When people talk about “the 1 percent,” it’s often hard to visualize just what that means. Is your cousin that has two four wheelers in the 1 percent? Is your orthopedic surgeon in the 1 percent? Is Donald Trump in the 1 percent?
Here’s a pretty good way to look at it: According to Oxfam, there are only 62 people in the world — 53 of them men — whose combined wealth is the same as the combined wealth of half of our global population (which is over seven billion people.) So by their math, one full greyhound bus of dudes has more money than everyone in China, India, and the U.S. combined.
Global wealth has fallen in 41 percent in the past five years, while that top 1 percent has gotten half a trillion dollars richer. Here’s what half a trillion dollars can buy:
- literally anything
- even spaceships don’t cost a half a trillion dollars
- the entire NASA space shuttle program didn’t even cost half a trillion dollars
- the most expensive cheeseburger in the world is $5000
- so that would buy 100 million $5000 cheeseburgers
It’s fair to say then, since most of the wealth amassed in the past half decade has shot straight to the same 62 people, that perhaps trickle-down economics needs to be laid to rest. Because over $7.6 trillion sits in offshore accounts, which robs local governments of $190 billion in taxes.
Here’s what $190 billion could buy:
- nearly the entire NASA space shuttle program
- 38 million $5000 cheeseburgers
The catch to Oxfam’s numbers (not my numbers — my cheeseburger figures are rock solid) is that they use net worth to make calculations. So your total assets minus your debt equals your net worth — meaning if you have a full time job but credit card debt or a mortgage or a car loan or student debt, you’re classed as less wealthy than someone who makes $2 a day, but has no debt at all.
That’s perhaps a silly way to calculate value, according to critics. Two dollars can’t buy very many cheeseburgers at all. Certainly the very wealthy are able to afford at least three cheeseburgers a day.