Mo' Money, Still Problems

by Miles Leicher

An oft-cited phenomenon in Real Time debates is the growing gap between the rich and poor in America.  As recently as March 11, Bill Maher pointed out that, "Between the years 1980 and 2005, 80% of all new income generated in this country went to the richest one percent."  Because to have it any other way would have been socialism.

That's a lot of money going into very few pockets.  And, while that sort of wealth concentration affects all Americans, it is possible that there is one group suffering from it more than most: millionaires.  Hear me out.  According to Spectrem Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm, there are about 8.4 million American households with assets over a million dollars.  Of those, only 1.1 million have over $5 million in assets.  That leaves millions of millionaires in limbo as they try to answer the most important question in America: "Am I rich?"

There's really no way to know, because rich isn't a number; it's a feeling.  How does it feel?  Beats me.  I'm not Oprah... as I am reminded every morning when I look in the mirror, every afternoon when I don't host a TV show and every night when I sleep on not-money.

Apparently, I'm not alone.  Fidelity Investments just released a survey of about 1,000 people, which showed that about 42 percent of them don't feel rich either.  The funny thing is, the people in that survey were all millionaires with an average of $3.5 million in assets – and they still don't feel wealthy.  That's how great the income disparity is in this country: it's making our rich people feel poor.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "We should have a telethon for them!"  And that's nice, but it's not necessary.  According to the survey, those millionaires only think they'll need about $7.5 million to feel truly wealthy – and we're going to give it to them by continuing to cut their taxes and deregulate the financial markets.  Sure, it will suck more for 99% of us, but this way we don't have to miss Secret Millionaire!

How much money would you need to feel rich? Drop a note in the comment box below (preferably a C-note).