nobody needs a billion dollars

An excellent twitter thread from author Seanan McGuire.

Quoted in full:

People keep talking about how much stuff a billionaire could buy even after Warren’s wealth tax, as if that were the greatest horror of that number. “Tax the rich and they can still buy islands!” Yes, that’s horrifying. But my friends and I have been calculating the “okay, that’s it, I’m done” number for years. That’s the amount of money in the bank where you can live deliciously without ever touching the principle. 

Everything is done via the interest. Our numbers assume no investments, no money management; just a savings account with a decent interest rate, calculated monthly. 

If you could open a savings account with a 2.05% interest rate and a starting balance of one million dollars right now, today, you would make 20k a year, just for the effort of having all that money. 

At five million dollars in the bank, you’re making 100k a year for doing NOTHING. Almost anywhere in the country, that’s living-off-the-interest time. (SF Bay Area and New York, somewhat excepted.) 

Six million in the bank, you’re making 120k a year for doing nothing. That’s 10k a month to spend on bills and vacations and IDK, new live ponies for Kaitlyn and Hunter. 

But ten million is where we start hitting real money. Because with just ten million–JUST ten million, and remember, we started with BILLIONaires–you’re seeing 200k a year for doing nothing other than NOT funding a mad genetics lab to create dinosaurs for your amusement. 

At fifty million, again with our simple savings account, no investments, you’re making a million dollars a year by not touching your principle. A hundred million is two million dollars a year.

A billion dollars is a thousand millions. 

This is wealth on a scale that has no applications apart from supervillainy. I am GOOD at spending money. Give me a hundred million dollars and I’ll make dinosaurs.

A thousand million dollars? I’ll make frantic noises and hide under the bed. That is money turned monster. 

No one NEEDS a billion dollars. Ten million is enough to live so comfortably that you’re insulated from the world forever. And no one NEEDS that, either. 

If a hundred million dollars is two million a year in interest, then a billion dollars in that rock-bottom account is two hundred million a year. Just for owning money. 

That last bit is off by a factor of 10, but the point still stands. To me, $10 million sounds like a good amount to keep after winning Powerball, after taxes, debts and giving the rest to family, friends, charities and random strangers.

Bill Gates is currently worth $107 billion. Which means his hypothetical 2% interest would earn $2.1 billion a year for doing nothing, not even wise investing. Every year he could turn two paupers into supervillain-level rich people, or 210 completely broke families Powerball-level, never-work-again wealthy, with zero personal sacrifice to his own astronomical fortune.

This makes me think Elizabeth Warren’s 3% wealth tax on billionaires is just barely a start.

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