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I’m in the process of reviewing a book on the wealth divide. “Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case fo Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good,” by Chuck Collins, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT, 2016.Collins takes a somewhat different view of wealth.In 2007 Robert Frank authored a book: Richistan: A Journey Through Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. He defines three regions: Lower, Middle, and Upper Richistan. Collins adds Affluentville. Old wealth and new wealth can see things differently, and cultural differences age, region, race and religion matter. Affluentville includes the top 10% of the wealthy, about 11MM households with assets in the range $680K to $3MM. They emphasize opportunities for their children to prevent loss of economic status. They value using their wealth to open doors and tend to oppose efforts to reduce inequality. They cluster in about 100 zip codes mostly on the East and West coast. They fly commercial and own a luxury car.Lower Richistan: $3MM to $10MM. 3MM households. Top 3% of households. Wealth from business, salaries, stock investments, and inheritance. They populate upscale restaurants, country clubs, and luxury vacation destinations. They are moving back into urban centers. They own second homes. They fly commercial, but often first class. They grew their wealth owning small businesses and with long term investments. These next-door millionaires are not flashy. Many still live in their first homes and lead relatively thrifty lives. Middle Richistan: $10MM to $100MM. 1.6MM households. Top 1% of wealth holders. 0.1% of households. Recipients of over 90% of wealth gains since 2008. Business owners, investments, and some earned income. Upper end fly private jets or own fractional interests in jet services like Netjet. Tend to distance themselves from humanity but engage through their children to cities, colleges, institutions, nonprofits, and concerns about inequality.Upper Richistan: Over $100MM. Top 0.01%. Ultra high net worth. Multigenerational wealth dynasties, first generation entrepreneurs, hedge fund managers, and CEOs. Own and fly private jets. Managing wealth and property is major activity. Properties and residences have caretakers, trained staff, and servants. Family offices or private law firms administer investments, trusts, and philanthropic foundations. You can’t spend all your wealth. So they think long term and buy timberland, oil rigs, and office towers. Disconnected from working people except for foundations. Some address wealth inequality and support fair taxation.
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