Wealth of the rich always the talk of the poor

Wealth of the rich always the talk of the poor

According to a survey by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the average income of the top 10 percent of our population that received the highest share of income in 2012 was 78,569 Turkish Liras.

In other words, if all of the members of your family have an average income of 7,000 liras per month, then you are in the rich top 10 percent.

Seven thousand liras and the richest? You may find this figure too low for the adjective “richest.” But do not forget, this is an average.

If we were able to take a closer look into the group of the richest top 10 percent, for instance, in slices of 1 percent or even in slices of 0.5 percent, then we would be able to see that there are chilling differences, even among individuals who are at the top of the top and who are a little below the top.  

Semahat Arsel from the Koç family was the champion of income tax in 2012. Last year, she paid 26,876,425 liras in taxes. We know that the top slot pays 35 percent tax. So, a rough calculation tells us Arsel had earned 76,789,785 liras that year, becoming Turkey’s income tax champion.

On the same list, but in 100th place was Feride Kırlıoğlu. She was levied 2,158,004 liras of income tax that year. If we assume this figure is 35 percent of her income then Kırlıoğlu earned 6,165,725 liras in 2012.

The 100th person who earned the most in Turkey in 2012 only earned 8 percent of the first individual.
This deep gap among the top 100 who earned the most grows catastrophically as one approaches the individuals who earned the least.

Imagine that the lowest 10 percent segment of the population had earned in the same year an average of 6,543 liras. This figure is the average of the incomes of 7.5 million people.

There is not even a comparison between 6,000 liras annually and 6 million liras or 76 million liras…

Who are we talking about?

I am using high school math here. They are not deep and inaccessible numbers; they are available and accessible on TÜİK’s website. I’m not holding a Marxist class either; these are official figures.

We need to compare the general income level of our citizens with other countries. For example, in France, the average income of 40 percent of the segment of the population that is considered middle class earns around $20,000 (44,182 liras) with purchasing power parity. While in our country, the poorest 10 percent earns an average of 6,543 liras ($2,960) in 2012, while the poorest in France have an average income of $9,000 (19,881 liras).

For the curious reader, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) website that published the “Better Life Index” has gloomier comparisons. For example, while the average income of Greek citizens is $27,434 (60,599 liras), the average income of Turks is $17,460 ($38,574). (All with purchasing power parity)

Turkey is a country stuck with an $11,500 (25,405 liras) per capita income that apparently is going to stay there for a long time; it is a country that is not principally rich with its per capita income. An overwhelming majority of our population are people bound to live with very small incomes and try hard to survive.

For this reason, let alone considering real luxury cars, such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce or Porsche, we live in a country where people who drive cars worth 80,000 liras are considered “rich.” 

The other day, the talk was on a well-known cafeteria chain; they served 6 million people in 2013, charging a bill of 35 liras ($15) on average. 

We are living in a country where those who can dine out are considered “rich;” we should just not assume we are anything different.

These topics are rarely the main theme of politics in Turkey, whereas, shouldn’t it be these areas that concern the welfare of individuals be at the center of politics?

For example, has anyone heard in any of the political parties’ promises that there should be a different regulation for income tax, which currently stands at 15 percent for incomes up to 11,000 liras ($4,981) annually, 20 percent for incomes between 11,000-27,000 liras ($4,981-$12,230), 27 percent for incomes between 27,000-60,000 liras ($12,230-$27,191), and 35 percent for more?