Living in a material world with the richest 1 per cent

It’s official: the rich are getting richer.

In news this past week, it was revealed in a new report that soon the world’s richest 1 per cent will have as much wealth as the remaining 99 per cent combined.

It truly makes you wonder why that money hasn’t already stopped world hunger and cured a myriad of diseases.

According to Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering; and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast,” she said. But who really are the 1 per cent?

It’s a no brainer that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, plus tycoons, celebrities and royals are in the 1 per cent but they are just a fraction of the 47 million people in the world who have wealth of $798,000 or more.

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Someone reading this might now may be considered as part of the 1 per cent as they simply own their house outright or have paid out over $798,000 of their mortgage.

So what is the country with the most people in the world’s wealthiest 1 per cent? The US. Australia is trailing behind America’s 18 million people, with 1.8 million of the richest humans on Earth.

Here is a chart by Credit Swisse to show the other countries with citizens who have more money than we could ever dream of:

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It is staggering to think of how much accumulated wealth the 47 million people have but is it their prerogative to keep it? Does money really make someone happy enough?

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CNN journalist James Wallman wrote a great piece a few days ago about the more you own, the less happy you are. He talked of a friend “Pete” who was the sort of person who would never look at price tags, has pieces of art worth more than a house in an inner city suburb and yet he isn’t happy. He made a poignant point: “It’s the story of our materialistic consumer society. Just as the have-nots aspire to catch up with the haves, so the haves look up to the have-yachts. It doesn’t matter who you are, you still want to catch up with, keep up with, and get ahead of the Joneses”.

We want what we don’t have and now we’re a materialistic society, we display wealth through what we have, instead of what we are. Our personalities have been replaced with the size of our house or the watch on our wrist.

James also said that “millions of us spend too much time worrying about our place in the pecking order, and scheming to get up the ladders and avoid the snakes. The result is millions of us left wanting, even though we have pretty much all we desire”.

And isn’t that so true. I saw a quote once that said the only thing that is always guaranteed to be worth the money is travel and expanding your mind beyond material possessions.

 

Let’s put it to you – what do you think? Does money equal happiness? Are material possessions enough to feel content or is it experiences and giving to others? Do you think the world’s wealthiest should hand over their money and end world hunger? Or do they deserve to do what they like with their riches?