How Rich the Poor Are …

Here is part of a discussion I came across as some kind of “exchange of letters on the internet”.

In the 1950ies and 1960ies, science fiction was a much-loved genre imported from the USA. Among other works, Frederik Pohl, representing a mainstream I will – for reasons of simplicity – just call “Social Fiction”, published a story titled “The Midas Plague”. It is based on a consumer society busily trying to sell products and services produced in over-abundance by robots to the people. The citizens have rationing cards: the lower their social position, the higher the minimum consumption they are allowed. In other words: if you order something on yourself, the others will have to pay.

Consequently, luxurious residential areas represent the slums and allotment holders’ colonies are some kind of Beverly Hills. At this time, it is irrelevant that the author does not really do a lot with this ingenious idea of his.

I remembered said story when one of my friends pointed me towards an article in the “Welt”. It says:

According to a study by the Deutsche Bundesbank, the fortune owned by private households in Germany is a lot less than that held by private households in Euro crisis countries like Spain or Italy. Last Thursday, the Deutsche Bundesbank, at Frankfurt/Main, informed us that the average wealth of German households amounts to 51,400 Euros. In Italy, the sum is 163,900 Euros, in Spain 178,300 Euros.

In France, so the Deutsche Bundesbank, the average wealth of a household is 113,500 Euros. In Austria, it is closer to the German sum with 76,400 Euros. In Germany, the citizens living in the East own a lot less than those living in the West: 21,400 Euros as opposed to 78,900 Euros.
[There are more interesting numbers to be found in the same article about what people are worth in diverse EU countries]

That means that, compared with the highly indebted crisis country Spain, the forerunner and highly productive Germany is as poor as a dormouse  when it comes to property (fortune minus liabilities). Even the French who, after all, statistically work six days per year less than the Germans, are far better off than the Germans. Maybe that is because the real incomes sank by 4.5 % between 2000 and 2010. Or maybe the Germans prefer spending their money at Malle, rather than practicing “build your own house”?

I prefer leaving comments on the informative value of these average numbers (what age exactly is it and where aver is it going?) to the statisticians. However, the logical conclusion seems obvious:

The poorer the countries, the richer the citizens, and the poorer the citizens, the richer the countries.
Countries that fail economically will create wealthier citizens.

Well, the EZB saw that a long time ago, didn’t they? But then, only the rich will get rescue funds.

Now I know: wealth will not come as a result of thriftiness and hard work. It will come as a result of debts and spending. It is an innovative, realistic and economical concept.
So why did I ever study economy? Errrare humanum est!

I know the author of the text quite well. He likes pointing our noses towards contradictions. To me, considering the current situation, the numbers look at least exciting. However, I would certainly not wish to stir evil between us and our European neighbours. But still, in some way or other, these numbers, too, show that things have gotten into a real mess, haven’t they?  And we will hardly be able to avoid a huge reform, because otherwise the “great reform” will come and catch up with us without our consent.
Personally, I am actually glad that I did not study economy.

However, I, too, believe you will never accumulate riches by hard work and thriftiness. It might be better to indebt yourself…

(Translated by EG)

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