Mark's Musings

A miscellany of thoughts and opinions from an unimportant small town politician and bit-part web developer

If the world’s richest 10 people renounced their wealth, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans


There’s a meme going round Twitter at the moment, which reads:

If the world’s richest 10 people renounced their wealth, the world’s 1 billion hungry human beings can be fed for 250 years with the money.

I can’t find any cite for this claim, but it appears to originate with an account called @InjusticeFacts.

The problem is that the claim is simply wrong. According to Forbes Magazine, the ten richest people in the world are:

Carlos Slim Helu $74 billion
Bill Gates $56 billion
Warren Buffet $50 billion
Bernard Aurnault $41 billion
Larry Ellison $39.5 billion
Lakshmi Mittal $31.1 billion
Amancio Ortega $31 billion
Eike Batista $30 billion
Mukesh Ambani $27 billion
Christy Walton $26.5 billion

Add that up and you get $375.1 billion. Now, that’s a lot of money, for sure. But, if there are “1 billion hungry people” in the world, then divided between them it would amount to $375.10 per person.

That is not going to feed them for 250 years. Or anywhere near it.

And, incidentally, the top three on that list are also by far and away the world’s biggest philanthropists. Bill Gates has publicly stated his aim to spend all of his wealth combatting disease and malnutrition in the developing world. I think that’s a laudable goal. And it will almost certainly do far more good than if he simply gave it all away to a billion different people.

Opposing injustice is all very well. But making false claims about the wealthy makes you look either stupid or a liar.