This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: set by the United Nations Millennium Summit in
2000. On that occasion, the largest gathering of world leaders in history jointly pledged to meet, by 201 5 , a
list of goals that include:
Reducing by half the proportion of the world’s people in ex treme pov erty (defined as liv ing on less than the
purchasing- power equiv alent of one U.S. dollar per day ).
Reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Ensuring that children ev ery where are able to take a full course of primary schooling.
Ending sex disparity in education.
Reducing by two- thirds the mortality rate among children under 5 .
w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int 7/10 Sho1/l14a1Billionair e Giv e – and What Should You? - New Yor k Times
ud / 3 Reducing by three- quarters the rate of maternal mortality .
Halting and beginning to rev erse the spread of H.I .V./ AI DS and halting and beginning to reduce the
incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
Reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
Last y ear a United Nations task force, led by the Columbia Univ ersity economist Jeffrey Sachs, estimated
the annual cost of meeting these goals to be $1 21 billion in 2006, rising to $1 89 billion by 201 5 . When we
take account of ex isting official dev elopment aid promises, the additional amount needed each y ear to meet
the goals is only $48 billion for 2006 and $74 billion for 201 5 .
Now let’s look at the incomes of America’s rich and superrich, and ask how much they could reasonably
giv e. T he task is made easier by statistics recently prov ided by T homas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez,
economists at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris- Jourdan, and the Univ ersity of California, Berkeley ,
respectiv ely , based on U.S. tax data for 2004. T heir figures are for pretax income, ex cluding income from
capital gains, which for the v ery rich are nearly alway s substantial. For simplicity I hav e rounded the
figures, generally downward. Note too that the numbers refer to “tax units,” that is, in many cases, families
rather than indiv iduals.
Piketty and Saez’s top bracket comprises 0.01 percent of U.S. tax pay ers. T here are 1 4,400 of them,
earning an av erage of $1 2,775 ,000, with total earnings of $1 84 billion. T he minimum annual income in this
group is more than $5 million, so it seems reasonable to suppose that they could, without much hardship,
giv e away a third of their annual income, an av erage of $4.3 million each, for a total of around $61 billion.
T hat would still leav e each of them with an annual income of at least $3.3 million.
Nex t comes the rest of the top 0.1 percent (ex cluding the category just described, as I shall do henceforth).
T here are 1 29,600 in this group, with an av erage income of just ov er $2 million and a minimum income of
$1 .1 million. I f they were each to giv e a quarter of their income, that would y ield about $65 billion, and leav e
each of them with at least $846,000 annually .
T he top 0.5 percent consists of 5 75 ,900 tax pay er...
View Full Document
- Spring '11