Can Wealth exist without poverty ?

Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#1
For the sake of argument I'll define both wealth and poverty as relative terms which may have different meanings even within the same culture.

According to Marx, poverty grows with wealth, so wealth cannot exist without poverty.

I'm not sure if Marx is right in principle. However, I have studied a reasonable number of cultures, including my own. Plus, have visited around 20 countries including several so-called 'undeveloped countries' . Whatever I have studied, wherever I have visited, that principle seems to have existed. It is more obvious in less developed countries, because there is no large middle class. This was especially noticeable in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and China. These observation were made over 20 years ago. I would expect/hope things have improved since then.


I won't claim the principle of no wealth without poverty has been established. However,I can't think of any exceptions, or indeed, many.

Be very interested to learn different views.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,885
#2
The Buying power of Money varies with people's desire to have money,.

Is everyone has a million doallars no one is rich because the buying power is lower than a situation where one person has a million dollars and a thousand have 5,000 dollars.

Wealth is not unrelated to distribution of wealth. Rich implies to some degree of less well off. (barring some post industrial robot paradise).

There are also structural aspects like housing, a popularly method people acquiring some 'wealth' , this relies on people who do not own houses, to some dgree the capture of wealth relies on some other people be availble to be exploited. rent collecting, economic activity that extracts a on going fee for some asset or right can be classified as "exploitative":

Poverty is not necessary for wealth. To omuch poverty makes it hard to acquire welath to some degree (people nee dto be able to pay rent) but wealth exaction methods often involve keeping people poor.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,831
Dispargum
#3
Are you asking 'Can there be a society in which there are no poor people, only rich and middle class?' (Let's set aside for the moment the oxymoron of a middle class in a society with only two classes).
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,626
Australia
#4
As you say, wealth and poverty are relative concepts, so to have one you must have the other. In an ideal society an individual would have a sufficiency of everything to live a safe and comfortable life. I would define a lack of these means as 'poverty' and an unnecessary excess as 'wealth'. A society like that of our Sentinel Island friends from the other thread seems to have the balance right as far as we can tell. They have all they need and nothing they don't to function in their world. However if we compare things like health care and access to modern medicine etc, could they said to be living in poverty? I would suggest that such a comparison to our society is not valid.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,537
#5
I think the concept is related to material measures of wealth (which is the only things we can count accurately so far, everything else is material proxies for happiness/state of mind).

As wealth in a society grows the top classs have more things thus the most poor who generally accumulate very few things have relatively less. A homeless person in the U.S. nowadays often has a cellphone and a handful of other items but not much else while the wealthiest class (not the billionaires who are too small to represent a class) represented by the 5,000 richest households in the U.S. with a net worth above 100 million have on average 3 homes, 2 cars per person, and nearly entire household of goods per person plus most of that 100 million in various investments even after deducting those things. So the poorest in a wealthy society is by default MUCH poorer than in a poor society where the richest person might have only a room full of things more than the poorest person in the same society.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#6
Are you asking 'Can there be a society in which there are no poor people, only rich and middle class?' (Let's set aside for the moment the oxymoron of a middle class in a society with only two classes).
I didn't think I was.

I thought I was asking if there can be wealthy people without there inevitably being poor people. For me, the ideal would be a country where there was wealthy people, a middle class of intellectuals and professionals, scientist, artist etc, AND an affluent working class. Nobody would be in need.

Australia has come close to my ideal in absolute terms.(past tense) However, Australian society has also been described as having a culture of envy. Plus" Australia is the only country in the world where the term 'academic' is used as an insult" (Dame Roma Mitchell, first Australian female judge, chancellor of an Australian university and governor of a state--here a 'governor' is the queen's representative, a largely ceremonial position)
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#7
The Buying power of Money varies with people's desire to have money,.

Is everyone has a million doallars no one is rich because the buying power is lower than a situation where one person has a million dollars and a thousand have 5,000 dollars.

