Wealth and Power always went hand in hand, but the path between the two has never been so short or easy as it is today with the internet and celebrity money machines. Examples are all around with Sarah Palin and Al Gore being the most prominent.
An interesting question is that if you follow the Al Gore model- you can become a billionaire ex-politician and have political control without having political office.
In less than one year, Sarah Palin has earned $12 million dollars since leaving Alaska Governor office in the summer of 2009 As governor, Sarah Palin made $120,000 per year.
By 2007, Al Gore had made well over $100 million
Al Gore is close to being a billionaire now.
If I were Al Gore or Sarah Palin, I would prefer to remain an outside political force, where there are no extra legal restrictions on the money that they can be make. Meanwhile, they have kingmaker political power by being able to fundraise and promote campaigning politicians. They are both leaders of politically active groups. Al Gore is a leader the climate change and environmental movements and Sarah Palin has strong influence over the Tea Party and part of the Republican party.
Rudy Guiliani was worth $52 million in 2007 and likely worth well over $100 million now.
Glenn Beck was recently profiled in Forbes, which revealed that Glenn Beck generates $32 million per year. Glenn Beck is not a politician or ex-politician but his revenue model shows the level income generating potential of a celebrity ex-politician.
People Who Got Rich First and Then Went for Political Office
Michael Bloomberg is worth $18 billion and is mayor of New York
Meg Whitman, worth about $1.2 billion, and is running for governor of California
Questions about this merging of elite wealthy and elite politician
What is the greater societal implication of this merging/blending of elite politician and elite wealthy class ?
Is it an example of corruption and a core problem within the system ?
Monetizing mega-celebrity is not corruption. However, the level below that has clearer issues. This is where ex-politicians become lobbyists or are paid off with high paying executive positions based on favors performed while in office.
The mega-celebrity ex-politician power behind the thrown model has its problems. The politicians who are dependent on generating a lot of campaign funds in order to run a successful campaign are often overly influenced by the kingmakers. But this is a problem regardless of whether it is Al Gore or whether it is George Soros (hedge fund billionaire who funds many political causes and politicians).
The Internet Enables Mega-Celebrity to Easily Cash In
It appears to be part of cult and economics of celebrity in the United States and the world. If you are very popular then you can monetize that celebrity. Look at the example of Perez Hilton, a blogger who became very famous and leveraged the attention and clicks into money.
Anyone with the attention and following of tens of millions of people can monetize that attention and following into many millions of dollars.
The internet and modern media enables this easy conversion of celebrity into lots and lots of money.
A conversion rate of $5-20 per CPM (Cost per thousand). Ten Million page views per day converts to $50,000 to $200,000 per day.
A full media monetization machine with book revenue, radio and TV and subscriptions, appearance fees and other revenue streams can multiply the internet revenue by ten times.
As quoted in the movie Scarface:
First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.
Although it appears you can also
First you get the power (celebrity), then you get the money, then you get the women.
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