Late Night FDL: Mitt Romney’s Incredible Wealth in Perspective

Mitt Romney brings in just over $20 million a year according to his most recent tax returns. That is a lot of money. Let’s try to put that amount of income in perspective by comparing it to the income earned by an average hourly wage employee.

Mr. Romney didn’t “earn” that money; he just collected mostly “carried interest” on his earlier investments without doing any recent work for it.  But let’s imagine that Romney, like most Americans, earned this money through a salaried job. If Romney worked 40 hours a week for 50 weeks out of the year that would be 2,000 hours worked a year. $20 million divided by 2,000 comes out to $10,000 an hour. To make as much as Mitt Romney received, a person would need an hourly wage job that paid $10,000 an hour.

For comparison the minimum wage in America is $7.25 an hour. If you were making minimum wage working 2000 hours a year, to earn as much as Romney did last year you would need to work for about 1,400 years.

I find this roughly $10,000 an hour figure particularly interesting because earlier in the Republican campaign Romney famously tried to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry. After getting criticized for it Romney defended his $10,000 bet by claiming he was just trying to think of an “outrageous number.”

To Romney, though, a $10,000 bet really isn’t outrageous at all. For Romney a $10,000 bet is roughly the equivalent of a regular American making a bet of 10 or 20 dollars, about one hour’s worth of pay. For most Americans that would be a pretty normal friendly wager.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at