Wealth is not unrelated to distribution of wealth. Rich implies to some degree of less well off. (barring some post industrial robot paradise).

There are also structural aspects like housing, a popularly method people acquiring some 'wealth' , this relies on people who do not own houses, to some dgree the capture of wealth relies on some other people be availble to be exploited. rent collecting, economic activity that extracts a on going fee for some asset or right can be classified as "exploitative":

Poverty is not necessary for wealth. To omuch poverty makes it hard to acquire welath to some degree (people nee dto be able to pay rent) but wealth exaction methods often involve keeping people poor.
Thank you. Excellent, pithy explanation. Exactly what I'm after.

Not sure I'm quite with you regarding distribution of wealth. I have always thought of that term as a significant function of government. Taxes and charges are collected and distributed for infrastructure and services:EG: ; armed forces, police forces, roads, public utilities (if govt controlled) schools, and hospitals. A government has the responsibility for public health, education and welfare. Visiting countries without a welfare system and only a user pays health system shows how critical such services are.

Australia has free universal health care ,a subsidised pharmaceutical scheme, a national superannuation system, a non contributory system of age and invalid pension, and national unemployment/illness payments..

I'm retired , with a small superannuation pension, to which I contributed for over 30 years. I also receive a part-age pension (it's means tested) I'm also in poor health, taking a considerable number of drugs. If I did not receive government assistance, I would survive, rather than live in modest comfort. ( I own my house, do not drink, smoke or gamble or go out with dancing girls and do not use credit)

I'm very interested in your position, and would like to think about it for awhile. Could you recommend any writers/articles/ books?

No, not a saint in any sense; an ex drinker and ex smoker. Have never gambled . Have always seen gambling as a mug's game, unless one owns the bank. --Poker machines are legal here ,and can be found by the dozen in most pubs and clubs, as well as casinos, of which there a huge one in every state. Most of 'em are owned by billionaire James Packer.
 
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Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#8
I think the concept is related to material measures of wealth (which is the only things we can count accurately so far, everything else is material proxies for happiness/state of mind).

As wealth in a society grows the top classs have more things thus the most poor who generally accumulate very few things have relatively less. A homeless person in the U.S. nowadays often has a cellphone and a handful of other items but not much else while the wealthiest class (not the billionaires who are too small to represent a class) represented by the 5,000 richest households in the U.S. with a net worth above 100 million have on average 3 homes, 2 cars per person, and nearly entire household of goods per person plus most of that 100 million in various investments even after deducting those things. So the poorest in a wealthy society is by default MUCH poorer than in a poor society where the richest person might have only a room full of things more than the poorest person in the same society.
Thank you. I agree pretty much. However, I'm using poverty in a relative sense. My perception is absolute poverty is when a person does not have potable water, enough to eat, or a safe/ warm/ clean place to sleep. Relative e poverty is according to the values of a specific society. In Australia, a person tend to consider themselves poor is if they cannot afford a car , mobile phone or big screen TV.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,383
Sydney
#9
The concept of wealth relate to the accumulation of goods and properties
of course such an accumulation is done by leaving others less fortunate in need
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#10
The concept of wealth relate to the accumulation of goods and properties
of course such an accumulation is done by leaving others less fortunate in need

Yeah, that's more along the lines I was thinking . Simple Marxism.

I'm neither Communist or Socialist, more your satisfied capitalist with very limited capital. I've read a bit of Marx and had an especially fervent Marxist professor. I see Marx and Engels as brilliant men who provided an accurate analysis of 19th century industrial Europe. In papers I tended to use a Marxist perspective.

Unfortunately, as brilliant as Marx and Engels were, I've long concluded their analysis to be deeply flawed. IE Dubious assumptions are made about 'human nature, especially about people's willingness to share the fruits of their labour.--I've always been willing to share, but on my terms,. not on terms imposed on me. Selfish areshat? You bet your bippy