Photo Prayer 2022-05 -- The One Percent

When critics talk about the one percent possessing over fifty percent of the world’s wealth, they may be talking about my wife and me. They may be talking about you! Neither my wife nor I meant to accumulate wealth. It just sort of found us because we worked steadily most of our lives, lived simply and saved, made good financial decisions, had parents who left us a bit of what they had accumulated, and happened to be born in a wealthy country in booming economic times. I am talking here about assets, not income. Credit Swisse says anyone with $3,200 in assets has more wealth than half the people in the world. $68,800 puts you in the top ten percent. $759,900 in assets puts you over the one percent threshold. What I find remarkable about these numbers is that we do not feel rich. Social Security and a bit other income is not always enough for my wife and I to meet our bills without dipping into our assets. We will need a new car soon and cannot do it out of our income. What do others do? That is a sobering question.

Photo of three people in January, 2010 looking at the “The Wyndham Sisters” 1899 painting by John Singer Sargent,,
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Photo copyright 2010; text, 2022, by Danny N. Schweers.

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Pat wrote:
I know exactly what you mean. Except for getting anything from parents, through no fault of their own, they had enough to cover their own needs and nothing left over, I am in a similar category as you describe. I feel fortunate to have what I do to live here, and I try to live frugally so that I can stall dipping into savings to live here as long as possible. And yet my perceived frugality would be seen as opulence to many of this world.

Craig wrote:
We are monthly dippers, and have to keep an eye on the nest egg to make sure there's going to be a nest and an egg to put in it… Still, wealthy? Depends on your definition, as shown by your research. Our nest egg was a result of work and luck (our parents). It’s calculated to last until 2035. Just around the corner. Longevity is the issue. If I die before then, Jan's got some income left. If I'm (lucky enough) to live longer… hey, I'm alive…. but no nest and no egg….. The one variable I can't really control is the time of my death…. Like so many words these days, "wealth" has lost it's meaning. People talk about the super-rich, the uber-wealthy. What's next, mega-rich? Unbelievably-cosmic-mega-super-duper rich? People like Gates, Schmit, Buffet, Bezos… there really is no category for them. The accumulation of Money has outgrown our ability to describe it…. Nice image. Photographed people staring at painted people staring back at them. Galleries are always some of the most fertile of photographic gardens…. Sargent captured so well the fin-de-sicle (sp?) decadence of just nasty, arrogant wealth. In Europe, artists were doing the same thing, but in different ways. Little did anyone know, the 20th century lay just around the corner, and all the fancy gowns would be ripped to shreds and burned…

Rob wrote:
Sobering indeed. I'm sure you have seen Federal Reserve stats that indicate some 40% of Americans would not have any assets to tap into to pay just a $400 emergency bill. These are the folks we see every day at Lutheran Community Services. Rotating payment of bills, going without essential needs, foregoing investments in their immediate and future well being. Yet, as a country we are focused on so many other things. I am reminded of the quote by Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian archbishop "When I feed people, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist.”

Alice wrote:
Very sobering and thought provoking.

Donna wrote:
Fabulous image, Danny! Love it.

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