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The World of America’s Most Wealthy. A Magical Mystery Tour. Who Are the Wealthiest Americans?. David Koch $19 Billion Charles Koch $19 Billion Michael Bloomberg $20 Billion Christy Walton and Family $23.2 Billion Alice Walton $23.2 Billion S. Robson Walton $23.3 Billion

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who are the wealthiest americans
Who Are the Wealthiest Americans?
  • David Koch $19 Billion
  • Charles Koch $19 Billion
  • Michael Bloomberg $20 Billion
  • Christy Walton and Family $23.2 Billion
  • Alice Walton $23.2 Billion
  • S. Robson Walton $23.3 Billion
  • Jim Walton $23.4 Billion
  • Lawrence Ellison $27 Billion
  • Warren Buffet $50 Billion
  • Bill Gates $57 Billion
114 000 homes at 500 000 apiece
114,000 Homes (at $500,000 apiece)

Enough to purchase a home for every man, woman, and child in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Altoona…

combined.

285 000 harvard educations at 200 000 apiece
285,000 Harvard Educations(at $200,000 apiece)

Enough to educate every single man, woman, and child from Eau Claire, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, and St. Croix…counties.

633 333 porsche 911 carrera s at 90 000 apiece
633,333 Porsche 911 Carrera’s (at $90,000 apiece)

Enough to buy a Porsche for every man, woman, and child in the city of Milwaukee… and Eau Claire… and Chippewa Falls

of 195 nations in the world

Of 195 nations in the world…

$57 Billion is greater than the GDP of 123 of them.

if you spent 1 000 000 a day

If you spent $1,000,000 a day…

It would take you more than 156 years to spend $57,000,000,000

the classes
The Classes
  • The upper and corporate classes
    • Who are the most wealthy?
    • Characteristics of individuals in the upper and corporate classes
    • Is there an elite “ruling class” in the U.S.?
slide10

Upper Class

1%

Capitalist Class

Corporate Class

14%

Upper Middle Class

Gilbert-Kahl Model of Class Structure (with modifications)*

Mean

Income

30%

Middle Class

Median Income

30%

Working Class

13%

Working Poor

Poverty Line

Underclass

12%

characteristics of the upper class domhoff
Characteristics of the Upper Class (Domhoff)
  • A listing in one of the various blue books or the Social Register
  • Any male member of the family attending one of a limited number of exclusive prep schools.
  • Any male member of the family belonging to one of the exclusive social clubs.
  • Any female member of the family belonging to an exclusive club or attending an exclusive prep school or
  • If the “father was a millionaire entrepreneur or $100,000-a-year corporation executive or corporation lawyer” and the person attended an elite prep school or belonged to an exclusive club on an extended list of these schools and clubs.
characteristics of the upper class baltzell
Characteristics of the Upper Class (Baltzell)
  • Descended from a small pool of successful individuals
  • Very wealthy (old money).
  • Attend the same schools and clubs and tend to intermarry.
  • Maintain a “distinctive” style of life and a high degree of group solidarity.
characteristics of the corporate class
Characteristics of the Corporate Class
  • Part of an interpersonal web of relations at the top of large corporations.
  • Influence is not found in personal wealth (though many are wealthy) but in control of corporate resources.
  • Members sit on boards of directors of large corporations.
  • Many have moved in and out of halls of government.
  • Personal interests lie not just with one corporation but with the structure of corporate concentration as a whole
how economic power became concentrated how is the corporate class possible
How Economic Power Became Concentrated (How is the Corporate Class Possible?)
  • Increased size and power of major corporations.
  • Concentrated control of stock in major corporations by other corporations
  • Network of interlocking directorates that ties top corporate personnel together.
slide15

Interlocking Directorates

Board of Directors for Exxon Oil

Board of Directors for Shell Oil

ILLEGAL!

Direct Interlock

Board of Directors for Shell Oil

Board of Directors for Exxon Oil

Board of Directors for Coca Cola

Indirect Interlock

elite power
Elite Power?
  • Elite Theory
    • Functional Elite Theory
    • Critical Elite Theory
  • Class Theory
  • Pluralist Theory
do we have a power elite
Do We Have A Power Elite?
  • Domhoff on Elite Power (Do the wealthy have the power to control us?)
    • Who Benefits? (Those who own and control the most resources have the most power.)
    • Who Governs? (Those who hold the most important positions in government and other important institutions have the most power.)
    • Who Wins? (When class conflict occurs, the winning side has more power.)
  • Mills on Elite Cohesion (Do the wealthy have common interests that unify those at the top?)
    • Social Psychological Mechanisms (Similar backgrounds lead to common interests.)
    • Structural Mechanisms (Institutional connections make it easy for the wealthy to move in and out of institutions.)
who benefits
Who Benefits?

Source: “Personal Wealth, 2001,” (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/01pwart.pdf)

who benefits19
Who Benefits?

“In 2003 the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, up from 53.4 percent the year before, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the latest income tax data. The top group's share of corporate wealth has grown by half since 1991, when it was 38.7 percent.”

New York Times (January 29, 2006)

slide20

Corporation Assets and Income:

Relatively Few Corporations Have Most Income and Assets

Source: Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, Returns of Active Corporations, September 2004. Latest available figures are for tax year 2001 based on returns with accounting periods ending July 2001 through June 2002 and posted to the Internal Revenue Service Business Master File from the beginning of July 2001 through the end of June 2003.

problems with corporate interlocks
Problems with Corporate Interlocks
  • Reduces competition between corporations
  • Represents outside influences over the corporation
  • Provides a means of sharing information about corporate plans and operations
  • Helps provide unity among top corporate officials in the economy
  • Helps provide unity in corporate dealings with the government
pluralist model
Pluralist Model
  • Potential power is widely scattered throughout society.
  • At least some resources are available to everyone.
  • At any time the amount of potential power exceeds the amount of actual power.
characteristics of pluralism
Characteristics of Pluralism
  • Power comes from many sources
  • These groups are politically autonomous (independent) and can work for any desired outcome.
  • There is much competition between groups that tends to cancel out the overall power of any one particular group.
  • These political groups are open (not closed) and constantly evolving.
  • Most groups rely on public opinion as a vital resource in fulfilling their agenda.
  • There is widespread agreement with regards to the rules of the game (voting laws, rights to vote, majority rule, etc.) which holds the overall system together.
group activity on poverty and the distribution of resources
Group Activity on Poverty and the Distribution of Resources
  • What do you consider a right as opposed to a privilege?
  • What responsibility, if any does the government have to the poor; that is, should there be government programs to help the poor?
  • Do the rich have a greater obligation to help/support the poor through things such as higher taxes, hiring the poor to work in their businesses, etc?
  • What, if anything, will you do to solve the freerider problem?
  • How much inequality of condition, if any, will be tolerated in your plan?
  • Will you allow inheritance of resources?
  • Will you distinguish between the worthy poor and the unworthy poor?