Posts Tagged ‘poor’


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tax havens

It’s now common (and has been since at least 2012) to argue that poor people are poor because they face a scarcity of money and time. The latest research along these lines is summarized by Maria Konnikova:

When we think of poverty, we tend to think about money in isolation: How much does she earn? Is that above or below the poverty line? But the financial part of the equation may not be the single most important factor. “The biggest mistake we make about scarcity,” Sendhil Mullainathan, an economist at Harvard who is a co-author of the book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much,” tells me, “is we view it as a physical phenomenon. It’s not.”

“There are three types of poverty,” he says. “There’s money poverty, there’s time poverty, and there’s bandwidth poverty.” The first is the type we typically associate with the word. The second occurs when the time debt of the sort I incurred starts to pile up.

And the third is the type of attention shortage that is fed by the other two: If I’m focused on the immediate deadline, I don’t have the cognitive resources to spend on mundane tasks or later deadlines. If I’m short on money, I can’t stop thinking about today’s expenses — never mind those in the future. In both cases, I end up making decisions that leave me worse off because I lack the ability to focus properly on anything other than what’s staring me in the face right now, at this exact moment.

But what about rich people? By the same logic, they have an abundance of money, which allows them to buy the time of others—and, together, their money and time allow them to capture even more money and time. One way they do this is by parking their money in offshore tax havens.

In fact, Gabriel Zucman (here is a link to the pdf of his 2013 article) estimates that $7.6 trillion—8 percent of the world’s personal financial wealth—is stashed in tax havens abroad. And three quarters of that total go unreported. What this means is a lot of time is spent in personal wealth management activities in these tax havens to attract and protect the money of wealthy individuals.

Mo’ better time, so that rich people can have mo’ better money.

Lee Judge cartoon for Dec

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