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Wiping out Poverty?

I saw a tweet that read “knowing that world’s top 10 richest could wipe out poverty and not even notice the money’s gone sickens me.”

A very interesting idea, but is it true, and if not, how far off the mark is it? Business Insider recently wrote an article looking at the Forbes top 10 Billionaires –


Add them up and we have $451.5B. Nothing to sneeze at, but how much good would this money do? The site Global Rich List tells us that half the world’s people live on less than $850 per year. If we confiscate the entire wealth of these top ten, we can give each of the 3 billion people at the bottom $150 each. That won’t quite eliminate poverty, not by a longshot.

To be fair to the gal that tweeted this, the distribution of wealth in the US is highly concentrated. Data shows the top 1% own approximately 40% of all wealth in this country. That’s about $24 trillion. Divide this over 3 billion people and we have $8,000 per person. Now, that might be enough to change the lives of the world’s very poor, although it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

I’m sorry to say this is a problem for which I have no answers, not today.

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup March 22, 2013, 3:22 pm

    Thanks for breaking this down as it shows that the richest people cannot reduce poverty levels, even if they gave up all of their money. The rich could do more with their money instead of just build wealth for themselves just like Gates does with his foundations.

  • Financial Independence April 13, 2013, 5:10 am

    I think a lot of the net worth is fictious…let me explain..

    If you would try to sell $67 billion on Microsoft stock tomorrow it would crash it. It is even more truth with Zara, L’Oreal and LVMH.
    Nobody would buy it. It woud take years and years to sell them slowly (maybe it is what Bill is doing as we speak).

    The same if you would try to build anything – prices would go up through the roof and cost of the projects ballooned.

    The third reason poverty is there for many other reasons…if you would start paying triple amount of money for doing the same job – you, as individual, found quickly found yourself out of the money.

    For example, increase paycheck at car manufacturing, or pay more than a dollar a day for sewing clothes, etc…

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