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Empire by the Numbers

Guernica’s staff collects some facts and figures on who has the power (and the money) in America today.

https://www.guernicamag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Nrol-39-wikimedia.jpg
Symbol of American reconnaissance satellite NROL-39.
Image from Wikimedia

By the Guernica staff

In thinking about empires that exist in America today, we had a lot of ideas: Kochs, Kennedys, Kardashians, e-retailers, military contractors. We’ll explore more of them in our special issue on American Empires, which comes out tomorrow.

Power has many permutations, and of course influence and control can’t always be pinned down in numbers. But here are a few instances where we think they can:

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Total number of items purchased on Amazon.com on “Cyber Monday” last year: 36.8 million

Miles walked, per day, by employees at Amazon’s fulfillment warehouses: 7 to 15

Current federal minimum wage in the United States: $7.25/hour

Annual earned income of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours/week, 52 weeks/year: $15,080

Net worth of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos: $6.5 billion

Of the top ten richest people in America, number who are members of the Walton family (heirs and descendants of the founders of Walmart): 4

Number who are Koch brothers: 2

Total annual charitable grants awarded by the Walton Family Foundation in 2013: $325 million

Amount of federal assistance spent annually supporting Walmart employees: $6.2 billion

Number of Americans who attended a pop music concert in 2011: 54.3 million

Average nightly revenue of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “On the Run” tour: $5.2 million

Percentage of US concert sales controlled by Ticketmaster: 80

Proportion of US patients who are cared for in a Catholic hospital: 1 in 6

Number of entries in the Ethical and Religious Directives for doctors and staff at Catholic hospitals, a document written by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which deviate from general medical practice: 72

Number of Catholic hospitals in the US that are “sole community providers,” meaning they are the only hospital in a given area: 30

Total amount the American pharmaceutical industry spent on drug promotion in 2012: $27 billion

Factor by which spending on physician-facing marketing outstripped spending on patient-facing marketing: 9

Number of countries other than the US that allow direct-to-consumer drug advertising: 1 (New Zealand)

Consumer spending on antipsychotics, antidepressants, and drugs to treat ADHD (in 2010):
$16 billion, $11 billion, $7 billion, respectively

Percentage increase in the use of psychtropic drugs by adult Americans during the first decade of the 21st century: 22

Percentage of corn acreage in the US growing genetically modified crops: 93

Percentage of soybean acreage in the US growing genetically modified crops: 94

Percentage of cotton acreage in the US growing genetically modified crops: 96

Number of companies investigated by the Department of Justice for anticompetitive practices in the seed market: 5

Factor by which total US student debt increased between 2004 and 2012: 3

Total US student debt at the end of 2012: $966 billion

Total American consumer debt as of June 2014: $3,211,211,800

Expected gross of “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” mobile game: $200 million

Amount Ashton Kutcher earned per episode of Two and a Half Men during its eleventh season: $700,000

Number of US counties that account for one-quarter of executions carried out in the US since 1976: 3

Total amount of government fines, penalties, and judgments assessed against Koch Industries for violating regulations, between 1999 and 2003: $400 million

Koch Industries total annual revenue: $115 billion

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One comment for Empire by the Numbers

  1. Comment by Mika Taylor on September 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Great list!
    Your numbers are wrong on the consumer debt – the website you cite is listing amounts in millions: “Consumer Credit Outstanding (Levels)
    (Millions of dollars; Seasonally adjusted)”

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