Is it becoming harder to join the true elite in the US? According to recent statistics from the IRS, one needed to report $104 million in adjusted gross income to be among the top 400 income-earners in 2002. By 2005, that number more than doubled to $214 million. Still, the upward shift among the already-wealthy has allowed Barron’s to report (with a straight face, apparently) that more and more people making millions would like to be considered “middle class” — those making $25 million to $50 million per year, for example, are merely “beer and pretzels” rich. (Tough break.)
So things are going swimmingly for Wall Street Journal and Barron’s readers, but what about those other countries with sky-high GDPs? Lest we become envious of wealth in other parts of the world, Ben Stein assures us that, despite growing wealth around the world, America is, and will remain, the richest country on earth. Of course, there is also some evidence of a trickle-down effect: According to The Atlantic (the one with Britney Spears on the cover), the slums and sidewalks of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) are becoming a mere stopover on an otherwise upward trajectory as the city becomes more cosmopolitan.