All of us are trying to figure out this #OWS stuff and how it impacts us. The opinions ranges from one of skepticism and disgust to respect and admiration. Clearly the movement is having an impact.
My personal reaction to the movement is one of disdain. It’s my understanding that these folks are upset that 1% of the people control more than 1% of the wealth. That the remaining 99% of the population is somehow getting screwed. To be sure, there is some version of protest that speaks to the very elite rich manipulating the “system” to their advantage in a way that endangers our economic fabric, but I firmly believe these people to be few and far between.
What we are seeing is a bunch of folks upset that there are rich people. Or rather, who have more money than they have. But is that the real picture?
Let’s take a look at the top 1%:
I sit in an interesting chair in the financial services industry. Our clients largely fall into the top 1%, have a net worth of $5,000,000 or above, and if working make over $300,000 per year. My observations on the sources of their wealth and concerns come from my professional and social activities within this group.
…a family enters the top 1% or so today with somewhere around $300k to $400k in pre-tax annual income and over $1.2M in net worth.
Okay, so that’s a lot of money. A TON of money. I can remember a time when earning that kind of money was stupid. In fact, earning that kinda money for me is STILL stupid.
But let’s go further:
The 99th to 99.5th percentiles largely include physicians, attorneys, upper middle management, and small business people who have done well….
The net worth for those in the lower half of the top 1% is usually achieved after decades of education, hard work, saving and investing as a professional or small business person.
Decades. Hard work. Saving. Investing.
Decades. That is, these folks didn’t “come into” this money, they earned it. EARNED it. By working, risking and sacrificing. THAT is the lower half of the 1%. Which means that we are now talking about the top half of the 1%.
The whole read is fascinating. But I’ll leave you with what the author leaves us with:
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: A highly complex set of laws and exemptions from laws and taxes has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes. They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%.
I think this is true. I am willing to believe that the top 0.01% of Americans have much if not all of the power and influence in this country. Which, by the way, turns out to be about 32,243 people. And we’re not really talking about people, we’re talking about families. So it could be half that.
If the cost of 99.99% of us living like relative kings is having 16,000 of us live lives that we can only dream of? Well, hell, I’m willing to pay that.
Don’t ever forget. Ever. That we have a life that would have been the envy of the richest people of the world just 50 years ago. Imagine what the world’s wealthiest would have paid for what we now see as everyday convenience.