The Walton family which owns this has seen its wealth grow so exponentially that they now have as much wealth as the bottom 48.8 million Americans combined,
Isn’t that just shocking? A terrible indictement of all that is holy.
Except, well, there’s a certain problem with this statistic.
You see, 25% of American households (which is not the same as the number of people) have no net wealth at all.
In 2009, roughly 1 in 4 (24.8%) of American households had zero or negative net worth, up from 18.6% in 2007, and 37.1% of households had net worth of less than $12,000, up from 30.0% in 2007.
48 million Americans is 16% of the population, 25% of households have no wealth at all…..I think we could say that these numbers are broadly the same.
So the net effect of this is that if you have no debts and a £5 note then you have more wealth than 48 million Americans.
Some of these people will indeed be those we traditionally think of as poor. Low wages, living in rented accomodation, perhaps a bit of credit card debt taking them into negative territory. Others would be those we really don’t think of as poor. A recently graduated medical student (ie, after residency) might be earning $400,000 a year but be carrying at $500,000 debt. I wouldn’t cry too much for that second.
So while the number is true it’s entirely unsurprising and entirely irrelevant. Ritchie himself has more wealth that 48 million Americans. So what?
Here in the UK, ‘[t]he general work force’s share of the gross national product has shrunk by 12 per cent since the mid seventies.’
The labour share of income has fallen by that much: although that mid-70s position couldn’t have been maintained at all anyway. But the labour share is not the same as the general work force’s share. Some of it has gone over to mixed income: the self-employed. They’re general workforce but not part of the labour share.
The other major change is that taxes have risen: VAT and employers’ NI. Which is the bit that they don’t like to talk about, the way that it’s government stealing the bread from the mouths of the working stiffs.