Really, you are! Yes…you! Perspective is everything, and if you are currently making more than $34,000 USD, you are in the 1% of income earners in the world. The Occupy Wall Street movement takes aim at the top 1% of income earners in America, but when you expand that message globally, many of the occupiers are ironically part of the 1 percent themselves.
That doesn’t mean that someone making $34,000 is not struggling. No one’s hardship should be minimized and losing a home or being unemployed certainly strikes to the heart of one’s being. However, to tailor their message down to a blanket statement of all 1% of income earners in America is disingenuous.
According to The World Bank, 95% of the people living in developing countries live on less than $10 a day. If the occupiers truly believe that the wealth of 1 person is at the expense of someone else, then they should look in the mirror and see that their wealth has reduced the wealth of people across the globe. I, however, don’t subscribe to that theory.
But the statistics are truly staggering. This means that people in America who we consider poor, are actually very well off compared to the rest of the world. Ninety-nine (99) percent of the poor in America have running water, electricity, flush toilets, and a refrigerator, 95% have a television, 88% have a telephone, 71% have a car, and 70% have air conditioning…luxuries that most of the world cannot afford.
So what does this all mean?
While I sympathize and agree with the occupiers’ message around corruption between Wall Street, corporations, and politicians, I don’t believe that the message should tear down classes in America. Yes, there are individuals who attained wealth through bailouts and back-room deals. If they want to call out specific banks, institutions, and politicians, be my guest, but I can’t sit idly if their message is based on a false premise.
Additionally, their message is around opportunity, but think about the income opportunity by being born in America. All people born in a rich country already have an advantage compared to someone born in an impoverished country. There are few better places to be born than America, even if you end up poor in America. If there is inequality in opportunity, those born in America are the ones with the unfair advantage.
The bottom-line with this post is to say that there is always someone poorer than you. There is always someone worse off than you. I have always subscribed to this philosophy, and do my best not to complain much about anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t stand up to my principals, morals, and to injustices, but I don’t disparage Bill Gates who made billions from the computer that I’m typing on.