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Forum Post: The "top 1%"?

Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 10, 2011, 2:42 p.m. EST by slimtae (2)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Here is quote from the home page of this website describing the goal and purpose of the OWS movement: "....aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people...."

My only problem with this emerges when you consider the following question....who are the top 1%? How much do you need to make in one year to be in the top 1%? I've read several sources and there is some conflicting reports on this figure but it appears to be somewhere in the vicinity of $350,000-$500,000 a year, give or take. This is a large figure for sure but hardly a number one might associate with someone who is a mover of industry. This range, in my opinion, encompasses the income of many people who have done very well in their lives through hard work, ability, and motivation. A successful physician, or perhaps a thriving small business owner might fit this bill. People like them are not the ones who caused the financial meltdown. We might be talking about a 50 year old physician who has a successful practice, but one who spent most of his or her young adult life going to school, training, working 90+ hours a week, and financing their education by taking out school loans the size of a small mortgage. Most owners of a successful small business are savvy individuals, work extremely hard, and are motivated....I would say these people have earned whatever comfortable life they managed to put together for themselves.

And yet these are the very people that are being lumped in with the "top" 1% that are responsible for...what? The onset of the current recession? The real estate market crash? Is there no room in the eyes of OWS protestors for an individual to achieve success and some level of wealth through hard work, intelligence, and perseverance....without being penalized for benefiting from a corrupt system? How can anyone generalize and claim that everyone in this coveted "top 1%" do not deserve where they are in life? Is it not possible that someone could get there without resorting to foul play and taking advantage of a corrupt system? Not possible at all?

If the goal of OWS is to rally against those forces responsible for financial and political corruption, the target should not be the "top 1%", because that 1% encompasses many people who have gotten there through fair play and hard work.

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[-] 1 points by slimtae (2) 2 years ago

I gather the "top 1%" need not be taken literally. There were 144 million tax returns filed in 2010. The top 1% comprises 1.4 million individuals /tax filers. As long as the OWS movement does not literally target every single one of those 1.4 million people, I can live with that and in spirit, I support their outcry against repressive practices based on greed. Let's just not throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say....

[-] 1 points by randart (498) 2 years ago

I think the real top 1% most refer to are those who are actually in the 0.2% bracket.

Personally, I think that people who make up to one million a year should be treated as the upper middle class. Their fortunes can evaporate in no time. But the people who are the "filthy rich" need to be reigned in.

If you own one house you are where most of us wish to be. If you own two houses then you are beginning to step over the line. If you light your cigars with $100.00 bills then you need to be restrained.

[-] 1 points by FriendIyobserver (-28) 2 years ago

The 1% is a constantly changing defintion. Basically if you disagree with OWS you are the 1% regardless of income. It's funny because Michael Moore a super rich guy who made his money lying to stupid people is not considered the 1% but some hard working 80 hours a week physician is.

[-] 1 points by slimtae (2) 2 years ago

No one is arguing that the mega-rich are able to exert influence and horde wealth at the cost of the poor. This is just a by-product of human greed. My concern is not quite that. Rather, it's who do we want to target to change the system? Everybody in the top 1%? Everybody making above $350K a year needs to be penalized?

My family and I emigrated to the US in the 70's. My father had less than $1000 cash in his pocket. I saw my parents work their fingers to the bone to provide a home for me and my siblings. For years we lived in cockroach infected apartments. I remember at age 8 working a farming field over the summer collecting tomatoes in a basket with my parents with other migrant workers to make 25 cents for every basket I bought back to a truck. I did this so that we could have enough money to feed our family. Over the years, our conditions slowly improved. I was able to get to college and eventually to medical school, where, for most of my young adult life, I spent hours studying, working, and training to get to where I am today. I had my first child while still in training, and I know what it's like to raise a family on $20,000 a year. I am fortunate enough, now, to be in the "top 1%", but I paid my dues and I got here through hard work. I did not "work" the system to amass wealth from the poor. I am not responsible for this economic downturn. Right now, almost half of what I earn goes to taxes. That's OK. But when I hear people say "the rich needs to pay more taxes" as a broad generalization....it drives me up the wall because what I'm hearing from my end is..."you don't deserves the fruits of your hard labor over the years."

