Historical Wealth: How to Compare Croesus and Bezos



Wealth has to be measured with a yardstick belonging to the same time when that wealth exists: labour power. A few days ago I wrote a post on wealth comparisons overtime. I have done such a comparison myself in “The haves and the have-nots” and have used Adam Smith’s argument that person’s wealth ought to be measured in the amount of labor he commands. In other words, wealth needs to be measured in its historical context. I gave two examples of misleading wealth comparisons: over time, when we try to use the same bundle of commodities to compare Croesus and Bezos, and when we conflate wealth and power.



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