1. StevoR says

    If only indeed.

    Though “just” doesn’t sum up the extraordinary magnitude of the millionaire’s fortune which is often built on so much misfortune and effort by others.

  2. says

    Nice. Simple, gets to the point…
    I usually start babbling about scale-free networks, power law distribution and growth through preferential attachment. Which is probably why nobody listens to me, ever. I might as well be a Leonard Cohen record.

  3. richardh says

    “Millionaire”? That’s so Dr Evil. s/m/b/ at least.
    Good news: on paper, I’m a millionaire (if you include real estate and the notional value of my pension).
    Bad news: to realise a million in actual cash I’d be homeless.
    Good news: I wouldn’t need a house, I’d be in jail for tax evasion.
    Bad news: I’d also be under suspicion for money laundering.

  4. says

    That’s basically the exact opposite of Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth which tries to argue simultaneously that good people get rich and rich people are good. Because: of course! It’s not sufficient for the wealthy to live comfortably and foist a load of frog-spawn on society, or to tinker with politics; they want to be loved too. “That boot stepping on your face? Now, kiss and lick it and say ‘thank you’ to it.”

  5. raven says

    It is actually way more complicated than that.

    Many rich people in the USA are rich because…they won the lucky sperm contest!!!
    They acquired their great wealth by being born into a wealthy family.

  6. raven says

    Those “born on first base” — in upper-class families, with inheritances up to $1 million — make up 22 percent of the 400. On “second base,” households wealthy enough to run a business big enough to generate inheritances over $1 million, the new UFE study found another 11.5 percent.

    On “third base,” with inherited wealth over $50 million, sit 7 percent of America’s 400 richest. Last but not least, the “born on home plate” crowd. These high-rollers, 21.25 percent of the total Forbes list, all inherited enough to “earn” their way into top 400 status.[pullquote]The narrative of wealth and achievement that Forbes is pushing ignores the other side of the coin.[/pullquote]

    Last year, a rich American had to be worth at least $1.05 billion to make the Forbes 400. This year’s entry threshold: $1.1 billion, the highest ever.

    Of the 400 billionaires in the USA, roughly half were born into wealthy families. 21% of them inherited at least a billion dollars.

    Hmmm, I’m starting to see why most people I know aren’t on the Forbes 400 billionaire list.

  7. PaulBC says

    A million isn’t what it used to be, not even in 1994.

    I have assets that, barring a stock market crash or sudden drop in Bay Area home values should see me through a comfortable retirement–also barring a nuclear war or societal collapse, both of which are genuine possibilities, but then there’s a lot more to worry about.

    Unlike the millionaire skunk, I would say I’m fairly “bright” by most standards, and anyway went to school and wasn’t done till I was 30 or so with a PhD. I have spent a lot of time working… it has been enjoyable and lucrative work in a safe environment. So I don’t know if I can say I worked “hard.”

    The point, though, is that most of this still isn’t my contribution. I didn’t decide what aptitude I would show. I was fortunate to have access to an early microcomputer and to develop an enthusiasm for something that turned out to be worth money. It’s not like I could predict that. Also, I grew up in family that was reasonably well off (a little stretched at times) and with ancestors going to college and beyond for several generations back.

    I definitely won a lottery. I don’t feel proud or ashamed of it. I prefer it to struggling. The idea of being “self-made” is bizarre. As a human being, you only exist because of what went on before. You didn’t choose to be born, didn’t choose the initial circumstances, and your advantages and disadvantages determine your ability to respond to events. The choices you make are significant, but very few people can attribute as much to them as they may believe.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    A lucky skunk who abuses their toys.

    Pianos kept close to fireplaces will go out of tune, and probably suffer permanent damage, from the fluctuating and uneven distribution of heat. But their ornamental value will persist, at least so long as the housekeeping staff dusts them frequently.

  9. snarkrates says

    If you have to include your house to get to a net worth of a million, you don’t even crack the top 10% in the US, and it you have $1 million without counting your house, you just barely crack the upper 10th percentile. Most financial planners suggest a couple needs a million or so put away for retirement–and that assumes you make 4% off of that principal. The days of 4% the safe way are long gone. Now 2.5% to 3% may be more likely. And that of course assumes Social Security will be there, which, if the Rethugs have anything to say about it, is not a safe assumption.

    And of course, with a decade of hyperinflation, you’re fucked no matter what–so hey, in a decade or so, you might have to be a millionaire to buy a loaf of bread!

  10. raven says

    …in a decade or so, you might have to be a millionaire to buy a loaf of bread!

    Yeah, I noticed that yesterday when I did my grocery shopping.
    Prices for items that hadn’t changed in a decade were up 10% in a week.
    Then I filled my gas tank.

    It could be worse though.

    1 Russian Ruble equals 0.012 United States Dollar

    The Russian Ruble is worth about 1 US cent and that number is likely to go down.

  11. Walter Solomon says

    The Russian Ruble is worth about 1 US cent and that number is likely to go down.

    Isn’t that what the Japanese Yen is worth? The Japanese seem to be doing alright for themselves. Furthermore, a less valuable Ruble could make their oil even more tempting for Europe.

    Lowering the value of your currency is an advantage for exports, just ask China.

  12. PaulBC says

    @10 @11 Needless to say, the US cent is also worth just one US cent and I have the same amount of money in my wallet whether I call it $80 or 8000¢. A scaling factor doesn’t tell you anything.

    I get the point (or assume) that the ruble used to be worth more than that. This is one of my peeves, similar to talking about the price of a share of stock when this is meaningless without knowing the shares outstanding. In the case of stock, a high price can be a barrier since you can’t buy fractional shares, but this is not really true of money.

    You could have a currency worth a millionth of a US dollar, print only denominations in millions, and as long as it remains stable, there is no problem at all.

  13. raven says

    One Ruble = 1 penny just seems sort of wimpy.

    Soviet Ruble Wikipedia:

    1989-01-04 0.6059 руб $1.6504
    1990-01-03 0.6072 руб $1.6469
    1991-01-02 0.5605 руб $1.7841
    1991-02-13 0.5450 руб $1.8349
    1992-01-01 0.5549 руб $1.8021

    The official exchange ratio of the Soviet Ruble was roughly 1 to $1:80 at the end of the USSR. The black market rate was way lower though.

    I would still rather have my money in the North American Peso although that is looking a lot less safe in the last few months.

  14. tuatara says

    Like what PaulBC @ 12 says
    The Japanese Yen is the smallest denomination of cash in Japan, so 1 Yen is the equivalent of 1c, and 500 yen is the equivalent of $5.
    Russia has 100 Kopeks to the Ruble.
    The Yen is widely traded internationally while the Ruble at present is a toxic currency about as valuable as a Russian tank on the international market. Fuck-all, in other words.

  15. numerobis says

    On the open market the ruble is worth more than before the war thanks to all the support for it from the central bank.