsy Devos made her billions through hard work — really, you can’t overstate the effort required to emerge from the loins of someone who married a rich guy, nor the work of later marrying someone else who emerged from the loins someone who married a rich guy.
In case you were wondering why Bitcoin experienced a crazy spike recently: China’s economy is a hyperinflated bubble, poised to burst and the Chinese central bank is depreciating the Renminbi — so China’s wealthy are getting their cash out of the country as fast as they can, using any means necessary: suing themselves, spending huge […]
Thomas “Capital in the 21st Century” Piketty endorses the World Wealth and Income Database, where you will find “open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the global distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries” in English, with upcoming translations in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic […]
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