If You’re an Ordinary American in 2018, You Are Materially Richer Than Was the Richest Human Being Alive in 1918

by Don Boudreaux on February 20, 2018

in History, Inequality, Standard of Living

Today – February 20th, 2018 – is the second anniversary of what is by far the single most popular blog post that I’ve ever written.  It’s on how ordinary Americans today are quite plausibly materially richer than was J.D. Rockefeller a mere 100 years earlier.  I stand by that claim.  And if my claim is correct – or even if it is a candidate for being correct – of what relevance is all of today’s hand-wringing over, and pontificating about, differences in the sizes of monetary incomes or of monetary wealth?

If you are alive today in a first-world country, you are historically off-the-charts super rich.  You are among the luckiest and most fortunate human beings ever to draw a breath.  So if you’re complaining about the fact that your income or wealth isn’t as high as is that of, say, Bill Gates or George Clooney or your neighbor-the-neurosurgeon, stop it and grow up.  You are complaining about an insignificance.  Appreciate your immense good fortune.


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