The 3 Levels of Wealth | A Wealth of Common Sense

Source: The 3 Levels of Wealth | A Wealth of Common Sense, by Ben Carlson

On a recent episode of How I Built This with Guy Raz, Butterfield was asked how this enormous wealth has impacted his life. He told Raz, “beyond a certain level of wealth it doesn’t make your life any better.”

He went on to list what he considers to be the three levels of wealth:

  1. Level 1. I’m not stressed out about debt: People who no longer have to worry about their credit card debt or student loans.
  2. Level 2. I don’t care what stuff costs in restaurants: How much you spend on a particular meal isn’t impacted by your finances.
  3. Level 3. I don’t care what a vacation costs: People who don’t care how expensive the hotel is or which flight they go on.

This was a new way of looking at this and it got me thinking about where most Americans find themselves on this scale.


How might you list wealth classes based on lifestyle and quality-of-life features?

Here’s How America Uses Its Land | Bloomberg

Source: Here’s How America Uses Its Land | Bloomberg, by Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby

The 1.9 billion acres of the lower 48 U.S. states categorized into pasture, forest, cropland, special use (including wilderness, parks, and military bases), miscellaneous (including rural residential, wetlands, deserts, and golf courses), and urban areas, at 250,000 acres per square.


What would this map infographic look like if the U.S. produced its power entirely from renewable energy sources?

What is Wilderness?

RE: Most Remote Spots in USA Wilderness Complexes | Peakbagger

18.76 miles. You can drive this distance in 15 minutes on a freeway. But it is also the furthest away you can get in the “Lower 48” US states from roads, machines, and motors.


How much uninhabited space do you need before it counts as “wilderness“, and what counts as “uninhabited“? Does the backyard of a 0.1-acre property have several square feet of wilderness? Is an undeveloped 0.25-acre plot a quarter-acre of wilderness? If highway traffic can be heard constantly throughout a 1000-acre wetland, or if a 1000-acre woodland has a walking trail, then is that area wilderness? If a particular area of 1000 square kilometers is logged or fished only once a decade, is it wilderness? Is even 100,000 square miles still wilderness if it is filled with radio waves, its skies are routinely flown over, its waters are downstream from the effluent of civilization, its animals are harvested should they ever wander or migrate outside its borders, or microscopic synthetics (e.g. plastics) can be found in every specimen of its ecosystem?

The team that took us to Pluto briefly spotted their next target at the edge of the Solar System – The Verge

Source: The team that took us to Pluto briefly spotted their next target at the edge of the Solar System – The Verge

The object in question is called 2014 MU69, and it’s thought to be an incredibly old space rock that’s remained relatively unchanged since the Solar System first formed 4.6 billion years ago. But tracking 2014 MU69 has been pretty tough. It’s only about 30 miles wide, and it orbits over 4 billion miles from Earth. … Using the Hubble data, along with precise star positions measured by Europe’s Gaia satellite, the team predicted various times when 2014 MU69 might pass directly in front of a star. … However, the first two times the scientists tried to see the occultation, they didn’t see the object’s shadow. The first attempt was on June 3rd, with two separate teams looking in Argentina and South Africa, and the scientists tried again on July 10th with NASA’s SOFIA airplane — a flying observatory — as it flew over the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t until this weekend, just before midnight Eastern Time on Sunday, that the mission team finally caught the occultation while huddled around telescopes in Chubut and Santa Cruz, Argentina.


This is why science is amazing. It is not always correct. It has to be updated constantly with new information in order to perform even the most trivially different task (e.g. track a new star or a different space rock). But the cumulative knowledge gained thereby let’s us do incredible things, like predict when an object only about 30 miles wide and more than 4 billion miles away will pass between a particular place on Earth and a star that is light years away correctly enough to put a telescope at that place and watch it happen.

Bread and Circuses | Elaine’s Idle Mind

I never really understood the appeal of Universal Basic Income, but after reading the European parliament’s proposal for Robotic Civil Rights I think I finally get it.

By the time the Republic turned into an Empire, slaves made up 40% of Italy’s population and held all the farming and service jobs. …
The nobilis preferred to keep wealth out of the plebs’ control, and provide them with guaranteed grain rations instead.

Source: Bread and Circuses | Elaine’s Idle Mind


I think that UBI has quite a few advantages, most of which rely on the ‘universal’ part.

  • UBI, being universal, can be an attempt to increase the civic value of citizen’s collective communal ownership of and investment in the state. This perspective sees UBI as a continuation of village commons, state parks, and national infrastructure. (see: Alaska’s PFD)
  • UBI, being universal, can be a way to compensate those citizens who do real work but are not traditionally financially compensated for that work (parents, family caretakers, community volunteers, the unemployed seeking a job, etc.), and support those who cannot do real work. And UBI accomplishes this without threatening loss of benefits for limited engagement in remunerative work. This perspective sees UBI as an improvement of communal support and the social safety net. (see: negative income tax as UBI)
  • UBI, being universally received but necessarily paid for by progressive tax rates, would effectively be a rich-to-poor income transfer which would broaden (and likely increase) consumer spending and economic demand which should grow the economy. This perspective treats UBI as little more than another pro-growth policy tool.
  • Politically, things provided broadly are easier to get and maintain support for. (see: mortgage interest deduction, F-35 production)

Ultimately, it seems to me that support or opposition to UBI turns on how someone feels about their fellow citizens. Are they adult peers who can and should be allowed to make their own intelligent decisions about how to spend their fair share of our society’s collective productivity? Or are they children whose every choice must be limited to the “good” options lest they misbehave and harm themselves or others? Or are they strangers, best avoided and left unaided and unsupported in favor of a more local tribe?