Plutocrats: Then & Now

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Gilded Age

New Gilded Age

The Richest John D. Rockefeller
Net Worth: $192 billion*
Bill Gates
Net Worth: $82 billion
Nickname Robber Barons Job Creators
Biggest Money Makers Railroads, Steel, Oil Banking, Computers, Oil
Favorite Philosopher Social Darwinism / Herbert Spencer Objectivism / Ayn Rand
Income Tax Rate Income taxes didn’t exist yet. (They were instituted in 1913.) Official tax rate: 35%; Effective tax rate: 17% (2007)
Political Parties that Protect Their Interest Republicans & “Bourbon” Democrats Republicans & “Blue Dog” Democrats
Titans John Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt Sheldon Adelson, Sergey Brin, Warren Buffett, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Koch Brothers, Larry Page
Political Puppeteer Mark Hanna Karl Rove
Favorite Politicians Grover Cleveland, William McKinley Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush
Political Annoyance William Jennings Bryan Occupy Wall Street
Satirist Mark Twain Stephen Colbert
The Publisher With Political Ambition William Randolph Hearst Michael Bloomberg
Muckrakers Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens Mother Jones
Fictional Heartthrob Michael Crawley (Downton Abbey) Christian Grey (50 Shades of Grey)
How They See the Poor “Civilization took its start from the day that the capable, industrious workman said to his incompetent and lazy fellow, ‘If thou dost net sow, thou shalt net reap,’ and thus ended primitive Communism by separating the drones from the bees.” —Andrew Carnegie “Our problem, frankly, is as long as the President remains anti-wealth, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-private-aviation, he will never get the business community behind him. The problem and the complication is the forty or fifty per cent of the country on the dole that support him.” —Leon Cooperman
Preferred Mode of Transport Private Railway Car Private Jet
Where They Summer Newport, RI Tucker’s Town, Bermuda; The Hamptons
Where They Eat Delmonico’s Masa
Where They Live Hearst Castle, Wyntoon, Cairnwood, Rosecliff, Marble House, The Elms, The Breakers, Nemours, Fenway Court, Biltmore, Kykuit, Whitehall, Villa Vizcaya, and Ca’d’ Zan Versailles in Orlando, FLVersailles, Xanadu 2.0 (Bill Gates), Woodside Villa (Larry Ellison), The Castle (Michael Dell)
*Net worth in today’s dollars

Principal sources

Illustrations by Joe Fournier
Gilded Age (l-r): John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, Cornelius “Commodore ” Vanderbilt
New Gilded Age (l-r): David Koch, Larry Ellison, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates

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