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I think most people don't realize just how much money the richest people have. People generally think of normal(ish) distributions like height, where if you're 10% taller or shorter than average, you're a tall or short person, and 40% taller makes you the tallest person in the world. In comparison, wealth has a very, very long tail, making it hard to visualize.

Here's what I've come up with to visualize wealth. Suppose you start counting, going up by 1 million dollars every second, and people sit down when you reach their net worth. Most people in the US will sit down immediately. After about 9 seconds, people in the "1%" will start sitting down. Mitt Romney would sit down after 4 minutes. Near the 17 minute mark, billionaires would start sitting down. Eric Schmidt would sit down around 2.8 hours. Finally, after nearly a day, Bill Gates would sit down.

The point of this is there's a huge range of billionaires (analogous to comparing 17 minutes to a day), and the 1% hardly even registers on this scale (like a few seconds).




One way I think about it is I ask myself how long would it take to spend in an average adult life?

To spend $1m in 60 years you have to spend $45 a day every day for the rest of your life.

To spend $1bn in 60 years you have to spend more than $45,000 a day, every day.

Those are figures I can kind of work with.


That's almost like Brewster's Millions, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088850/.


That's a blast from the past :)


Exponential cumulative distribution. Mostly because wealth of the few on the top I'd made by accumulation of wealth of the ones below. A mathematical description of exploitation.


One of the "problems" of capitalism. Excessive capital accumulation past a certain point. What makes the system great, is also one of its fatal flaws.


> What makes the system great..

Excessive capital accumulation is what makes this system great?

Do I read that correctly?


Perhaps charlesdm meant that what makes capitalism great is the freedom to accumulate capital, but the fact that this also allows excessive accumulation is a flaw.


^ Exactly what I meant.




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