How much money does one person really need? There’s clearly a minimum survivable income (enough to pay for food, a roof over one’s head, and maybe a bit stashed away for a rainy day) but should there also be a maximum?

Can money buy happiness? One 2019 study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that happiness does not “rise indefinitely with income”, and there is a “point at which higher income no longer leads to greater wellbeing”. The team at Purdue University which conducted the research concluded that the “income satiation” point was around €55,000 a year in terms of achieving maximum emotional wellbeing.

Yet why do we still strive for more? The number of billionaires in the world has increased by 358% since the year 2000, ballooning from 470 at the turn of the millennium to 2,668 today. The richest man in the world – Amazon boss Jeff Bezos – made more than $8 million an hour in 2019. That’s roughly 315 times more than the median Amazon employee earns per year. Yet, like many other large corporations, his company is criticised for paying relatively little tax compared to its size. Can that be fair?

The classic argument goes that billionaires are entrepreneurial, creating innovations and jobs benefiting us all in their pursuit of wealth. Plus, increasing taxes on billionaires will just see them move their wealth elsewhere, investing in other countries and economies.

What do our readers think? We received a comment from Andreu asking whether it is fair that, as Oxfam reported in 2019, 26 billionaires have as much combined wealth as the poorest 50% of people on the planet.

To get a response to Andreu’s question, we spoke to Pierre Pozzi Belforti, a venture capital investor in Artificial Intelligence (AI). You can see his response in the video at the top of this post!

Should billionaires exist? How much money does one person really need?Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) shganti777
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

46 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    I find Mr P. P. B’s response reasonable.

    Besides being gifted, it is a matter of ethics, honesty, fair rewards & luck – not by ruthless exploitation, cheating, manipulations, political interference or a wish for ‘Darwin’s’ fairer distribution whether billionaires, rich, middle income or poor people should or shouldn’t exist.

    It is a fact of life that within our human diversities all exist & should somehow peacefully co-exist. Being healthy & happy is often worth more than billions.

    The focus within the EU member states & Europe should rather be whether the “winner takes all” –


    a rule by ‘consensus’ deems a fairer & happier choice for Europe & all EU member states?

    The recent narrow 60%/40% split in France and Macron’s & some EU MEP’s ‘victory celebrations’ over its rival (‘winner takes all’) does not indicate smooth cooperation between two major parties to benefit all of France.

    The democratic system(s) in Europe & the EU is definitely due for a “makeover”!

  2. avatar

    That’s hardly an easy question, therefore the answer could hardly be easy. There should be probably a limit to one’s wealth, even a high one, like 500 M€, or 1 billion €. For scale, with that money one could live 500 years spending 1 M€ per year (which is objectively absurd). Also, why would one need a 2M€ watch, or a 250M€ yatch? What is so precious in show off? We are used to capitalism and see extremely rich people as “those who made it”, but the difference between the average income and the wealth of the few is nothing less than immoral.

  3. avatar

    I believe that instead of thinking on why a few people have a lot we should start focusing on why we have so many lacking.
    Instead of trying to find ways to “stop the rich”, politics should start focusing on finding ways for those without much could have the opportunities to grow and have a better life.
    Instead of making people dependent on welfare or the state to have a living we should create opportunities for private enterprise.
    There is nothing worse for personal accomplishments than having the state come and get almost 30-40% of your income without showing any improvement to the society with the services it provides (which get worse instead of getting better as the years go by).
    So, that said, lets stop going after the few rich people – where as they have a lot of cash, must of their Wealth and value can go “poof” with a stock market bubble burst – lets focus on how can we give people the opportunity and conditions to thrive. Give society the tools and space to grow.

  4. avatar

    No, billionsires should not exist. They need a wealth cap because billionaires act like an unelected government and they interfere with our lives and our rights.

  5. avatar

    Why should there be an income cap? Their ‘excessive’ wealth can be brought to benefit everyone through progressive taxation and closing corporate tax loopholes.

  6. avatar

    well if money rules in modern societies. by extension the more money someone has the biggest thread to rule by the public. you know democracy.

