Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The definition of "rich."

A blogger I'm just beginning to discover, Asymmetrical Information, has thoughts on that subject.

UPDATE:

If you click through AI's post, you get to an article by MP Dunleavey about the definition of rich. Which discusses, in part, the fear some of us have (especially egalitarian-minded women) of admitting that we really want to be really, really RICH according to standards set by contemporary society. "Really, I just want be comfortable." But, comfortable means a house with a garage on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a job doing "what I what" (read - working low stress 6 hours a day), and the ability to jet all over the world at whim.

Anyway, aside from that rant, there is an interesting link at the bottom of Dunleavey's article with a link to the "world wealth calculator" to let you know how wealthy you are, based on annual income, to the rest of the world.

9 Comments:

Blogger Amalie said...

But, of course, we can always find new things to worry about. By the standards of, say, 1920, every single one of us, even welfare mothers, is rich...

Yes, of course... if we all just sit and think back to 1920's standards.... those welfare mothers would take solace in their cable tv's, and her refrigerator full of food while she wonders how to pay 2005 electrical bills, and probably has no car to drive, her children live in a neighborhood where drugs and crime are rampant. Maybe there are drive-by shootings, but of course, this would still be considered a mere inconvenience of one so rich by 1920's standards.... Of course, in 1929, when the stock market fell and the country went into the Depression then those lucky bastards were rich compared to the Pilgrims when they faced their first harsh winter.

Wed Apr 27, 06:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tanker J.D. said...

Uncharacteristically sarcastic of you...

I think the point of the post is that wealth is a relative term, not that everything is hunky-dory today. Life is a struggle and each generation has members who are poor, and members who are rich. So the idea that we could, with some sort of government policy, undo this aspect of human nature is merely a chimera. Marxism/Leninism was a gigantic attempt to make sure that nobody was poor. It succeeded, in part, but only by making sure nobody was rich (by 1990's Western standards), this nobody was poor (by 1940's Russian standards). Key to this partial success was restricting the ability of people with resource and drive to improve their own situation. See, the only way to ensure "equality" is to impose it, and that means dictatorship. Conversly, the only way to continue to improve the condition of society as a whole is to continue growth across the board, but that means some people will succeed and others fail--i.e., some will be rich by their contemporary standards, and some will be poor. The alternative though, is that we stagnate, and everybody stays at one level, which means that in 40 years we will all be poor. But at least we'll be all poor together, right? So it won't be so bad, I guess... But we could ask some former East Germans how un-bad it was.

Wed Apr 27, 07:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Amalie said...

The original post had nothing to do with Marxism/Leninism, the author was merely comparing the modern standard of living to that of the 1920's, I did not see anything about government in there, other than the reference to "welfare mothers." How even "they" were well off, what with their "indoor plumbing" and hot and cold water. I also thought that the author made the point that she was raised in a upper West Side family, so how would she know what a welfare mother felt? While the author has to time to ruminate over "riches" maybe the 'welfare mom" is lucky, she probably has never heard of Club Med or been to the Opera.

Wed Apr 27, 07:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Amalie said...

Nope, I went back and reread her post... it had nothing to do with Marxism... where we should all be poor... it talked about how we would never be "rich" because we can never be satisfied with what we have, we always want more...

Washington DC was rated as the place where people were most likely to feel they were never satisfied with their lot... the majority of them, attorneys...

Wed Apr 27, 08:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tanker J.D. said...

O.k., there was no mention of Marx explicitly. However, at the very least the author was reiterting the basic law of market-based economics that human want is insatiable. ("As long as human beings can dream, they will never get to be rich.") That premise runs counter to the premise of Marxism which says people will contribute to society all that they can, taking only what they need, as if humans had some set lump of goods and services that they needed, which would never expand, and that humans will exert their individual maxiumu effort in the absence of any incentive to do so.

Further, her comparisons to how even though our most poor members of society are better off today than 80-90 years ago illustrates her point of the insatiability of human want.

So, I don't understand your first criticism, b/c it doesn't address those points.

Wed Apr 27, 08:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tanker J.D. said...

damn! No need to get personal!

Wed Apr 27, 08:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tanker J.D. said...

And to get personal without citing support, too!

Wed Apr 27, 08:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Amalie said...

*Further, her comparisons to how even though our most poor members of society are better off today than 80-90 years ago illustrates her point of the insatiability of human want.*

What? "Insatiability of human want" Everyone is better of today than 80-90 years ago... conversely everyone 80-90 years ago was better of than the people living 80-90 years ago before them... and so and so on... nothing has changed in terms of human behavior and that is why Marxism failed, it was based on a theory and not on thousands of years of actual human existence...

Wed Apr 27, 08:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tanker J.D. said...

I think we're actually agreeing...

The reason the world kept advancing is because people kept wanting more things and more conveniences -- i.e., their want was insatiable. First law of economics...

Wed Apr 27, 08:28:00 PM EDT  

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