Yes, there are super-rich individuals who take advantage of a corrupt system and in the process drive down the poor. You only have to read what's happening in the news to realize that. But the "top 1%" is too broad a category to penalize.

[-] 1 points by ModestCapitalist (2342) 2 years ago

Bullshit. The rich are too rich period. There is a huge downside. America's wealth is STILL being concentrated. When the rich get too rich, the poor get poorer. These latest figures prove it. AGAIN.

According to the Social Security Administration, 50 percent of U.S. workers made less than $26,364 in 2010. In addition, those making less than $200,000, or 99 percent of Americans (actually more like 98%), saw their earnings fall by $4.5 billion collectively.

The sobering numbers were a far cry from what was going on for the richest one percent of Americans.

The incomes of the top one percent of the wage scale in the U.S. rose in 2010; and their collective wage earnings jumped by $120 billion. In addition, those earning at least $1 million a year in wages, which is roughly 93,000 Americans, reported payroll income jumped 22 percent from 2009. Overall, the economy has shed 5.2 million jobs since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. It’s the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930’s.

Another word about the first Great Depression. It really was a perfect storm. Caused almost entirely by greed. First, there was unprecedented economic growth. There was a massive building spree. There was a growing sense of optimism and materialism. There was a growing obsession for celebrities. The American people became spoiled, foolish, naive, brainwashed, and love-sick. They were bombarded with ads for one product or service after another. Encouraged to spend all of their money as if it were going out of style. Obscene profits were hoarded at the top. In 1928, the rich were already way ahead. Still, they were given huge tax breaks. All of this represented a MASSIVE transfer of wealth from poor to rich. Executives, entrepreneurs, developers, celebrities, and share holders. By 1929, America's wealthiest 1 percent had accumulated 44 percent of all United States wealth. The upper, middle, and lower classes were left to share the rest. When the lower majority finally ran low on money to spend, profits declined and the stock market crashed.

Of course, the rich threw a fit and started cutting jobs. They would stop at nothing to maintain their disgusting profit margins and ill-gotten obscene levels of wealth as long as possible. The small business owners did what they felt necessary to survive. They cut more jobs. The losses were felt primarily by the little guy. This created a domino effect. The middle class shrunk drastically and the lower class expanded. With less wealth in reserve and active circulation, banks failed by the hundreds. More jobs were cut. Unemployment reached 25% in 1933. The worst year of the Great Depression. Those who were employed had to settle for much lower wages. Millions went cold and hungry. The recovery involved a massive infusion of new currency, a World War, and higher taxes on the rich. With so many men in the service, so many women on the production line, and those higher taxes to help pay for it, some US wealth was gradually transferred back down to the majority. This redistribution of wealth continued until the mid seventies. By 1976, the richest 1 percent held  less than 20 percent. The lower majority held the rest. This was the recovery. A partial redistribution of wealth.

Then it began to concentrate all over again. Here we are 35 years later. The richest one percent now own over 40 percent of all US wealth. The upper, middle, and lower classes are sharing the rest. This is true even after taxes, welfare, financial aid, and charity. It is the underlying cause. No redistribution. No recovery.

The government won't step in and do what's necessary. Not this time. It's up to us. Support small business more and big business less. Support the little guy more and the big guy less. It's tricky but not impossible.

For the good of society, stop giving so much of your money to rich people. Stop concentrating the wealth. This may be our last chance to prevent the worst economic depression in world history. No redistribution. No recovery.

Those of you who agree on these major issues are welcome to summarize this post, copy it, link to it, save it, show a friend, or spread the word in any fashion. Most major cities have daily call-in talk radio shows. You can reach thousands of people at once. They should know the ugly truth. Be sure to quote the figures which prove that America's wealth is still being concentrated. I don't care who takes the credit. We are up against a tiny but very powerful minority who have more influence on the masses than any other group in history. They have the means to reach millions at once with outrageous political and commercial propaganda. Those of us who speak the ugly truth must work incredibly hard just to be heard.