The Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America is currently on the shelves. While the “99%” are camping out on Wall Street, the rich really are getting richer. While I do believe the scales would be a bit more balanced at, say, an 80/20 ratio rather than a drastic 99/1, Forbes had an interesting observations about this year’s list:
The 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a combined $1.5 trillion ($3.8 billion each, on average), up 12% from a year ago…But class warriors miss the central point: The rich list is getting more meritocratic each year. An all-time high 70% are self-made, up from 55% in 1997, as technology creates disruptive opportunities across every industry. This is the working elite.
While the gap between the rich and poor gets wider, opportunities to build and generate wealth are now available to more and more people. Newcomers to the Forbes 400 include Sean Parker, Napster cofounder and former Facebook president and Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, the popular Facebook gaming company.
The richest people in America are building their wealth with the same technology that the general public is using to livestream the Occupy Wall Street protests. The internet provides equal information on making bombs as programming social networks. The playing field is becoming more and more equal. Soon, the only different between the rich and the poor will be how they use the tools at their disposal.
We really are on the brink of change. What will happen when a revolutionary builds the next multibillion dollar technological platform? When will a 99%-er make it onto the Forbes 400 list and incite revolutionary change? What if it’s already happening?