Sometimes the only way to be right about something is to start out being wrong about it, and work your way from there. So it was with the one percent, and me. I had heard people refer to the ultra-rich with that term before, and probably misused it a few times, before I gave it a little more thought and did a little actual research. What I found put things into perspective, and made me wonder if I had been the only one that didn’t know these things.
For example: if you make thirty thousand dollars a year in this country, you are in the top one percent of the world’s earners. What we consider poverty, or courting it, many other countries consider great wealth. Or, at least, a good living. If you’re not making over thirty thousand dollars a year and you live in America, you might want to consider another line of work. Life is not getting any easier for low income households any time soon. There is still opportunity for good work and good pay in our country, even if we have to work harder for it than ever.
Even in America, the top one percent of earners are mostly artists and entrepreneurs. Over ten percent of Americans will find themselves in that category at least one year of their lives, and that’s hardly an indication that they are on the path to hoarding diamonds like a dragon or drafting up their manifesto to dominate the global marketplace. Most of us are doing our best to be one of the ten percent that gets to be one of the one percent at least once in our lives, and we’re always happy to see our friends and loved ones move toward or into that category.
These are not the people we mean, when we talk about the one percent. We are talking about the people who are born into more money than the human mind can get a realistic grasp on. We’re talking about the royal blood of our country, the people who have so much cash that the only thing that will often get them excited is the opportunity to rule. So that’s what we let them do, since none of us have the time or the money to play the game their way. These folks are more accurately described as the one percent of the one percent, and they have more streams of income than any honest businessperson could ever hope to.
Also, they aren’t bound by the same laws…although they are somehow the ones writing them. Our recent history is peppered with public examples of how our legal system is for sale even to citizens, and unwilling to put politicians in the same prisons they built to put those they served in.
Served…that’s a funny word, isn’t it? How are we to feel served by people who make more money than almost all of us, have the best healthcare there is, and are immune to prosecution for their public crimes? Lots of words come to mind when I think of those who claim to serve us, but service is not one of them.
As unemployment rates rise despite claims to the contrary, and more and more Americans live on the streets with each year that passes, it’s easy to see how generations coming up are not showing much interest in leasing the American dream. Many of them even resent the one percent, without giving them props for working so hard to get there. They don’t seem to understand that it’s the one percent of the one percent that are shifting the balance of wealth and power further away from them with each day they spend not learning to be a person of value in some marketplace or another. The one percent are there to give those of us working hard every day hope. They’re not the ones that want to take without giving; the majority of the one percent are looking to trade value for value, and make sure both parties get the most from each transaction.
So…you’re in the one percent of the world, if you make thirty thousand dollars a year. Twenty percent of American households earn over fifty thousand dollars a year, and ten percent earn over a hundred thousand. You only have to make about a half million dollars in a year to be in the one percent, and that hardly constitutes a lifetime’s wealth in modern America. Those in the lower ninety-nine of the one percent will probably have to keep working next year, while the folks we’re talking about never really had to. The one percent of the one percent in America is actually the one percent of the one percent of the one percent of the world. The honest truth of the matter is that most of us will never hang out with one of those people, and that many folks wouldn’t want to.
What would you talk about, anyway? How hard it is to find a bank that will print checks big enough to write in all those zeros? What a pain it is to rule the world, and try to play it off like you’re being of service?
The truth is that most of us don’t have much in common with these folks at all. That’s why they’re the one percent…of the one percent, of the one percent. The actual one percenters aren’t so bad, in my experience.
No discussion on money should ignore what any book on money says about making it and keeping it. It turns out that rich people have different thoughts and habits than poor people, and almost all the folks who write books about going from being the other to being the one start by pointing this out in their own way. It was another subject that I wondered why it wasn’t covered better in school, when somebody finally made it a point to try and talk to me about it in my twenties. Then I learned why schools in America are the way they are, and I stopped wondering why I hadn’t gotten a better education. It was no surprise really, when I learned…
‘Public schools create factory workers!’
That’s next week’s topic, and I hope you come back for it!
Thanks for reading!
All the best,