Gini of One

File:Esthermillais.jpgIn 2012, the Gross World Product, the combined production of the world, was $84.97 trillion, and the population exceeded seven billion on 12 March 2012. So the income of the world, per head, was $12,138, by purchasing power.

From Cap Gemini: The investable wealth of the world’s High Net Worth Individuals reached $46.2 trillion in 2012, that is 11.97 million people, averaging $3.9m each. Were that divided equally among the world’s population, it would be $6,600 each. “Investable” wealth omits the value of the main residence. Bain and Co estimated world capital in 2010 at $600 trillion. They expect this figure to grow by 50% in the decade to 2020. The 2010 figure is $85,714 per head.

Global Issues: over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.

The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values in a set, for example levels of wealth. A Gini of zero indicates perfect equality, a Gini of one indicates one person owns all the wealth. The Gini can be greater than one if everyone else owes the plutocrat money.

That $12,000 income is per head, including children, the elderly, and others not working.

So if we sorted the problems of dividing income and giving incentives to work, everyone could live in a state of wealth undreamed of a century ago. Greater income equality produces greater happiness. have been reading about The Culture, again. A level 4 civilisation in one of the books- faster than light travel, colonies in other star systems- has still got rich people, and the richest is always unethical and often criminal. It is not really a spoiler that he gets his, violently, in the end- Banks strives for happy endings. There is a mechanised thing which can build starships, by itself, and he owns it. There is no particular need for humanity to reach a certain level of capital, and then become egalitarian.

Soon there will be trillionaires.

This has sat as a draft for more than six months, because it is essentially a whine about part of an apparently dreadful situation.

What of Creative Destruction? The world gets better, and the Luddites were wrong. Well. In the previous state of technology, a weaver was self-employed, and could make a living, and the looms the Luddites broke allowed anyone to work them, driving down the wages, and driving all the profit to the mill-owners. Now, there are too many people, and any job may be out-sourced or mechanised, driving  down the wages and driving all the profit to the wealthiest. Except that there are no machines I can go out and break with a hammer.

Another unused draft from about the same time consists only of two links about happiness. The second is to a page which seems no longer available, but the site has a wonderful URL. At least I can put in a nice picture.

7 thoughts on “Gini of One

  1. Economics and equality are generally too confusing for me. When I think about it I feel guilty for living such an easy life in a rich country, but I don’t see how to affect the balance, and change on such a grand scale would take generations. If it’s possible. It must be possible though.


    • Having lived in a country with greater poverty, that must be sharper for you than for many.

      I heard this Thomas Merton quote, and so share it. You are the third person I have quoted it at:

      To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times. Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.


      • Do you agree with the quote? I see what he’s saying … but sometimes frenzy is required for change. Otherwise we would be passive creatures that don’t evolve, focussing on one thing that keeping ourselves at peace. Our inner capacity for peace is overrated and it’s not creative. (just said that to be controversial I think).


        • Mmm. “Frenzy”- The uncontrollable excitement of a paroxysm of mania. Like a mental illness. It can appear energised, but the energy soon burns out. Energy is needed, not frenzy.

          I came across a couple of people who had trashed their own flats, smashing their furniture, and I saw an attraction in it: the illusion of power and control, just for a moment. I had thought that my spiritual growth came in Rebirth moments, changing my direction completely, but now I see it as patient movement by particular exercises.

          The Inner Capacity for Peace is not a state of bamboozled exhaustion, but integrity knowing the way to go: controlled energy moving forward. It is a useful term for God within.


  2. Gosh … this gives me a push and a bit of momentum. I’m startled by the fact that over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. Good gravy. That’s utterly staggering, Clare. I’ve never been a fan of Merton, ever since I had a rather hot-headed argument about with a mate in my tutorial at Cambridge. I tend to associate him with a certain know-it-all from Surrey! Poor Merton … or not, as the case may be! This is, as always, a wonderful article.


    • If you read Merton’s books, you get fairly good spiritual uplift stuff. If you read his diaries, published in full, you get his difficulties and his love affair.

      And- meet Violet. Violet writes a fun blog mocking Christians, how immoral, ignorant and ridiculous they are. Violet, meet Mark, who is someone I do the odd thing to push towards my gentle and spiritual Christianity.


      • I’ll search out our Violet, who sounds like a bit of a blogging good-time girl, and I’ll ease up a bit on Merton. As I say, it all owes to one of those Surrey public school boy meets American arguments one had at Cambridge.


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