John Bogle's biggest contribution is yet to come. The Vanguard Group founder and father of the index fund died Wednesday at the age of 89. He transformed money management, making investing cheaper, simpler and more accessible than ever before.
More remarkable is that he created billions of dollars in value for others and kept little of it for himself--in sharp contrast to the unabashed accumulation of riches among corporations, even as wealth inequality rises to alarming levels. Bogle's life is a reminder that business leaders have the power and responsibility to shrink the wealth divide between their companies and the workers and consumers who sustain them.
If Bogle's money went to Vanguard's investors, who pay a fraction of the fees charged by the average mutual fund four decades after the firm's founding, it also went to Vanguard's employees.
The disparity between business leaders and workers is shocking. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, has a net worth of $139 billion. The median annual compensation at Amazon was $28,446 in 2017, according to the company. Jim and Rob Walton, heirs to the Walmart empire, are collectively worth $91 billion. The median annual compensation for a Walmart worker in the 2018 fiscal year was $19,177.
As wealth disparity grows, Bogle's legacy will loom ever larger, reminding everyone that a free market crucially depends on business leaders' willingness to look after all constituents.
Editorial on 01/20/2019
Print Headline: Enriching lives beyond riches