This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

5 Tycoons Who Want to Close the Wealth Gap

By Hannah Dreier

As the middle class struggles to make gains and President Barack Obama strives to shine a spotlight on the issue of income inequality, an unlikely constituency is looking for ways to close the nation's growing wealth gap: a handful of top U.S. business tycoons.

These advocates point to notions of fairness and admit to twinges of guilt, but the core concern driving all of them -- left, right and libertarian -- is a belief that the economy doesn't function efficiently when the wealth gap is wide. One suggestion is pressuring fellow entrepreneurs to pay workers more; another is simply giving their money back to the government to redistribute.

Since roughly 1980, the wealthy have been prospering while the middle class has stagnated or fallen behind. Members of the 0.1% now make at least $1.7 million a year and grab 10% of the national income, while the median annual household income has dropped, landing at $51,017.

The gap is growing wider. Income for the highest-earning 1% of Americans soared 31% from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation. For everyone else, it inched up an average of 0.4%.

As U.S. society has grown more unequal, rich men and women have set up clubs and foundations to encourage economic parity, and they are actively lobbying for change.

The figure of the fairness-conscious billionaire has a precedent, said Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton. During the Gilded Age, at the end of the 1800s, tycoons took steps to increase equality and help the working class.

"Names like Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller -- the [Warren] Buffet and [Bill] Gates of their days -- grace universities, museums and medical centers in part because the originators of those fortunes gave back," Norton said. "In the same way that some businesspeople are now taking steps to address climate change due to its effects on costs and revenues ... the notion that inequality can be bad not just for ethical reasons, but for financial reasons, is one that is increasingly embraced by businesspeople."

Here's a look at some of these opponents of the widening gap between the poor and, well, themselves.

1 of 6

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
BRK.B $144.56 -1.09%
T $33.72 -2.35%
AAPL $125.80 -2.25%
FB $77.56 -1.59%
GOOG $530.80 -1.85%

Markets

DOW 17,928.20 -142.20 -0.79%
S&P 500 2,089.46 -25.03 -1.18%
NASDAQ 4,939.3270 -77.6020 -1.55%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs