Tag Archives: United States House of Representatives

US Congress: 48% Millionaires, US Population: 2.85% Millionaires

I recently saw an article in The Atlantic with the title: Does the Rise of the Super-Wealthy Require New Global Rules? It’s a provocative question based on a book by Chrystia FreelandPlutocrats. I highly recommend taking the time to read it! Anyway, while the article was good, there was something near the beginning that caught my eye and made me think:

When the 113th Congress opened in January, the number of millionaires in its ranks rose to 257 out of 535, or just over 48 percent.

My first thought — that’s a lot of millionaires in Congress, isn’t it? Forty-eight percent! Then I thought, that percentage probably doesn’t hold for the whole population of the US. Meaning, 48% of the United States probably isn’t made up of millionaires. In fact, it’s not. A study found that there are 9 million millionaires in the US. If we use the clock on the US Census Bureau, we can say that there are approximately 316 million people living in the US. So, if we divide 316 million by 9 million, we get a percentage of… 2.85%. Meaning, 2.85% of the US are millionaires. And yet, 48% of Congress are millionaires. Is something wrong here?

The US has a representative democracy. This means that a group of elected officials represent the people who elected them. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the keyword here representative? Do we really think that a Congress in which 48% of the body are millionaires can accurately represent a population in which only 2.85% are millionaires?

If you’re an American, this is certainly something worth thinking about today as you enjoy your holiday.

PS: Happy Independency Day!

Democrats Get More Votes Than Republicans — Still Lose The House of Representatives

I’ve written about politics a great deal in the last couple of weeks. Part of that is because it’s one of my interests (and one of the categories that I write for) and part of that is because the US just had a presidential election. I do have some other posts in the coming days that won’t be about politics, but this will be another one about it.

In the US, every two years, Congress is up for an election. That is, all the seats in the House of Representatives are up for election every 2 years. The Republicans had a majority in the House going into the election and were expected to keep that majority (they did). Though, something intriguing did happen during the election — there were more total votes cast for Democratic Representatives than there were for Republican Representatives. According to ThinkProgress:

Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of this writing, votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican candidates. Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.

For those people who follow American politics, it’s quite understandable as to why this happened. Every 10 years, there’s a Census in the US and as a result, an update on the population of the states. By extension, those states are then responsible for redrawing the districts [areas of representation]. Since the 2010 election was one where there was a great deal of Republicans swept into office, it made it easier for them to redraw the districts in a way that made it easier for members of their party to keep their seats. This is known as gerrymandering and it’s not unique to the Republicans. had the Democrats won, they most certainly would have done the same thing.

Lost in this discussion is the apparent “will of the people.” I realize that taking a straight popular vote can silence minorities (and was one of the primary reasons for the Electoral College), but it does seem a bit strange that there will probably be 1 million to 2 million more votes cast for Democratic Representatives than Republican Representatives and yet, the Republicans will maintain a 35- to 45-seat advantage.

Redistricting (called redistribution outside of the US) isn’t a problem that Americans have to deal with — it happens in other countries, too.