Are the Kardashians making you poorer just by getting richer?

Andrea Cumming HB

Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Charles Wheelan’s Naked Economics have conflicting views on the question “is the economy a zero-sum game?” A zero-sum games means that in order for there to be winners there must be losers. The correct answer to the question is no and can be proven by looking at the wealth of the Kardashian Family. Wheelan agrees with this answer, and in his book he argues that poor people are poor despite the fact that rich people are rich. One person’s wealth does not prevent someone from gaining wealth as well. This is because “Economics tells us that there is no theoretical limit to how well we can live or how widely our wealth can be spread”[1] Meaning the economy cannot be seen as pieces to a pie that are divided between members of society. Instead, economics is an ever growing pie that grows as new ideas form.

However, the Communist Manifesto claims the exact opposite. Marx believed that the sole reason the majority of the population was not well of was because a small part of it was. He believed that “private property [had] already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths.”[2] What Marx fails to take into consideration is that the success of the small part of the population does not only benefit them, but all of society as well. Likewise, when that small portion of the population fails the economy as a whole is worse off.[3] How and why is this true? Let’s take a look at what the Kardashian Family does for society.

The Kardashian Family has a net worth of about $300,000,000. They are infamous for having acquired their initial wealth by doing nothing. However, they have continued to expand their worth through clothing lines, makeup brands, phone apps, and a reality television show. None of the ways in which they have made money “stand in the way of [other’s] success or benefit from their misfortunes”[4] Instead, they help better the economy. Their clothing stores and makeup brands create jobs, their apps provide entertainment and easy access purchasing, and their television show also provides entertainment and creates money that in turn stimulates the economy. So, what does this mean? It means that in fact the economy is not a zero-sum game. The Kardashians are economic winners, but not because they made other people losers. They actually made other people well of due to their growing wealth.

[1] Wheelan, Charles, Naked Economics Undressing the Dismal Science (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010), 146.

[2] Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, Samuel Moore, and David McLellan. 1992. The Communist manifesto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[3] Yeh, Chris. “Is Global Economics a Zero-sum Game?” Ask the Harvard MBA. May 3, 2008. Accessed December 04, 2016.

[4] Wheelan, Charles, Naked Economics Undressing the Dismal Science (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010), 145.

[5] Roberts, Edward. “Kourtney Kardashian Flaunts Wealth by Wearing FOUR Gold Watches at Once.” Mirror. February 04, 2015. Accessed December 05, 2016.    



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