Economics of Star Wars – Part One: A Widening Wealth-Gap

January 25, 2014 – A disturbing graphic from Oxfam illustrates how grossly unbalanced wealth-gap 1the world’s distribution of wealth has become. In short, 85 of the world’s richest people (less than one percent or, more accurately, 0.0000000118%) have amassed a combined fortune which equals about half the world’s population (over 7.2 billion humans).

So this got me to thinking about economic inequality and the obvious wealth gap in the Star Wars universe: Who are the über-wealthy 1% in the Empire and the Rebel Alliance who control the vast bulk of riches and resources? And who are the other 99% – the toilers, serfs and servants?
The picture above is the closing scene from that somewhat banal prequel, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Conveniently clustered together – after all, the rich and powerful do like to hang out together – are (from left to right, with the pointed arrows): Queen Padmé Amidala (Queen of the Naboo); Boss Nass (Boss of the Gungan and Boss of the Gungan High Council); and Senator Palpatine (Senior Galactic Senator from Naboo, and later the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, his secret identity is later revealed to be Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith; ultimately becomes the Galactic Emperor.)

Princess Leia-Throne Room Jabba the Hutt

A generation later, two more icons join the One Percent Star Wars Club: Princess Leia Organa and Jabba the Hutt (a powerful Hutt crime lord in the galaxy).


Queen Amidala: The way she talks, moves, acts and dresses is a big hint. Our regal queen has a ton of Christian Dior and Vera Wang dresses (or whoever outfits her) in multiple scenes. Some of her minions serve as body doubles and even die for her. And who ever heard of a poor “Queen”?

Boss Nass: Even though George Lucas dumbed-down his speech and accent (“Wesa no like the Naboo. *tic tic tic.* Da Naboo tink day so smarty, day tink day brains so big!“), we cannot deny that he is the “Boss” or leader of an entire species, the Gungan, and their large army. He commands multiple floppy-eared underlings in his underworld kingdom. And he gives away cool vehicles, like the bongo submarine, to two Jedi he had just met (Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Jar Jar Binks, allowing them safe passage to Theed.

Senator Palpatine: Through ruthless ambition and, with a little help from the Dark Side, Senator Palpatine becomes Supreme Chancellor… and, eventually, the Galactic Emperor. When’s the last time you met the ruler of a galaxy? Or someone with the means to build TWO Death Stars? Not only is he morally filthy, evil and corrupt; he is also filthy rich.

Princess Leia: She is the (secret) daughter of Queen Amidala, who passed away shortly after child-birth. Princess Leia inherited much of her wealth from her mother’s bloodline.

Jabba the Hutt: Pure greed, racketeering, space piracy and theft underlie Jabba’s vast fortune. Jabba’s palace on Tatooine may not look particularly impressive; but it is still a palace, complete with a throne room, a dungeon, slave performers, Gamorrean guards and numerous sycophants.

The other 99%, and why the powerful Jedi are poor as dirt.


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