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The astonishing wealth of the truly rich

Popular British newspapers habitually quote footballers’ salaries as a weekly wage, and fans are encouraged to gasp when the top ones are on around £300,000 a week. We choke on our cereal when we read they are negotiating contracts like this, even having the bare faced cheek to ask for more. What greedy bastards they are. 

The wealth of the truly rich, the oligarchs, East and West, is never presented in the same way. Figures are given, but, confronted with a blizzard of digits, it is easy to lose track of how rich the really rich are; how much more they have than the rest of us. What do all these billions mean? 

The figures currently quoted for the wealth of the top billionaires (Musk, Bezos, Gates, Buffett, … etc) are between $100 billion and $300 billion, so a ball park figure, in pounds, of say £120 billion for each of them. In the UK, Len Blavatnik has around £23 billion, Jim Dyson has £16 billion or so, Lakhsmi Mittel, the Rausings are around that mark, poor old Richard Branson is well down the list. Leaving aside details like where they live and hold their wealth – how local they are in reality – we could take their wealth as around £12 billion. So our average global oligarch has £120 billion and the local one £12 billion. 

An incredible weekly wage

Let’s treat them like footballers. What is their weekly wage? Assuming they have acquired their wealth over a full lifetime, say 50 years of work, we will underestimate their weekly earnings because they have acquired their money much more quickly than this, and this also does not take account of their spending; but no matter, we will be more than fair to them. Even with this underestimate our local oligarchs are getting over £4.6 million a week and the global ones ten times as much, over £46 million a week. These are truly incredible figures and, unlike footballers, they are not entertaining millions of people; apart that is from the joy we get from watching Bezos, Musk and Branson posing with their ridiculous space rockets.

A rather long time for most of us to save

Another way of looking at it is to imagine how we might save up the money they possess. Let us say you have a spectacular job which earns £1 every second, that is surely great money however you look at it; £3,600 an hour every hour day and night. Being thrifty and ambitious to join the oligarchs, you save every penny of this. How long before you could look them in the eye and compare your wealth with theirs? Unfortunately at this rate the answer is never; you do not have the time to even get close. It would take you 382 years to match our local billionaires and 3,816 years to match the global super rich.

Bezos, Musk, Buffett et al each have so much money that you would have to accumulate £1 a second since the reign of the Egyptian Pharoah Nefrusobek around 1800 BC to match them. To match our local billionaires you would need your £1 a second since 1639 when Charles I was still on the throne


One thought on “Rich Pickings”
  1. Great article! Brings home the obscene wealth of the super rich. As Bernie Sanders says, ‘Every billionaire is a policy failure’ – or words to that effect…..

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