Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are you wealthy?

Much of the discussion about tax cuts for the wealthy in the US defines "wealthy" as a household income of more than $250,000 per annum. There is a good article in today's LA Times, How much money makes you wealthy? It all depends... by Geraldine Baum. A few things it points out. Only 2.5 per cent of Americans make more than this amount.
There is nothing in sociology or economics that defines what income you need to be rich," said Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan economics professor and tax policy expert.
Survey data have helped economists understand popular views — and perceptions vary widely. Slemrod cited one survey showing that Americans, on average, believe an income of $122,000 is enough to be rich. "The higher your income," he said, "the more money you think you need to be rich."
The latter point also agrees with my limited experience. Most people I meet define the wealthy as one or two higher levels of income or affluence than themselves. This includes people who have million dollar homes, stock portfolios, drive luxury cars, take family holidays overseas, and send their children to private schools.

Did you receive a high school education? Do you have electricity and clean running water in your home? Do you always have enough food to eat? Do you sometimes drive a car? Do you have a bank account? Do you have access to medical and hospital care?
Then you are more affluent than something like 95 per cent of the world's population.
6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10

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