My morning began as usual scanning news headlines and coming across the typical “for” and “against” stories about the very wealthy, their spending, the businesses they started or now own and how they accumulated their fortunes. This one from The Daily Beast was titled, “Hate Private Jets? You’re Just Jealous. The 1% want planes that can fly NYC to Hong Kong nonstop,” was not particularly unusual.
In the media “1%” and “Super Rich” are seemingly used interchangeably. It is a disturbing mixed use of names for a subgroup (Super Rich or Ultra High Net Worth) of a larger group (The One Percent, 1%, 1 Percent) where the subgroup really has very in common with those outside its limited circle. In fact, even within the “Super Rich/Ultra High Net Worth” subgroup there are vast differences.
Considering many of these articles revolve around the divisive “wealth gap” issue, it is time for editors to get it right.
The cost of those super private jets that can fly nonstop across large oceans is $50 million and more. Buy a private jet that could do New York to Hong Kong with one stop and you are still laying out at least $30 million, which by most definitions is the entry point in what it takes measured by net worth to being Super Rich or UHNW, short for Ultra High Net Worth. In other words, the poorest of the Super Rich live a different lifestyle than their centimillionaire and billionaire cousins.
When OXFAM came out with its sound bite headline that in the next couple years the one percent would hold over 50 percent of world wealth, it did footnote that the average net worth of this group (14 million households based on a worldwide total of 1.4 billion) is $2.7 million. This is hardly the net worth of somebody who has multiple mansions around the world and a yacht in the Med. A New York Times analysis of University of Minnesota population data pegs the entry point of the one percent at a $383,001 household income.
Research by Wealth-X released last year showed 211,000 Super Rich households spent $234 billion per year on luxury lifestyle purchases, or about $1.1 million. Clearly that type of spending is not likely for one who makes $380,000 per year. In fact, the average household income of the one percent – dragged massively up by the Super Rich is only $717,000.
I realize there was the 2006 documentary about the Super Rich titled “The One Percent” making it a bit more confusing. However, for editors and headline writers, I would suggest if they want to create a productive conversation, they should take a closer look at how they describe various wealth based groups. Clearly, there is a difference, and a very large one at that.