Two years ago, the economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published a statistic that you don’t normally see. It was the share of wealth owned by the richest 0.00001 percent of Americans.
That tiny slice represented only 18 households, Saez and Zucman estimated. Each one had an average net worth of about $66 billion in 2020. Together, the share of national wealth owned by the group had risen by a factor of nearly 10 since 1982.
This wealth conveys vast power on a small group of people. They can attempt to shape politics, as the Koch family has done. They can create a global charity, as Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates have done. They can buy a national media organization, as Jeff Bezos has done.
Or they can buy a social media network when its policies annoy them, as Elon Musk is…