Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nobody Puts A Rich Man In The Corner

You may remember that I claim to be wealthier than the richest man in the world from 100 years past. I came across an anecdote to support this thesis and provide a little evidence contra Piketty.

A few weeks ago I was eating lunch at a new, moderately priced restaurant in downtown OKC, Park House. While enjoying a conversation with my lunch companions, I noticed that a familiar face was being seated at a nearby table. The man did not standout in any particular way from the other patrons, but I recognized him as Harold Hamm.  While only one table separated our dinning experience, about $12.4 billion separates our net worth.

Around us was a broad cross section of folks some in suits and ties, some in shorts and flip flops. Undoubtedly, Mr. Hamm has a lot of opportunities I and the other customers don't have. He could have ordered everything on the menu without breaking a sweat and the charge would be a rounding error in his life. A second entree would have a very expensive luxury for me that day. Regardless, the fact remains he couldn't have eaten or enjoyed the meal more than me in any practical sense. Heck, I was even seated at a slightly better table.

We are not economic equals, but you wouldn't have known it from observing us at lunch that day. There are roughly two types of realistic egalitarian societies: those that are so poor that no one is able to become unequally wealthy and those that are so rich that fortunately only few are not able to live alongside the technically wealthy.

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