The super-rich are often portrayed as self-made, as if their wealth was created entirely by their own efforts.
But is this true? In his latest book of graphic analysis, cartoonist Darryl Cunningham examines the evidence in his graphic biographies of media baron Rupert Murdoch, oil and gas tycoons Charles and David Koch, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Cunningham wanted to focus on their stories because ‘the values of our society tend to be those of white males - they are the ones who hold all the levers of power through ownership of the media, political influence and control of the economy’.
Cunningham makes comparisons with the ‘Gilded Age’ (1870s to 1900), the last period in America in which a few individuals gained colossal wealth. Carnegie, Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and others made fortunes, but also helped create the modern world of railroads, manufacturing, and finance. What essential elements have the modern equivalents brought us?
Despite the often reported disadvantages brought by the widening gulf between the poorest and the super rich, are such wealthy individuals necessary to finance technological progress? Would we be poorer without them?
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