Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland

This article was inspired by Chrystia Freeland's Plutocrats . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.


How the Accession of the Super Rich Affects You

“The rise of the 1% is a global phenomenon, and in a globalized world economy, the plutocrats are the most international of all, both in how they live their lives and in how they earn their fortunes.”

With the rise of technology, people have become more connected internationally than ever before. A global economy has given men and women, especially young ones, the opportunity to make $20 million to $40 million yearly. These self-made “super-rich” individuals have created a class that even stands apart from the top 1% - the top 0.01%.

The rise of this new economic class has affected the US’s workers in particular. Globalization has taken jobs from America to developing countries, where workers can be paid less. These ultra-rich individuals are often isolated from the rest of society because of their wealth, so they find acceptance with those of similar circumstances. If history has taught us anything, it is that families tend to pass down wealth, so a generation will be born super-rich.

This global “club” of super-rich individuals forms a stratum of society that has not been so pronounced since the Gilded Age, which occurred during the Industrial Revolution. During that time period, owners became increasingly disconnected from their workers. Before 2000, American CEOs made 40 times more than their workers. With a revolution in technology, a “second Gilded Age” is upon us. As of 2012, these CEOs made 380 times more money as employees. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, this technology age will have even more pronounced economic inequality. With geographic boundaries broken down, the ultra-rich are not constrained by nationality.

Though studies have demonstrated that rich people living in rich nations are happier than the poor who live in poor nations; however, those born poor who achieved wealth later in life expressed unhappiness. A likely explanation is that the fear of losing money and reverting back to a poor life nags those who are self-made.

Unlike a hundred years ago, today’s super-rich are the “working rich.” These individuals usually had access to excellent education when younger (though many dropped out of college), and they have an uncanny command of technological skills. As super nerds, these people can adapt to changing situations and recognize possible innovations where others don’t see them. They see opportunities globally and usually do not restrain themselves to life in one country.

This class of individuals also has access to political power, funding politicians’ campaigns. Since 2010, approximately 50% of Congress’s representatives were millionaires. Though we may not think about the intentions of the super-rich often, it bears mentioning that they have money and power that increases by the day. Whether or not the average worker will as much as in the first Gilded Age is up for debate.

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