Can Everyone Really be a Millionaire?

When I watch the news, this is what I hear. Half the time, I hear Democrats trying to free up the 80% of America’s wealth being hoarded by less than 2% of the population – and the Republicans tricking their cult-following into believing that this is “socialism”. The other half of the time, I hear Democrats actually starting to endorse the “everything for free” campaign – and give Republicans credibility. It’s exhausting.

If you take the extremists out of both sides, I have a feeling there would be more agreeing than we’re used to seeing in our government – or maybe not. These thoughts flowed through my mind after listening to an NPR story the other day. After driving for nearly 15-20 minutes and letting these thoughts stream, I came up with an interesting question. What if everyone was a millionaire?

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Now, let me be clear. In my hypothetical scenario, I’ve removed all radical extremist propaganda. In my scenario, we did not all become wealthy by merely slicing up all the money and splitting it up equally (as Republicans accuse the Democrats of advocating). Additionally, everyone got wealthy by working their asses off (not inheriting it or being “gifted it” as many on the left imply is how all wealthy people became that way). No no no…let’s assume that everyone, starting now, everyone did the right thing in America.

  1. Everyone that could, worked.
  2. Everyone spent less than what they made.
  3. Everyone saved for retirement – aggressively.
  4. Everyone taught their kids this formula for kicking ass, and when they died, handed over their wealth to their kids and grandkids, who would eventually do the same.

Would we run out of money? Or would this ultimately over time chip away at that billionaires offshore bank accounts? I really don’t know the answer to this!

According to this piece on cheatsheet.com, America is worth about 23 trillion dollars. Money.com says America’s net value is about 84.9 trillion dollars. Federalreserve.gov says there’s about 1.7 trillion dollars in currency actually in circulation as of the beginning of this year.

Those numbers are all over the place as they speculate property value, value of assets, and straight cash. For the sake of this question I’m thinking about, let’s just simply go with the cash in circulation for our math.

Here’s what 1.7 trillion dollars looks like as a number: $1,700, 000, 000, 000.00

It’s nearly impossible for me to wrap my mind around that number, but we must. There are, according to this website, there are 252,063, 800 adults in America as of 2017…let’s just assume it’s close to that now. So check it – 1.7 trillion dollars divided between the over 252 million adults in the US is…

$6,744.32 per person. So married couples would be rocking a whopping $13,488.65 per household. This is simply cash – we haven’t counted any other assets.

If we count all assets, we can take that $85 trillion dollars and divide it between the adult population and get…

$336, 819.49 per person, with a married couple representing a sum of $673,638.98.

I’m not trying to kill you with numbers here, but before I continue trying to analyze the details of my question and subsequent thoughts, I just want to point out that according to more than a dozen similar articles I found, in 2017 the top 0.7% wealthiest people owned a little less than half the world’s wealth. Let me make it clear what that means. Of the $280 trillion of wealth apparently out there on the planet Earth in 2017 – less than 1% of our population as a planet accounted for $140 trillion of it. There were 7.53 billion people on planet Earth in 2017! So for those of you keeping score –

527,100,000 people on Earth had $140 trillion. The rest of the over 7 billion folks also had $140 trillion.

So before anyone gets ready to ball up their fists and fight about what this means, let’s just agree on two things. First of all, that’s gross income inequality no matter how you slice it. At the same time, not every single one of those 527 million folks with all the money are non-working assholes that didn’t earn it. Many might be, but they can’t ALL be. Either way, it’s irrelevant when it comes to my question – so let’s not polarize the real issue at hand.

Let’s get back on track. What would happen if everyone were a millionaire? What if excess were passed on generation after generation to equally responsible people – would we run out of money? Would we just print more?

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The more I thought about this, and the more I think about it now, I really don’t know how to find out the answer to this. It gets even more confusing when I think about where money comes from. Check this out –

  1. America, according to what I referenced earlier, has a net worth of +84.9 trillion dollars.
  2. In america, according to what I referenced earlier, has about 1.7 trillion dollars actively circulating at this time.
  3. The treasury prints money – and also issues bonds when permitted to allow the government to borrow.

So here’s my NEW question. If America has a positive net worth, then this “debt” we hear so much about isn’t that big of a deal right? Or is it? How is it factored in?

I find myself wishing I graduated with an Economics degree rather than Political Science as I ponder these things. As little as I know about Economics and the way the world and currency work – I’m afraid to even guess.

As the political banter continues to escalate while America approaches another presidential election, I’ll be keeping my ears open for issues that pertain to this question and theme. Sure, you’ll never hear me argue that quality health care isn’t a human right, nor will you ever hear me denounce the value and importance of a college education – I think that healthcare and education are two of the greatest equalizers in this country when it comes to overcoming adversity, poverty, and countless other obstacles. I also acknowledge these two things account for A LOT of bankruptcy too.

Earlier, I used some loose stats to determine there’s not enough money in the America right now for everyone to have a million bucks in cash, nor are there enough “assets” for everyone to qualify as a millionaire. I guess I’m not surprised by that. It just makes me seriously wonder where all the money would come from to account for everyone’s millionaire status if we all suddenly did the right thing and we all passed wealth on to our children – where would the money actually come from? Would it just be numbers representing “worth” rather than actual monetary value? Does this same principle make America’s debt sort of a “figurative” number? If everyone in the world instantly called everyone on ALL their debts, is there enough currency to account for such an event?

My fear is that even if someone could explain this to me, I’d struggle to understand. Nonetheless, this is where your mind goes when you have a 30-minute drive home from work and insist on listening to audiobooks on personal finances.

 

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adamfrancisduffy

Husband, dad, soldier, veteran, transportation manager, musician, and now a blogger and podcast host...sharing stories, experiences, and debates.

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