Plutocrats: Then & Now

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Gilded Age

New Gilded Age

The RichestJohn D. Rockefeller
Net Worth: $192 billion*
Bill Gates
Net Worth: $82 billion
NicknameRobber BaronsJob Creators
Biggest Money MakersRailroads, Steel, OilBanking, Computers, Oil
Favorite PhilosopherSocial Darwinism / Herbert SpencerObjectivism / Ayn Rand
Income Tax RateIncome taxes didn’t exist yet. (They were instituted in 1913.)Official tax rate: 35%; Effective tax rate: 17% (2007)
Political Parties that Protect Their InterestRepublicans & “Bourbon” DemocratsRepublicans & “Blue Dog” Democrats
TitansJohn Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Commodore Cornelius VanderbiltSheldon Adelson, Sergey Brin, Warren Buffett, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Koch Brothers, Larry Page
Political PuppeteerMark HannaKarl Rove
Favorite PoliticiansGrover Cleveland, William McKinleyRonald Reagan, George W. Bush
Political AnnoyanceWilliam Jennings BryanOccupy Wall Street
SatiristMark TwainStephen Colbert
The Publisher With Political AmbitionWilliam Randolph HearstMichael Bloomberg
MuckrakersUpton Sinclair, Lincoln SteffensMother Jones
Fictional HeartthrobMichael 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 TransportPrivate Railway CarPrivate Jet
Where They SummerNewport, RITucker’s Town, Bermuda; The Hamptons
Where They EatDelmonico’sMasa
Where They LiveHearst Castle, Wyntoon, Cairnwood, Rosecliff, Marble House, The Elms, The Breakers, Nemours, Fenway Court, Biltmore, Kykuit, Whitehall, Villa Vizcaya, and Ca’d’ ZanVersailles 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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