I was thinking about Nick Hanauer’s economic idea of “middle out” recently and I opened the calculator app on my phone to help me get a sense of scope. I thought my calculator was broken. If you work for 40 hours at the Federal minimum wage, you earn….. $290. If Bill Gates’s net worth rounds to $80 Billion dollars (what’s a hundred million between friends) and there are 3.3 Million people who work for the Federal minimum, Mr. Gates could pay the salaries 3.3 million salaries and still have enough to spend the median U.S. income ($51,000) every year for 610,000 years (this ignores inflation and any earnings on the money, but I would assume that that would only wind up in Bill’s favor).
I do not begrudge Bill Gates his billions. And I am not advocating that he pays all those salaries; I am just pointing out that he COULD. But when I think about the nearly incomprehensible chasm separating the wealthiest and the poorest, I can’t help but think…. we could do better.