If you think this is going to lead to answers which are too speculative, let me know, but I think it should be possible to at least make some strong educated guesses...
What would happen if there was a one-time redistribution of wealth from the wealthiest 1% of people in the US to the other 99% of people?
I was directed to this question on the website “Quora” by a friend the other day, and the answer posted there made me want to bang my head against the wall. I don’t want to say what it was because I don’t want to bias the answers, but it basically led to a never ending back-and-forth between my friend and myself, so I thought it was time to ask some qualified people to weigh in.
What would happen? I’m interested in both short-term and long-term consequences (as well as possible large-scale psychological consequences, though those might be outside the scope of this site).
With my friend we discussed whether it would be different depending on whether the 1%’s assets were first sold, then distributed, or first distributed, then sold. We discussed whether there would be buyers for the assets, given that those who previously had the most money now have none in this scenario. (Of course there could be buyers from foreign markets). We discussed whether it would affect employment and lending, given that the 1% by and large own businesses which employ a lot of people. We discussed whether various groups of people would choose to keep working and what kind of effect that would have.
You can find the stats to calculate this on the Internet, but just to speed things along, the numbers would wind up being a little under 100k per person (if minors are included).
I want to clarify that this was not (I hope) posed as a real suggestion - because robbing people of their assets just because they’ve been more successful than other people seems obviously morally wrong - the question is whether, in a practical sense, the consequences of this scenario would be good or bad overall, for the average individual, and for humanity as a whole, long-term.
The total net worth of the USA is $84 trillion.
The population of the USA is 323 million.
The “wealthiest 1%” is any individual possessing $8 million or more in total assets.
The “wealthiest 1%” controls 38% of the nation’s wealth.
The time period is 2018.
The mechanism is government.