Rich

RICH….What is “rich”? I’m here to give you an answer with no shilly-shallying. I believe that Americans, for better or worse, believe that rich = millionaire. That is, someone with a million dollars in net worth.

But here’s the catch: that’s what Americans thought a century ago. In today’s money, that’s about $20 million or so. So today, “rich” is anyone with a net worth of $20 million.

And below that? We have various gradiations, including upper middle class, comfortable, well off, and very well off. Then, finally, rich. I’m not saying I’m thrilled with this definition, but in the caste-driven, TV-saturated psychotaxonomy of the average American voter, I’ll bet it’s pretty close to the truth.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation