Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race. That’s right – they own as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity – that’s 3.6 billion people represented in the bottom half who’s average wealth works out to less than $120 per person. So what’s happening? Michael Yardney helps us understand.
Kevin: Not sure if you’re aware, but did you know that just eight of the richest people on Earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race? That’s according to a recent report by Oxfam. A really interesting study, and I want to get the feedback here from Michael Yardney.
Good day, Michael.
Michael: Hello, Kevin.
Kevin: Michael from Metropole Property Strategists, of course, a regular guest on our show.
Michael, should we be concerned? Is it disturbing that so few people have so much wealth?
Michael: I can understand why it concerns people, and an Oxfam director came out and said it’s obscene so much wealth is held in the hands of so few. I think there’s another way of looking at it, Kevin, that yes, there will always be a disproportion, but let’s have a look at what these wealthy people have done for the community instead of looking at what else we could do.
Kevin: Okay, let’s do that. That’s a very positive thing to do.
Michael: It’s easy to point a finger, it’s easy to say that they’re taking advantage of the tax system or that the system is unfair, but let’s not forget all the jobs they’ve created in the various companies owned by these people who create economic activity by providing goods and services.
And instead of demonizing them, I think what’s also interesting, I did some homework and research to see how philanthropic they are. Can I quickly go through that, Kevin?
Kevin: Please. I think it would be very helpful. Thank you.
Michael: They’re billionaires and they were born at the luckiest time in history, and six of them are hailing from America, which is the wealthiest country in the world. But when you look at them, the first one is Bill Gates.
He’s co-founder of Microsoft, the richest man in the world. But you probably have heard that he set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who so far have donated $30 billion – not million – because their core belief is that giving people the tools to gain a healthy life rather than giving handouts is going to help them.
The number two person on this rich list of eight billionaires was Amancio Ortega, the founder of Zara Clothes. Similarly, he set up the Amancio Ortega Foundation, which only last year gave 25 oncology radiotherapy units to hospitals in Spain at the value of 40 million euro.
Warren Buffet is on the list. He’s 86 years old, and every year, he donates money. Last year alone, he donated $2.86 billion of shares in Berkshire Hathaway, plus he’s set up the Giving Pledge Foundation with Bill Gates, allowing and encouraging other wealthy people to continue giving money during their lifetime.
Number four on the list of these wealthy eight people is Carlos Slim, the Mexican business magnate who owns one of the big telecommunications companies there. He has just recently given $4 billion worth of investments, and he’s got another $6 billion that he had donated to charity.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is worth $42 billion, and he has donated to many nonprofit projects.
Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, number six on the list, is a major philanthropist. He has pledged to give away 99% of his Facebook shares to charitable causes.
Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, and Michael Bloomberg and other people who make up the list have all similarly done this.
So, Kevin, what does all this show? I think it shows that wealthy people recognize that true wealth has nothing to do with how much money you have or how many properties you have or how many businesses or shares; it actually shows that in their life, they have recognized the importance of paying it forward and helping other people and giving back to the community.
Kevin: Yes. It’s interesting reading a little bit further into this information from Oxfam. They say that the bottom half, the average wealth is less than $120 per person. It is such a wide gap, isn’t it?
Michael: It definitely is, but I think the other thing to remember is that while these wealthy people were doing so well and building their wealth, the poor people in the world over the last couple of years are more and more being pulled out of poverty. Look at all those people in China who have moved from rural China, farms and the rice paddies, to cities. There has been a lot of middle-class wealth created in the world, as well.
So let’s not forget these billionaires and all other entrepreneurs around us have become wealthy by growing businesses, by employing people, by creating value, and making your and my money move through the community.
So in my mind, we should have more businesspeople and applaud them. I’m doing my best bit at running my little business, and I know you are too, Kevin. I don’t think we should knock or be jealous of the wealthy people.
Kevin: No, definitely not. We should look at them for inspiration, I would have thought. Michael, always good talking to you, always make a lot of sense. Thank you very much. Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists. Thanks, Michael.
Michael: My pleasure, Kevin.