Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pie in the sky

First, the story....

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Two percent of adults have more than half of the world's wealth, including property and financial assets, according to a study by the U.N. development research institute published on Tuesday.

While global income is distributed unequally, the spread of wealth is even more skewed, the study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the U.N. University said.

"Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90 percent of total world wealth," the survey showed.

The Helsinki-based institute said its study was the first global research on the topic, for which there is only limited data.

"We've estimated that the richest 2 percent of adults own more than half of global wealth, while the bottom half own 1 percent," said institute director Anthony Shorrocks.

He likened the situation to that where, in a group of 10 people, one person has $99, while the remaining nine share $1.

"If you think income has been distributed unequally, wealth has been distributed even more unequally," Shorrocks said.

According to the study, in 2000 a couple needed capital of $1 million to be among the top 1 percent on the wealth list -- the richest 37 million people in the world.

More than one in every two of those people lives in the United States or Japan.

And it found that net assets of $2,200 per adult would put a household in the top half of the world wealth distribution.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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Can somebody kindly tell me where the "wealth distribution" office is so I can go there and get some wealth? What's that you say? Wealth is made by utilizing your natural resources and skills in a "rule of law" environment for supporting yourself and for the best interest of your community?

Darn. I thought you could just go and sign up somewhere.

"Wait - hold that thought," say the liberals. We can do that! Let's just take away wealth from the countries that made it by working and give it to the useless lazy despots who put all of their previous aid in Swiss bank accounts, so they can help their people! What's that you say? They didn't help them before? They took the money and stole it and gave some to their cronies and kept the rest for themselves?

How rude.

Oh, well. That's in the past. They won't do it again. Right? Of course we believe they won't use the money to buy weapons instead of food, or to enrich their cronies and relatives instead of investing in infrastructure. They won't open more swiss bank accounts - of course not - they'll build water and sewage treatment plants, electric generation, roads, schools, hospitals, and so on.

What? What do you mean that should have done that already? What do you mean billions of dollars was already given for those things? How can that be, since they don't have any of those things? There must be some mistake.

Yes, class, there is a mistake, all right.

That mistake is the fallacy that wealth is a big pie that someone or something "distributes." Wealth is something that is CREATED out of the thin blue air by anyone who wants to create it, by the simple method of providing ordinary people with the means to have basic modern necessities and the opportunities to start their own businesses - without fear of confiscation, intimidation, political oppression, racial or ethnic bigotry and violence. It's that simple. Europe did it. America did it. Japan did it. Hong Kong did it. Canada did it. Australia did it. Ad nauseum.

Countries that are economically unsuccessful are unsuccessful for political reasons, not economic ones. Any economy will flourish given a basic diet of civil rights and government that cares about the people instead of enriching themselves at the public's expense. Without those things, there can be no "wealth."

And distributing "wealth" already created by someone else to these nations is like flushing it down the toilet. It will benefit no one but the guys with the Swiss bank accounts.

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