  7. avatar
    JT HK

    Billionaires is the cause of social and wealth inequality. As reported, in 2019, the top 10% of households in the United States held 70% of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 50% held 2%. The US has not revealed its true Gini Coefficient more than a decade. HK has been the top free economy which is vulnerable to capitalist manipulation. It has long time the Gini coefficient >50. After 3 decades of unrestrained open door policy which has also growing inequality with the coefficient once reached almost 50. Luckily the government appeared to have realized the seriousness of growing social disparity. It appeared to have carrying out the revitalization of isolated poor villages identified two decades ago. The government announced successfully elimination of poverty at the beginning of this year. Now Xi Jinping has turned to advocating “Common Prosperity”. It appeared to be matching by ending the single headed pursuance of GDP growth and to discourage monopoly at the same time. Government policies seems to have been changed from accumulation of national wealth to invest on social and educational reform, encouraging technology development, environmental protection, new energy and de-desertification, etc. In my opinion, billionaire is a social mal. Government function in modern democracy should be to regulate unrestrained development of capitalism with their over-exploitation of the people. This is the reason for democracy to exist. “Demo” should be a collective term not exclusively representing billionaires and their proxy.

  8. avatar

    All of the above comments have some validity to be stated but,
    There is always a but, right!
    The amount of money they have, mostly due to their stock evaluation is a means of credit limit that is acceptible to banks or any other financial organization that is part of the money system.
    They have the financial power to do good things and bad things. In a democratic world based on civilized ideas and not oligarchy this is currently reflected in a lot of countries. European countries and the USA for example are part of the so called “western civilization” . Rusia, China and Turkey for example have created a government environment that allows the wealth creation by oligarchs and one cannot expect that the bilionaires will be just as good philanthropists as in the European countries. As you may understand by now the question of allowing billionaires or not is an over simplified one. I am closing this by posing another simple question. How come governments are all in big debts that cannot practically be paid ( to whom is another question) and billionaires thrive in the same world? Wealth power should be under some means of control but here comes the hard part of problem. Politicians are financed by money makers. When this equation is solved, then we may hope for a balanced world that allows for better living for everyone. Now it is a utopia if you agree.
    Please don’t refer to North Korea , Cuba or even China as model countries they each have their own unique environment not suitable for every one else.

  9. avatar

    Billionaires is the root cause of something on the earth

  10. avatar

    They don’t seem to be useful, really. At least from the moment they become billionaire.

  11. avatar

    Don’t worry, with the way inflation is going we will all be billionaires soon enough.

  12. avatar

    Only if they’re politely faceless corporations like Pfeizer

  13. avatar

    This space is becoming a neo-Marxist den. It is clear that millionaires can and must exist. Hard work has to be rewarded and the rich cannot just be politicians. The point here is that someone with money can challenge the Marxist agenda and restore freedom of expression. communism and marxism never again….

    • avatar

      Maybe millionaires should exist but not billionaires. A modern billionaire is not there to restore freedom of expression but to exploit the mass for profit. If silencing the people can make them money they will. Seeing Elon Musk lose 140billion and still be absolutely fine is something that should not happen in a good society or Trump going bankrupt multiple times and laying off countless workers without having any real punishment is something that shouldn’t happen. If you can make lobbyist to purely benefit you at the expense of the people then you have way to much power. Billionaire make the world a worse place to live in.

  14. avatar

    Not, while there are people living in poverty.

  15. avatar

    Of course they should, what kind of a question is that. Poverty shouldn’t exist.

  16. avatar

    They are the main lobbyists at Berlaymont then no chances to be less rich in the future

  17. avatar
    JT HK

    Without billionaires, revenue would be reduced. However, government has many tools to facilitate the redistribution of wealth in a way that would not discourage investment and economic growth, at the same time to benefit the general public and sustainable development and growth.

  18. avatar

    Elon Musk who has not made any profits and sucks up US govt subsidies, lol.

    “tHeRe iS N0 pRoBlEm” – this guy

  19. avatar

    They must stop pretending they’re self-made and deluding people that such a massive amount of wealth is achievable through hard work and determination, that’s for sure. They also must pay far more taxes than they do now.

  20. avatar

    everybody have facility to learn and train. some work some don t. some are lucky some are not. yes i am not choked by inequality. many people desserve to be poor… and our society help those who have life accident

  21. avatar

    in socialism there is always an enormous inequality, always has been like this and always will be. Socialism is the greatest lie ever sold, to pave road to world control and government! And I always wonder when all these idiots stop believing the lies of liars!

  22. avatar

    i think that there should not be billianares

  23. avatar

    the rich are getting more and the poor are getting less

  24. avatar

    No! Only means the workers are not receiving their fair share!

  25. avatar
    JT HK

    The existence of billionaires is because enterprises have been over-estimated the contribution of top leaders and totally ignored the collective effort in making such success.

  26. avatar

    Business people risk a lot! Earning money and being successful motivates some.
    They should exist, of course, but the taxes should be higher for very rich ones!

    • avatar

      They risk a lot but in case they fail, the consequences are not for them, they’re for their employees who are the actual people that generate business people’s wealth. This must cease to be like this.
      I agree with your second sentence about the higher taxes.

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