Rich - healthy, longevous; poor - fat chance of both

MAKE (translated by Cosmin Ghidovean)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 27 aprilie 2018

Rich - healthy, longevous; poor - fat chance of both
MAKE (translated by Cosmin Ghidovean)

The dystopia of 2169 seems to be 151 years away from us, if we were to watch the American sci-fi movie "In Time", in which New Zealand screenwriter, director and producer New Zealand Andrew M. Niccol has imagined a world in which money has been replaced by the lifespan left and each individual over 25 years old (when they stop aging), are wearing a counter on their arm, displaying how much they have left to live; the economic system relies on transactions paid in lifespan - banks, loans, interest rates - the rich are storing billions of years, while the poor only have hours, minutes or seconds left and when their time is up they die suddenly, as if struck by a mace.

But last week, when it released to the public its first report on the connection between wealth, health and longevity, Swiss bank UBS found itself required to mention "It's not science fiction", when it came to the finding that more than half of the rich investors (53%) expect to live 100 years and beyond (the investors in question are part of the HNWI category - "High Net Worth Individuals", those who have more than 1 million dollars in cash available for personal use).

The average life span of the person's duration has increased almost everywhere in the world: in China, the US and the majority of countries in Eastern Europe, the average life span has surpassed 70 years, according to the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), but people in Western Europe and Japan can expect to live more than 80 years.

The rich, however, are taking into account a lifespan that is about twenty years longer than Westerners and Japanese, according to the poll by UBS, as they see living for a century a standard within reach.

The report shows that the rich are willing to sacrifice money to extend their longevity, with nine out of ten rich people agreeing that "health is more important than welfare".

When asked by UBS "how much fortune would they be willing to forego, to guarantee another ten more years of healthy life", the median answers have varied according to their wealth: investors with a net worth ranging between one and two million dollars have expressed their willingness to give up as much one third of their wealth for a decade of living, whereas investors with over 50 million dollars have been willing to forego about half of their fortune.

The rich also seem to know that extending lifespan to 100 years is an expensive prospect, which requires more expenses for taking care of health, better food, working out and other services which can extend the lifespan and that in order to get those additional decades of life they need to keep paying for everything new the future will bring when it comes to medical improvements. 91% of the rich polled have stated that they are making "financial changes due to their extended life expectancy".

UBS states that the report was drawn up based on the research on more than 5,000 rich investors across the world, from Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the US, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates, showing significant fluctuations in investor perceptions from one country to the next, (for instance rich Americans are more skeptical than rich Germans, as they are influenced by the increase in American mortality generated by drug consumption).

"It's not science fiction", we trade time in our lifetime, with money we can buy health and longevity - when we make a phone call, the price of our conversation can be expressed in the spending of seconds of our lifetime, even if the conversation wasn't necessarily useless.

The wealth gap does not apply just to the difference between the standard of living or the imbalance between the various layers of society in terms of the quality of life, but it is also about lifespan, as a result of these inequalities.

The richest men in the world don't just live better and are healthier, but they also live a few decades more.

Last yea, every study on the evolution of the wealth of the rich has shown the polarization of wealth has reached record levels.

The number of HNWI (people with cash available for personal use exceeding 1 million dollars) has reached 16.5 million in 2016, combining a total of 63.5 trillion dollars, (according to the report of the World Wealth Report 2017, by Capgemini Financial Services); for comparison, "The global debt clock" posted by "The Economist", on Sunday indicated a global public debt of 58 trillion dollars.

It follows that what the rich of the world had available on hand (two years ago) was 5.5 trillion dollars greater than today's debt of the government of all countries in the world.

But since then, their pockets have swollen even more!

The constant increase of the HNWI population over the last six years, found by CapGemini, coincides with a deepening of the wealth gaps, emphasized in the Credit Suisse Research Institute report, of November 2016.

These show that 1% of the population of the plant, owned, two years ago, 50.8% of the global wealth, whereas the richest 10% owned 89.1% of the global wealth.

In a report financed by Societe Generale of a few years ago, "The Economist Intelligence Unit" claimed that the HNWI "population" heavily influences "the world of investments, the market for consumer goods, the property market and charity events", whereas other studies claim that HNWI control a significant portion of the planet's economic resources.

According to specialists of Credit Suisse, 1% of the world's richest people, owned 49.6% of the planet's wealth in 2000, which fell to 45.4% in 2009, and in 2014, the wealth owned by the 1% would exceed the level in the beginning of the century.

Josef Stadler, the main author of a report by UBS/PwC of 2017 on the billionaires of the world, explained:

"We are at an inflection point. The focusing of wealth is just as high as it was in 1905, and the billionaires are concerned. The issue is the multiplication power, which makes big money get even bigger and the question is to what extent this is viable and when will the time come when society intervenes and reacts adversely".

Oxfam International, the NGO fighting against poverty, wrote in its report published two years ago:

"In almost every rich and developing country, the proportion between the national income that goes towards workers is dropping. That means that workers get increasingly less of the gains resulting from the economic growth. In contrast, capital holders have seen significant increases (through interest rates, dividends or profits) faster than the economic growth rates. The avoidance of taxes by capital holders and the government policies of cutting taxes on capital gains have favored these returns."

Oxfam didn't say it, but in light of the current UBS report we understand that the fiscal and budgetary shenanigans cut lives short.

The International Monetary Fund recently said that the Western governments should force the top 1% of the high net worth individuals to pay more in taxes, to try and reduce the dangerous inequality incomes.

In reality, it seems that the economic system we are organized in, economically, socially and politically, makes debts be collective and gains becoming private, so that debts are growing at the same rate that the wealth of the rich of the world are growing.

The longevity of the rich seems to be nothing else but the result of the Darwinian selection.

Homo homini lupus.


The fight for money is about life and death and that is not a metaphor.

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