The any-every gap

This country of ours is amazing. We too often take it for granted.

If you could choose one place in the world to be born, you would be crazy to pick any place other than the United States. That’s not to say we don’t have our share of problems. But I am convinced that America does far more good than any other country on the planet.

For instance, if you’re looking for access to opportunities, no place does it better than the USA. There’s undoubtedly room from improvement, but we’re leagues ahead of the next best country.

I’m a full-throated, dyed-in-the-wool, true-blue capitalist. I believe our market-based economy ignites innovation and fans the flames of ambition. It rewards creativity and productivity. It permits people who are willing to work hard and to take risks to dramatically change their station in life.

Along the way, our economic system produces tremendous gaps in wealth. Perfectly massive gaps.

Think about it this way. Let’s say you spend $1,000 every hour of every single day. Morning, noon, night – rain or shine – you spend $1,000 an hour for 24 hours each day. If you start with $100,000, your money will be gone in four days. If you start with $10 million, your stash will last a little more than one year. If you start with $1 billion, however, you’ll never spend it down during your lifetime, unless you plan to live more than 114 years.

Let’s focus on the wealth divide between being a millionaire and a billionaire. As of 2023, there were about 22 million millionaires in the U.S. There were 735 billionaires; it’s an exclusive club.

There’s no doubt that if you have a million dollars, you’ve accumulated more than a large majority of the U.S. population. But those who attain the status of a billionaire are on an entirely different level. This produces what I call the any-every gap.

Being a millionaire means you can do nearly anything you want. You may only be able to do one thing of the many things you would like to do. And you may only be able to do it once. But you can afford to do most anything at least once.

That’s entirely different than being able to do everything all the time.

If you are a billionaire, for instance, there are very few limits on what you can do or how often you can do them.

Let’s say you’re faced with the following ways to spend your money: you could buy a Lamborghini, go on a six-month excursion across Europe, buy a vacation home in Florida, give half a million dollars to charity or buy a small yacht. If you are a millionaire, you could probably do one – or maybe a couple of those things. As a billionaire, however, you could do them all.

Choice, for billionaires, truly becomes a self-imposed limitation. At extreme levels of wealth, you can bury the word “or” when it comes to spending – “and” is all you really need. That’s the any-every gap.

Here’s the thing: while it may feel like this is a problem in our society, I disagree. This is a natural outcome of capitalism. Outside of inheritance, the people with billions of dollars have created enormous value in our country and around the world. They deserve to be rewarded.

And if you don’t think anyone should be rewarded to that extent, where do you draw the line? How do you place a cap on wealth? And how would you avoid politicians from meddling with that cap over time? You wouldn’t.

Besides, we have a rich tradition in this country of giving back. Fortunately, many wealthy people abide by the decree that to whom much is given, much is expected. Across the any-every gap, millionaires and billionaires, without laws or compulsion, are incredibly generous with their money and give freely.

We should be thankful every morning we wake up in this great country of ours. It’s not perfect, but where else would you rather be?

Justin Lueger is President of Invisor Financial LLC, a registered investor adviser firm in the State of Kansas. All opinions expressed are his own and should not be viewed as individual advice. He can be reached at justin.lueger@invisorgroup.com.

This column is paid for by Invisor.

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