The 25 Richest Politicians
I think it’s always important to keep in mind who exactly is representing you in the government. We’re supposed to be operating in a representative democracy, but it’s sometimes hard to believe that when the legislators are so much wealthier than the average person. I’ve written about this before and now, Open Secrets.org has provided an updated list ranking the net worth of both houses of congress along with the executive branch.
Here’s a brief of explanation about the table that follows and what it’s measuring: Net worth is simply the value of what one owns less what he owes. It’s your equity in your collective assets after you subtract what you owe your creditors. The information in the table is reported in broad ranges of minimum and maximum values so the politicians can avoid providing the exact information and Open Secrets averaged these two to determine average net worth and the rankings are based on this.
I didn’t publish the entire table which lists 561 people. Nearly half of those listed are millionaires. Now a million dollars isn’t what it used to be thanks to inflation, so having a million or two may be nothing to get excited about in some circles, but that really depends on where you’re sitting. Median net worth for American families is about $ 90,000 or only about 10% of the median net worth ($ 908,000) for the politicians ranked per Open Secrets. So, for the average American family, a million dollars would indeed be a big deal. Moreover, it’s clear this median net worth of the political class lands them solidly in the upper 10% of all US households.
This really begs the question of whether those who represent us actually are a reflection the people. It’s safe to say that they clearly do not.
One thing that always amazes me is how the political class as well as members of the media try to portray themselves as everyday people with everyday concerns. Everyone takes pains to avoid any references to their wealth. Further, it’s interesting to note how well represented each political party is on the list. There are actually more democrats on the list than republicans and yet the democrats generally portray themselves as being for the little guy while the republicans are for big business.
Increasingly, I feel many parts of the debate between the two parties is a staged affair; a staged fight between the elected elite.
Now I don’t begrudge folks getting wealthy per se, so this isn’t about bashing anyone, but I do raise a question about how some of these people can relate to those they’re supposed to represent. At a basic level, one has to question whether someone with $ 300 million can relate to the concerns of the average citizen and what exactly would their perspective be beyond the sound bites dispensed to the general public.
I really doubt that they can relate to the average citizen and I suspect their perspective would largely be a function of their economic class. I’d say that their economic class is well represented in the halls of government.