September 28, 2007

WEALTH AND POVERTY:

Even though the wealth gap is a positive in most economies for driving the economic creativity of those not-yet-rich, much is made of it in the media and among politicians who worry about individual wealth consolidation even more than they do the corporate kind. A quick look at the Forbes 400 would surely assuage some of their fears.

Indeed, of the charter members of the first Forbes 400, only 32 remain today. Far from a country where only the rich get richer, the wealthy in the US are very much a moving target. While there are 74 Forbes 400 members who inherited their entire fortune, 270 members are entirely self-made. Though many attended Harvard, Yale and Princeton, there are countless stories within of high school and college dropouts, not to mention others who grew up extremely poor. Politicians who regularly engage in class warfare would do well to keep the Forbes 400 out of the hands of their constituents, because it makes a mockery of the kind “Two Americas” rhetoric suggesting the existence of a glass ceiling that keeps hard workers at the bottom of the economic ladder. To read the Forbes 400 is to know with surety that the U.S. is still very much the land of opportunity.

(Via Greg Mankiw).