If money were water…

Money is by definition an abstract concept. We’re good imagining the amount in our wallets, or checking accounts, but when we get into the millions, or billions, and beyond, it gets difficult to conceptualize. To that end, consider this random exercise to equate money to water, just to help visualize things.

The human body needs about a quart a day to survive. That’s 91.25 gallons a year. Or to help visualize it, picture two 55-gallon barrels, per year. That’s how much water you need, just to survive.

The poverty rate is about $13,000 / year. If we accept that is the bare minimum to survive (and certainly one could argue it is not), then we could, for the sake of argument, draw a relationship between the minimum amount of water to survive and the minimum amount of money to survive.

So, if you are living at the poverty line, that is the water-based equivalent to having 2 barrels of water to live on for the year.

If you are making $75,000 a year, that’s equivalent to 531 gallons of water, or about 10 barrels of water to last the year. Huzzah, you can probably afford to bathe this year.

10 barrels of water is easy to visualize, but we’re going to talk about the super rich now, so we will need something bigger.

Tanker trucks? Bigger. Swimming pools? Even bigger. Great Lakes. Okay, that’s too big. Dial it back.

Let’s try something really big that most of us have seen, at least in pictures. The Amazon warehouse (or as they call them “fulfillment centers”).

A typical Amazon warehouse has about 800,000 square feet of space, and is about 36 feet high. That’s nearly 30 million cubic feet of space. If filled with water (if it could be filled with water), it would hold 215 million gallons, or about 4 million 55-gallon barrels. Keep that in mind 4 million barrels.

As of today, there are eight people on the planet with a net worth of over $100 billion. If you are one of these individuals, that means you have, in our imaginary water-based economy, the equivalent of 12 million barrels of water. That’s enough to fill at least 3 Amazon warehouses. Elon Musk alone would fill 8 Amazon warehouses. (If you’re wondering, Jeff Bezos could only fill 6 of his warehouses, sorry Jeff.) In fact, the eight hectobillionaires combined would fill over 40 Amazon warehouses. That’s almost one fourth of all the Amazon warehouses on the planet.