I really can’t see any other useful information obtainable by surveys like this:
Gallup has surveyed Americans to ask what they believe the cutoff for being “rich” should be. The median response was that a person would need to make at least $150,000 to be considered rich.
Only 15 percent of respondents specified a threshold of $1 million or more. Still, this is an income figure, not a wealth figure, which may be why the Times didn’t bother to mention Gallup’s question on how much in the way of savings and investments it takes to make one rich, for which the median was indeed $1 million.
The trouble with all such surveys is that they’re all based on money, and money, these days, is based mostly on wishful thinking: It’s not worth anything except to the extent that the Fed says it is. But pollsters will not be able to quantify my own answer, which would go something like this:
“Yesterday I had to write a check to the garage-door repairman to replace a broken spring. Is this check in any danger of bouncing? No. Will this expense throw me out of the current budget? No. Will this expense impair my ability to do other things I’d hoped to do this month? Yes.”
You can see the pattern here: keep escalating the conditions until one of them applies. Stopping on the third question implies something not exactly poverty, but well short of wealth. How much would I have to have backstopping my current income to keep worries at an absolute minimum? (I have just defined “wealth,” at least according to my lights.) It would have to be enough to restore my current, um, lifestyle with no discernible compromises twice. (Because after the first restoration, I’d be on edge about every little thing.) I am loath to declare a dollar amount, if only because some of what is lost is time, and I can’t buy that for any number of dollars.
(Suggested by Half Sigma.)