You’d think that a national newspaper – even one staffed almost entirely with arts graduates – like The Guardian would have cottoned on to this idea of inflation. But sadly not, here’s the opening to one of their pieces:
The most desirable career of the 21st century, with numerous advantages over other fast-growing occupations such as hospice carer and rickshaw driver, is being a billionaire. Prior to the incorporation of US Steel in 1901, the world didn’t have a single billion-dollar company, much less a billion-dollar individual. Today, more people than ever are becoming billionaires – 2,000 and counting have made the great leap upward, according to the “global wealth team” at Forbes.
We’re meant to be horrified and shocked of course. Just look at how the 1% are sucking up all the wealth!
Well, yes, except:
If you want to compare the value of a $1,000,000,000.00 Income or Wealth , in 1906 there are four choices. In 2017 the relative:
historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is $28,100,000,000.00
labor earnings of that commodity is $119,000,000,000.00 (using the unskilled wage) or $199,000,000,000.00 (using production worker compensation)
economic status value of that income or wealth is $162,000,000,000.00
economic power value of that income or wealth is $619,000,000,000.00
There’s no one out there with $162 billion as an individual (Bezos is around $100 billion), is there? And looking at the economic power measure, that’s about the same as the size of the largest companies today.
We’re presented with numbers which are meant to show us how Marx was right, there’s been that concentration of capital blah, blah. Adding in inflation shows we ain’t got it. So, The Guardian presents the numbers without correcting for inflation.
Well done there, well done.