“Why I’m Worth 41 Million Times More Than You”

doubledeckerbusTwo little children sit down to eat.

Their mother gives one child many plate fulls of delicious, nutritious food.

She gives the other a tiny amount of gruel, insufficient for the child’s survival.

This continues every day.

Each time, the first child gets a huge banquet, far more than it can ever eat. The other, barely anything.

You might be wondering why this is happening. And what does it say about how important one child is compared to the other.

And what the first child has done to deserve so much. And what the second child did to deserve so little.

Or even what is the point of giving a child so much more food than it can possibly eat.

They’re all good questions.

The first child must be feeling very important. The second child must be feeling despised.

“I’m worth so much more than you” thinks the first child.

“You’re worth so much more than me” thinks the second.

This week, Oxfam produced a report that showed that the 85 richest people in the world have the same wealth as the three and a half Billion people that consitute half the world’s population.

So, hand out a chunk of wealth to be shared out amongst three and a half billion people scattered across continents.

Then hand out the exact same chunk of wealth to a group of people who could fit onto a London bus.

What does that say about our world and the economic system that hands out these portions?

Each of those people is worth the same as 41,176,470 others.

So this guy is over 41 million times better than that guy.

Yet I can’t help wondering, if those 85 people took a trip on that London bus, and the bus went over a cliff and we sadly lost them all – what difference would it make to the world?

Wouldn’t the world just kind of tick along as before?

And if we suddenly lost three and a half billion people overnight in the same way? The impact would be devastating.

So why are they deserving of so much of the planet’s resources?

It lacks sense, it lacks morality, and it lacks justice. It is an idictment of the way this world is run and the motivations that guide it. It needs to change.

We either run our world in pursuit of the profit of these 85 people – or we run it for the needs of everyone.

If it seems just and moral and right to run the world for the needs of us all rather than the profit of 85 individuals then, like me, you are a socialist.



  1. John Davies - January 22, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

    Great Alun. Beautifully clear and right.

  2. Sallyann - January 22, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

    I absolutely love how you write this is such a powerful expression and so true. Thank you

  3. Janet Mears - January 22, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

    Could not agree more Alun.Went to a talk on socialism by LRC last night, brilliant.

  4. alunparry - January 22, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

    Thanks for your feedback John, Sallyann, and Janet.

    It’s worth restating what socialism is really about, satisfying people’s needs.

    It stands counterposed to what capitalism is really about, making profit for the few who own almost everything.

    If you believe that our main goal is to meet people’s needs, then you have socialist values.

    When given a choice between meeting the needs of the 3.5 billion or making profit for the 85, if you choose the first then you have socialist values.


  5. Devils Advocate - January 23, 2014 @ 11:17 am

    hi Alan

    its me again… i mostly agree with what you say… but did a certain Mr Hitler also masquerade behind a Socialist mask to rally and unite a population of morally dejected Germans who were living in a very depressed economic environment?

    i have a major problem with the waving of ANY banners or ANY declaration of stereotype political-ness (?).

    they are like Statistics – easy to quote and even easier to manipulate.


  6. alunparry - January 23, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

    Hi DA

    No, Hitler was a fascist and very clearly so.

    I don’t believe I’m making any stereotype here. I’d say I’m more explaining the metric by which the world would best be run.

    At present, it’s profit.

    I believe the world would be better if it was run for the needs of all rather than the benefit of the 85.

    Politically, my support would be given to those that feel the same. For me, I’ll always judge any political movement on that basis.

    It’s why I’m such a supporter of the NHS. It was created on that criteria. I’m calling for the world to be run the same way.

    Thanks for writing. I like your posts. It’s good to be made to think.


  7. Devils Advocate - January 23, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

    Hi Alan

    As I said I do both understand your analogy and agree with the point you make… however, I am at a total loss for any historical evidence to suggest that Socialism has ever been implemented successfully enough to achieve its’ ideological stance.

    If you know of such a Period or Community I would love to be aware of it!

    btw – the reason for the Hitler reference was that the Nazi’s ‘official’ political name was ‘The National *Socialist* German Worker’s Party’.


  8. Andy - January 28, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    Unfortunately, it’s this kind of analysis that often makes Socialism look a bit silly. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve explained to me that “it’s just like if one person was given x, and another was given y”.
    It isn’t like that at all though. There is no giant mother figure deciding who gets what. Some of it’s an accident of birth, the rest is down to the market.
    I’m entirely open to a justification of why some entity should intervene to equalise things, but I’m disinclined to trust any theory that begins with the metaphor of resources *already* being centrally allocated, just in a nonsensical fashion.

  9. alunparry - January 29, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    Hi Andy.

    I can see that you don’t like my metaphor, but my metaphor isn’t really the point.

    I agree that there is no mother figure handing out these resources. I agree too that it’s down to the market in the main (with some inheritance too).

    The real question is whether we are happy with the market delivering a third of the world’s wealth to just 85 people?

    Are we happy with the world being run for the private benefit of these 85 people at the expense of almost everybody else?

    If we are not, then what is our metric for a new way of organising the world?

    Under capitalism it is profit. I want a world instead that is based on satisfying the needs of us all rather than the private profit of a bus load.

    And that’s the real point and the real question I’m posing – what kind of world do we want?

    If you’re on board with that, I’m okay with you hating my metaphor.

    Thanks for the comment.


  10. Devils Advocate - February 12, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

    hi alan

    i kind of agree with andy on the ‘singular’ metaphorical approach – it can get tiresome – although i know it is just a tool to simplify an otherwise very complex and complicated explanation….

    interesting thought about wealth distribution is that the top 1% – 4% earners in the UK are worth around 30% of the countries tax revenue… now i’m not sure they would contribute so much given a choice BUT the figures do kind of speak for themselves!


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