“I’ve heard if you earn minimum wage in England you’re in the top 10% earners in the world. #stay #humble” The central mystery surrounding Stuart Broad’s sanctimonious Twitter activity (he has since apologised) is how he came to be a cricketer. You would think someone with poor numeracy would be better suited to a sport like football.
It is relatively easy to be in the richest 10% on the minimum wage, if you’re happy to live in a very expensive place. The minimum wage in Gabon is £3,672, or less than a third of our £13,500. On the other hand, a suburban one-bedroom flat there is £63 a month, or less than an eighth the cost of the average suburban one-bedder in the UK (£541). A couple more data points (average public transport, 17p to £2.20) and the picture is pretty plain; someone on the minimum wage in the UK may technically be richer, but could buy a lot less and will ergo struggle a lot more. Money doesn’t mean anything out of context: its value is determined by what you can buy with it. Most people figure this out by the age of about seven.
Because if this is true then there’s some other things that follow. Like it doesn’t matter that the top 1% own 50% of everything. Because a great deal of that is just average housing in expensive parts of the world. Further, UK inequality is much lower than recorded because prices vary around the country.
You don’t get to have it both ways.