Here are some interesting facts and figures about money.
According to our government, there are 316 million Americans living. We've all heard about the infamous 1%, that 1 in a 100 which owns more than 40 in that same 100 combined. (Seriously, check out these links, watch the full video, you will be shocked). But 1 in 100 is not that infrequent. I know more than 100 people, I run into more than that many on the street when I go out. Granted, I doubt I'm in the crowd where I'm likely to meet the super rich, but you get my point. There are 3,160,000 people in that 1% category.
So let's look a little further. There are 3 million in the top 1%, controlling 20% of the nation's income, but there are only 316,000 in the top 0.1%. That's better. How much do THEY make? About 10% of the nation's wealth. On average, they are making ten times more than the rest of the 1%. Well then, let's look at the top 0.01%, only 31,600 Americans! They earn 5% of the nation's income... that's 100 times more than the rest of the 1%. So now let's look at the 0.0000003%. Bill Gates.
Now, I'm not saying Bill Gates is a bad man. Sure, his business has had some "interesting" practices and he has done some rather underhanded things to earn that money, but what CEO hasn't? Through the Gates Foundation, he and his wife have donated over $28 billion to fund amazing and often life-saving projects around the world. He doesn't want his kids to inherit the money, because he wants them to work and earn money. Now, it's hard to say just how much his net worth is. When you're talking that level of income, an exact number is nearly impossible to pin down. But the 2013 World's Richest Man was estimated by Bloomberg to be worth about $72 billion. Even the Gates Foundation isn't a drop in that kind of bucket.
So, let's see what this means. If he could make all of his net worth fluid, Gates could give everyone in the world a big mac, fries, and a coke, and still have enough money to fund the Gates Foundation all over again. He could provide the bottom 1% of American households with over $600,000 each. That's more money than they would see in their entire lives. If he put this in a normal savings account that earned just 0.1% interest, his interest alone would be $72,000,000/year, or $197,000/day.
Suppose Bill Gates wanted to get rid of all of the money he has before he dies, assuming he makes no more. He estimates he will live another 20 years, putting him at 77, about the average lifespan of an American male. Hell, he could put $2 billion aside just in case he lives longer. To get rid of $70 billion in 20 years, he would have to spend $9.5 million/day. That's $400,000/hour, $6600/minute, $110/sec. Get the drift? He could pay for a kid's complete college education in a matter of minutes. If we gave him a million dollars a year, it would take over 70,000 years for him to earn what he has... far longer than history has been recorded.
But that's not all. Let's see how little you make. Let's say Maya earns a good salary of $100,000/year, take-home. That's a great amount of money, even for a family. enough to live comfortably on. She could work for 700,000 years and still not have as much. Let's give Maya some friends... she is in a community of 100 people who all earn $100,000/year and pool their money together. This would sound like a strong group of movers and shakers! This group still needs 7,000 years. The average American makes about $57,000/year, which is actually less than half what Maya does (hers is take-home pay). Perhaps we should all humble ourselves a little and change how we think of income. We aren't making $50,000/year, we're making 1.4-million-years-to-Gates.
Of course, with the inflation rate, you'll be further from today than we are from the dinosaurs before you earn anything close to what he has.
This is just a thought experiment, but I hope it shows you something. There is such a huge disparity between how much we have and how much the rich have that we cannot hope to understand it, let alone overcome it. It is no secret that the middle class is dying. So, if you are one of the 1%, or 0.0001%, or even 0.0000003% (I hope you're doing well, Mr. Gates), perhaps you will look at this and make a change. Because the rest of us don't have the kind of power you do.