We Are the 1 Percent

John J. Walters Oct 18, 2011

Marc’s post from yesterday is so right on the money that I just have to piggy-back on it.  Among their laundry list of grievances with Big Government and Big Business, many of those occupying Wall Street go on and on about how things in America aren’t “fair.”  I have little to no sympathy.

Fairness is something that, since early childhood, is extremely important to us.  But, even though life has been getting better and better with each successive generation, it would be a stretch to claim that life is, has been, or ever will be anything resembling fair.  Occupy Wall Streeters seem to turn a blind eye to how fortunate they are, focusing only on the fact that they don’t have exactly what they want.  They say that it’s not fair that some have jobs and others don’t, that some have healthcare and others don’t, or that some are rich and many are poor.

In fact, if the world was “fair,” all our lives in America would be much, much harder.  They hold up signs claiming to be the 99%, but I have some interesting news for these people.  The majority of us in America actually are the 1%.  If you live in America and you’re not in relative poverty, chances are you make more money than 90% of the rest of the world.

Average household income in America hovers somewhere around $50,000 per year.  According to the Global Rich List (a wonderfully simplistic website where you input your annual income and it tells you how many people you’re richer than), this puts the average American in the top 1% of income earners for the entire world.  Additionally, entering the US poverty threshold from 2009 still puts you in the top 87%.

Kind of shines a different light on the OWS movement, doesn’t it?  We are some of the most fortunate people in the world, and we are protesting because we think the world owes us more than we have.  If you were at a cocktail party with many of the richest people in the world and you weren’t in the top 1% in attendance, would you throw a fit, or would you count yourself as lucky to get an invite and vow to work harder?

As Marc pointed out, there are some legitimate concerns being voiced by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Namely: the collusion between Big Government and Big Business to amass obscene amounts of wealth for a few well-connected people.  This deserves attention, it deserves outrage, and it must be stopped.

But there are ways of making change within our system.  And there are ways of making change in your own life.  Spending days and days marching around New York City holding signs and chanting might make you feel like a revolutionary “fighting the good fight,” but in actuality it’s keeping you from looking for work and (in many cases) weakening even the legitimate points that you have to make.

I know it’s gone out of style these days, but pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.