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  1. Wealth
May 9, 2011

Which rich list?

By Spear's

Surely the man who invented twofacebook.com, to keep best frenemies connected, would find a place alongside the Mittals and Grosvenors?

It was rather a surprise, I must confess, to pick up the Sunday Times Rich List, that exhaustive all-seeing directory, and not find myself on it. After all, surely the man who invented twofacebook.com, to keep best frenemies connected, would find a place alongside the Mittals and Grosvenors? Apparently not. Still, it was nice to see that the list’s combined worth was £396bn, creeping back to 2008’s £413bn, and that we now have our first self-made female billionaire.

This obsession with the quantity of someone’s identifiable wealth – which is a pretty ropey approximation of their actual wealth, if such a thing can be determined, given the vicissitudes of asset values – is entertaining but unedifying. Surely there are better ways of determining wealth, or even some new ‘virtue’ – wealthy citizenship, perhaps.

Instead of relying solely on cash, you could assign someone a philanthropy quotient (although much of this is secret). You could judge whether their children have jobs or live interest-free lives on their parents’ interest. Should inherited wealth be weighted less than entrepreneurial wealth?

I am not proposing some airy measurement of goodness – just suggesting that the pounds in your pocket we can see are not the best, or even an interesting, way of measuring your wealth.

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