Super wealth is somewhat like the universe—after a while the numbers stop making sense. Take for example the amount of wealth siphoned off by the world’s superrich and parked in tax havens.
According to a story by Heather Stewart in The Guardian newspaper, at least $21 trillion has been hidden by the superrich in countries where tax laws are deliberately lax. The story quotes an extensive study by James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens. The study was done for the Tax Justice Network. There is a possibility that the hidden wealth could be as much as $35 trillion.
A trillion dollars is 1 followed by 12 zeroes. That makes $35 trillion 35 followed by 12 zeroes. A trillion is a million million or a thousand billion. Or try this: The distance between the sun and the earth is about 93 million miles. If you lined up one dollar bills from the earth to the sun, you would have spent less than 0.01 percent of your wealth. If you are beginning to lose a sense of comprehension, you are also beginning to grasp the absurdity of the wealth stashed away by the mega-rich.
Henry’s study shows that some 10 million individuals have parked their assets offshore but a mere 92,000 of them own close to $10 trillion of the $21trillion hidden from tax authorities. Out of a total population of a little over seven billion just 92,000 own assets worth nearly $10 trillion. If there is a greater counter to the trickle down economics than this, I do not know. What it shows is that super wealth comes with its own super glue.
There is no way for you to know for sure but take my word for it. I am not one of those 92,000 or even 10 million unless you think that feigning poverty by installing a tip jar on this blog is an eccentricity I specialize in as a member of the Mega-Rich 92000.
Considering the staggering figures and presuming their general accuracy, it is clear that those who possess super wealth also simultaneously possess the will and the means to hide it. It is also clear that the the trickle down economics works only so long as it trickles down to a total of 10 million people on this planet. I am not resentful when I say this because grabbing and hoarding is a primal instinct that all of us have in varying degrees. My point is that the very wealthy should stop selling the non-sense of trickle down economics to those of us who are waiting looking up with our tongues sticking out and hands stretching out. A few dribbles do drop down but they are somewhat akin to post voiding dribbling that older men experience. (Sorry for the gross image but had no choice).
Wealth by its very nature is discriminating. She does not like a majority of the human race. She is a reluctant visitor. She likes to tease and move on. I do not know about you but I have been long convinced that wealth just does not like me. In the context of this new study, not to mention in the interest of saving me some work, it is worth repeating what I wrote on February 5 this year.
“It has taken me 30 years of working life and an intense process of elimination to reach a defining conclusion—Wealth just does not like me.
Our relationship has been one of perfunctory courtesies. She has always sought and found the least heartfelt, albeit it civil, way to greet me. Occasionally, when she has seemed to come on surprisingly strong, it has always turned out to be for someone standing behind or beside me. You know someone like Mark Zuckerberg or Mukesh Ambani. I mean figuratively because I have never met Zuckerberg and Ambani but only once. There is nothing more infuriating than being within earshot of wealth and being brushed off.
I have discovered that wealth is not contagious. It is not airborne. It cannot be contracted by sleeping with someone wealthy. You can get syphilis by sleeping with someone wealthy but not wealth. I can go on with some more STD comparisons if you insist but I think you get the picture.
So it is time for wealth and I to go our separate ways. Penury is always flashing me. She is hideously available and annoyingly faithful. She slobbers over me when I least want her. And I always want her the least. She firmly believes that relationships are for life. Sometimes she wants to get into a generational relationship. All those negatives notwithstanding, penury is always reliable and always at hand.
Another truth I have discovered is that while wealth is incestuous, penury is promiscuous. This one needs no elaboration.
Among a series of Buddha moments that I have had sitting under an unfinished ceiling of my basement one is that penury is painfully possessive, while wealth is delightfully self-absorbed. Penury is expansionist and wealth is exclusivist.”