Why do just eight individuals, all men, own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's populat… by @balajivis
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt [both men] own more Olympic medals than 99.99% of the world.
While I see merit in having everyone assured a basic standard of living and letting no one go hungry/cold/roofless, I find it ridiculous to believe wealth should be equally spread.
Just like in swimming and athletics, the ability to produce innovation and build wealth is not equally distributed across all humanity. Just like Phelps and Bolt have some special abilities to perform extraordinary movements, Gates, Bezos, Buffett, Bloomberg and others have some extraordinary abilities to produce innovation and build businesses.
There are so many countries in the world that doesn’t have such a self-made billionaire without the government “gifting” off a big chunk of their oil & other assets. Does that mean they have better equality and standard of living than the United States?
Are there other social factors that Gates was a beneficiary of? Did his social systems help him rise up? Of course, same it did with Phelps and others. Phelps could not have become such a special swimmer in the developing world with scant facilities. That doesn’t mean he has to gift his medals to the society. It is a symbiotic relationship – extremely talented ones and a creative society they live in help each other.
In fact, looking at the 8 people at the top should restore faith in humanity. They are not royals nor having great hereditary wealth. Almost all of them built from scratch. They were all stories of entrepreneurship. All of them were first generation entrepreneurs [at that scale].
While Buffett and Slim were beneficiaries of business minded parents, the others were stories of great struggle of people with no business background building first generation enterprises. Some were sons of book keepers, railway workers, lawyers and dentists. Others like Bezos and Ellison [like Jobs] endured tumultuous childhood due to unprepared/unqualified biological parents.
They all depict human struggle and the will to overpower them. A large chunk of these guys are great philanthropists who gave away far, far more wealth than their critics had seconds in their life.
In short, there is nothing obscene or scary or wrong about it. Just like in the case of Phelps and Bolt, we get to marvel some stupendous human talent at work.