At The Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin writes:
But if the highly affluent are thriving, the super-rich are enjoying one of the brightest epochs since the days of the robber barons. These people, according to a study by economists Steven N. Kaplan and Joshua D. Rauh, are the top 0.0001 percent of 311.5 million U.S. individuals. In constant 2011 dollars, their wealth has grown seven-fold since 1992—from $214 billion in 1982 to $1.525 trillion in 2011. This at a time when most Americans have endured little or no real income growth.They find that the share who grew up wealthy has actually declined.
But origins are not the only thing that has changed in this era of oligarchy. So too have the industries that create the wealth—largely represented by the shift toward technology and finance—and, not surprisingly, where that wealth tends to concentrate. These shifts are already changing not only our economy, but also the outlines of political power, as industries friendlier to Democrats, notably tech and finance, supplant those, notably energy, that have long been associated, particulary in the last decade, with the Republicans.
Perhaps more surprising has been the shift in the location of the rich. Despite the rise of the tech oligarchs, the biggest gainers over the past decade have not occurred in California but in New York, Florida and Texas. This reflects not only the power of Wall Street and the investment class (some of whom have decamped to Florida), but the growing diversification of the Texas economy.
Ultimately what will make “the sovereigns of cyberspace,” to quote author Rebecca MacKinnon, so dominant is precisely what made John D. Rockefeller so rich: control of markets. Google, for example, accounts for over 60 percent of Internet searches. It and Apple control almost 90 percent of the operating systems for smartphones. Similarly, over half of American and Canadian computer users use Facebook, making it easily the world’s dominant social media site.
And soon, they, like the old Wall Street elites or the energy barons, may be able to regard the government as yet another subsidiary. They will benefit greatly from the likely electoral victory of the Democrats, who are increasingly dependent on tech contributions, while the old economy oligarchs already in retreat, in energy, manufacturing, and real estate, fade before them.