Thursday, March 10, 2016

Richer Than Rockefeller

Tennessee law professor and blogger Glenn Reynolds reminds us that it's easy to lose perspective by watching the 24/7 (bad) news feed: [bold added]
in many ways, today’s Americans are richer than the original super-rich tycoon, John D. Rockefeller. Noting the absence of antibiotics, reliable birth control, air conditioning, on-demand music, television, contact lenses, dental care, jet travel, etc., economist Don Boudreaux comments: “Honestly, I wouldn’t be remotely tempted to quit the 2016 me so that I could be a one-billion-dollar-richer me in 1916. This fact means that, by 1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America’s richest man a mere 100 years ago."
John D Rockefeller (Daily Mail / Getty image)
Your humble blogger expressed the same sentiment in 2014:
The richest Americans in history, as measured by the size of their estates relative to the economy of their time and adjusted to 2013, are:
1. John D. Rockefeller ($253B)
2. Cornelius Vanderbilt ($205B)
3. John Jacob Astor ($138B)
4. Steven Girard ($120B)
5. Richard Mellon ($103B)
Bill Gates ($74B) and Warren Buffett ($64B) are ranked 12th and 14th, respectively.

Ask any middle-class American, however, if he or she, with access to better medical care, the world's knowledge at one's fingertips, and the capability of being in Paris or Tokyo tomorrow, would trade places with John D. Rockefeller.

I daresay that all but the most power-hungry, ego-centric, and status-conscious would decline.
No matter how the elections turn out, we are richer than Rockefeller. © 2016 Stephen Yuen

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